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Derrick Bang: Vince Guaraldi at the Piano

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

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Finally, what to make of the recurring accusations by sidemen of Guaraldi's mercenary aesthetic tendencies? Longtime drummer Benny Barth: "I could see that Vince was leaning toward more pop-type music, because he could make more money doing that. I didn't have anything against it, but I played jazz." Later, bassist Fred Marshall: "I was having to play in a way I didn't want to, in a direction I didn't want to go. I got tired of it, musically, and this led to personal differences."

It's to Bang's credit that he amasses so much documentary evidence that these questions arise. It's unfortunate that he did not see fit, in this otherwise definitive biography, to provide answers. Few people, surely, have listened as closely as he has; few are better placed to complement the story of Guaraldi's life with the story of his music.

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