Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tidbits from the newspaper archive

Of late my good buddy (and fellow Guaraldi fan) Doug has been researching Dave Brubeck's early work, in the course of which pursuit he has spent considerable time with the archives. I buried myself in the same site while gathering information for my Guaraldi biography, but that was seven years ago; it's clear, based on Doug's explorations, that the site has added considerable regional content since then.

Not one to waste a subscription fee, Doug also utilized the same access to investigate Guaraldi on my behalf. The results came to me on a thumb drive that contained roughly 140 full-page scans from various newspapers. I'd already seen many of them (mostly from the Oakland Tribune and San Mateo Times), but the San Rafael Daily Independent Journal hadn't been among the holdings, back when I did my research. Some of the relevant articles, photos and ads duplicated items and events I'd already seen in other papers, but an impressive amount proved new ... and, in some cases, quite enlightening. I've already updated and amended entries in my Guaraldi timeline, and added a few entirely new ones, but some of the more engaging discoveries definitely deserve additional exposure here. I'll present them in chronological order; unless otherwise specified, everything comes from the Daily Independent Journal.

By far the best ad is the one at left, which ran October 1, 1964. I'd already known that Guaraldi had been booked to perform at this particular event, but hadn't seen an ad for same. It's definitely a blast from the past; can you imagine a similar ad running today, in a newspaper, for similar candidates? For that matter, can you imagine a jazz performer being the featured entertainer, at such a function?

The Santa Cruz Sentinel's early March TV listings show that Guaraldi was a guest on Lloyd Thaxton's afternoon chat/variety show, at 5 p.m. March 3, 1965. Similar TV listings two months later cite one of the fabled 5-minute "bumpers" that Guaraldi and his trio recorded, to fill 30- and 60-minute time slots on National Educational Television (NET) channels which — as the precursor to the nationwide PBS network — ran without commercials. I've included the listing here; you can see that Guaraldi and his combo performed a tune titled "Twilight of Youth" ... which (more's the pity) he never recorded on an album. It's one of a dozen or so compositions that he registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, and no doubt performed live on numerous occasions, but never found the time to include on an LP.

A massive three-page article published on October 23, 1965, discusses Guaraldi's Grace Cathedral Mass, and focuses on his work with San Rafael's St. Paul's Church Choir. It's a lengthy piece, festooned with seven (!) photos, and eventually will be the subject of its own blog entry. Meanwhile, I'll note that the story's writer, Mary Leydecker, was the mother of one of the boys (John) who performed with Guaraldi, in said choir.

A review published on March 28, 1966, discusses a Vince Guaraldi Trio/Cal Tjader Quintet concert that had taken at the College of Marin two days earlier. I always enjoy detailed reviews, because the writers name-check several of the tunes performed; we thus learn that, in addition to pleasing his fans with an obligatory rendition of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," Guaraldi and his trio also played "teen-age favorites" such as "Yesterday" and "Call Me." Perhaps of greatest interest, though, is a reference to "...[Guaraldi's] own 'New Waltz,' a nice combination of the classical and the modern." This is the only reference to "New Waltz" that I've ever encountered ... and I can't help wondering if it turned into "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," which debuted later that year, with the first television airing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

A brief legal entry on April 13 cites the lawsuit that Guaraldi filed against Fantasy Records. Somewhat ironically, eight days later — on April 21 — a similar entry notes that Guaraldi's wife, Shirley, has filed for divorce, citing "cruelty." This action must've been a maneuver to get Vince's attention, because in fact they didn't divorce ... at least, not for several more years.

An article on the religion page, on April 1, 1967, reports that a presentation of Guaraldi's Grace Cathedral Mass would climax a five-day festival of liturgical arts — "incorporating jazz, modern dance, experimental liturgies and choral music" — presented by the San Francisco Theological Seminary. This was a major find, because it's a Jazz Mass performance of which I previously was unaware; better still, it also featured the involvement of Guaraldi's good friend, Rev. Charles Gompertz, who of course was the prime mover behind the Mass' creation.

But wait; that's not all! Another hitherto "unknown" presentation of Guaraldi's Jazz Mass took place November 16, 1969, as indicated in the ad at left, which ran on November 12. An article that appeared on the religion page, on November 15, mentioned that Guaraldi's trio and Gompertz would be joined by a mixed choir under the direction of Mrs. William O. Leidel.

I'd long known that Guaraldi helped kick off the early Robert Mondavi Winery concert series, which subsequently grew to become an annual and extremely popular summerlong event; previous information indicated that Guaraldi had performed on a Sunday in July 1970, but I never knew the date ... until seeing the ad that appeared on July 23 that year.

A feature story running March 6, 1974, revealed that Shirley Guaraldi was doing quite well, post-divorce, as the "Plant Mama" of Sausalito, running a small shop in that city, which was "alive with healthy green growing plants in containers of all sizes ... some hanging from macrame cords." (Apparently, macrame cords were something of a novelty in 1974.) Although the article — complete with photo — focused on Shirley's business endeavor, one paragraph did discuss her previous life with Vince:

The serenity of nurturing leafy things is a far cry from Mrs. Guaraldi's busy years as the wife of Vince Guaraldi, jazz pianist. She arranged all of the musician's bookings and traveled with him all over the United States. Their marriage ended in dissolution in 1970. Their relation remains amicable and they share concern for their son, David, 18, and daughter, Dia, 14.

A short article on April 8, 1975, reveals yet another hitherto "unknown" presentation of Guaraldi's Grace Cathedral Mass, this one taking place Saturday, April 12, at the College of Marin. Guaraldi was joined by the Tamalpais High School Choir, and his trio also performed "other jazz works."

It's funny: When (years ago) I first asked Chuck Gompertz how many times the Jazz Mass had been revived, following its debut in May 1965, he poked through folders and drawers, while dredging up his own memories, and suggested "three or four times." Both he and I have been delighted, as new information has come to light, to discover that the actual total is roughly a dozen.

The final bit of previously undisclosed information also is the saddest. The travel page on December 20, 1975, includes the following announcement:

Jimmy Lyons will host the "Monterey Jazz Festival at Sea" aboard the M.S. Golden Odyssey (Royal Cruise Line) during a 10-day Panama Canal cruise Feb. 22, with Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi and Rosemary Clooney among the headliners.

Vince died on February 6, a few weeks before the departure date. There's no indication that the cruise took place without him.

It would have been a blast...

1 comment:

Doug said...

Very cool entry! You've teased a lot of content out of that mass of raw material, and your addition of context really evokes the time and place. I had completely missed the poignant import of the travel page announcement, and the maritime concerts that weren't to be...