Thursday, May 19, 2016

A little of this, a little of that: The spring 2016 edition

I’m always delighted when fresh information allows a new entry to be placed in my timeline of Guaraldi’s activities ... and even more pleased when said information simultaneously solves a mystery.

My good buddy Doug — a frequent contributor to this blog — has been investigating Dave Brubeck of late, via various archives that included expanded subscription access to, a fabulous site that I frequently consulted while researching my Guaraldi bio. My (roughly) year with was back in 2010 and ’11; the nifty thing is that the site continuously expands, as more digitized publications are added to the archive. Thus, when Doug also indulged a whim to investigate Guaraldi a bit, he came across several items I’d not seen before.

The first is a TV program description. The Thursday, April 20, 1961, issue of San Rafael’s Daily Independent Journal, in writer Hal Case’s “Checking the Channels” column, includes this paragraph:

Another KQED attraction [Friday] night, at 10:30, will be a one-time-only battle of talent between three artists in different fields: illustrator Don Freeman, jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi, and pantomimist Bernard Bragg. The trio will challenge each other to ad lib performances.

In an earlier Independent Journal issue (Saturday, April 15), the actual TV listing titles this half-hour special Trio, with a brief explanation that reads “artist Don Freeman, pianist Vince Guaraldi and pantomimist Bernard Bragg.”

The program likely was broadcast live from San Francisco’s KQED Channel 9 studio, and there’s no evidence that a recording has survived. (More’s the pity.)

Freeman died back in 1978, after a successful career as an author and illustrator of children’s books; his best-known title likely is Corduroy. His son has mounted a loving tribute website. Bragg had a long and successful career as a performer, playwright, director and poet; his website is filled with information, photos and video clips.

But here’s the really cool part:

The first printing of my book incorrectly identified the individuals in this photo, on Page 162, as Guaraldi, director Lee Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez. Several people quickly pointed out the error, including Mendelson himself (which once again demonstrates the folly of relying on a single, so-called “authority” for information, and the need to double- and triple-source everything). Subsequent printings corrected that error, but nonetheless left me clueless regarding the identities of the other two men. Well, early 1960s photos of Bragg and Freeman have left no doubt: This photo, reprinted above, must’ve been taken at KQED either before or after the show. From left, we’re looking at Guaraldi, Bragg and Freeman.

And, so, another mystery yields to determined investigation. Way to go, Doug!