Larry Vuckovich’s Vince Guaraldi Tribute Quintet

Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Join us for a wonderful afternoon concert featuring the fiery Latin jazz and sweet melodic tunes of Vince Guaraldi, played by Larry Vuckovich’s Vince Guaraldi Tribute Quintet featuring Larry Vuckovich, piano, Jeff Massanari, guitar, John Santos, Latin percussion, Jeff Chambers, bass, and Akira Tana, drums. 

BIG NEWS! We’re thrilled to announce that Mill Valley has officially declared September 24th as Vince Guaraldi Day. 

Larry Vuckovich is honored to bring a tribute to Vince Guaraldi, his former teacher. Vuckovich delivers an authentic, first-hand musical portrait of Guaraldi, a Bay Area native and internationally acclaimed pianist. After receiving enthusiastic receptions at both the Monterey Jazz Festival and at SFJazz, the Quintet will perform Guaraldi’s true Jazz/Latin/Brazilian/funky side.

Musician Bios

Cited by piano legend Barry Harris as “one of the premier West Coast pianists, Larry Vuckovich brought his Jazz-Latin Trio/Quartet, featured on his two current piano trio/quartet CDs, to Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club in New York on a recent East Coast tour. On the same tour, he performed with Marian McPartland on her Piano Jazz show, broadcast to national and global NPR affiliates. Mr. Vuckovich has appeared as soloist at the Fazioli piano series in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, and also leads an 18-piece band that sold out the 600-seat 2007 Jazz at Filoli show in Woodside, CA. His two latest recordings, High Wall: Real Life Film Noir and Street Scene, on his Tetrachord Music label, placed in the Top 10 of the JazzWeek national radio reporting charts, and are heard regularly on XM Satellite Radio. They have won praise from top critics: “He’s a passionate exponent of what most people call straight-ahead jazz … there is a consistently tasteful quality to his music that makes it very appealing to the ear. “ – Leonard Maltin, Movie Crazy.

Jeff Massanari (guitarist) wears many stylistic hats including straight-ahead jazz, fusion, blues, rock and even has some serious county chops. He is at home playing complex jazz solo guitar arrangements as well as tearing up a plate full of blues on his Strat! He is often called on to accompany visiting artists such as Seth MacFarlane, Mark Inouye and the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Hall, Stern Grove and even including Bejing, China. Jeff keeps a busy performance schedule including venues such as Yoshi’s The Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, the Monterey Jazz Festival, San Jose Jazz Fest and tours the North and Southwest with various groups.

Five-time Grammy-nominated percussionist and US Artists Fontanals Fellow, John Santos, is one of the foremost exponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. Born in San Francisco, California, November l, l955, he was raised in the Puerto Rican and Cape Verdean traditions of his family, surrounded by music. The fertile musical environment of the San Francisco Bay Area shaped his career in a unique way. His studies of Afro-Latin music have included several trips to New York, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil and Colombia.He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music, and has earned much respect and recognition as an educator, composer, and record and event producer. He’s been a prolific performer, composer, teacher, writer, radio programmer, and record/event producer whose career has spanned over 35 years.

Known as one of the foremost bassist in the country, Jeff Chambers has played with many great jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Les McCann, Eddie Harris, Benny Carter, Tommy Flanagan, Joe Henderson, Dakota Staton, McCoy Tyner, Joe Williams, Little Jimmie Scott, Tony Williams, Frank Morgan, Dr. Dorothy Donegan, Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Nat Adderley, Milt Jackson, John Hendricks, Benny Golson, Larry Coryell, Hank Crawford, Abbey Lincoln, Ernestine Anderson, Doug Carn, Don Cherry, Clifford Jordan, Laurindo Almeido, Linda Hopkins, Teddy Edwards, Roy McCurdy, Richie Cole, Slide Hampton, Jeff Hamilton, George Coleman, Mel Lewis, Archie Shepp, Cedar Walton, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Ahmad Jamal, Pharoah Sanders, Russell Malone, Red Holloway, Wallace Roney, Houston Person, Curtis Fuller, Hadley Caliman and many many others.

Akira Tana (drums) is known for sparking many top rhythm sections, creating pure musical dialogue with mainstay soloists. His colorful interactive style has led to concert, club and recording work with jazz greats Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt,  Zoot Sims, Hubert Laws, Milt Jackson, Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Paquito D’Rivera, James Moody, JJ Johnson, Lena Horne, the Paul Winter Consort and Manhattan Transfer. A New England Conservatory of Music graduate, Akira is steeped in classical music, having performed at the Tanglewood Festival under directors Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gunther Schuller. He participated in a U.S. State Department concert-clinic tour of South America with the Heath Brothers Jazz Royal family.

A recent article on Larry Vuckovich and Vince Guaraldi 

Concert Pays Tribute By Carol Graham
Published Thursday, February 11, 2016

When a fellow musician admired Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful redwood and glass house in Mill Valley in the 1960s, Guaraldi responded, “I bought it for a song.”

Guaraldi was referring to a little B-side number he’d written called “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” A gentle, likable tune, it stood out from anything else on the airwaves and became a grass-roots hit. It also won the Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition in 1963.

Guaraldi would only live another dozen years, but he left a mark on the world of music that continues to this day.

The Vince Guaraldi Tribute Quintet featuring Larry Vuckovich will perform at Pleasanton’s Firehouse Arts Center on Sunday, February 21st at 2 p.m. Vuckovich, himself a revered musician, holds the unique distinction of having been Guaraldi’s only student, and later his piano partner in the quintet Powder Keg.

“About two years ago I felt it was time to pay tribute to Vince so that people would become more familiar with his true jazz/Latin/Brazilian and funky side – the kind of music that he truly loved,” said Vuckovich. “I met Vince at the famed Black Hawk nightclub in the Tenderloin in about 1957 or 1958. He was Cal Tjader’s pianist and I was fortunate that he took me on as his only student.”

Guaraldi’s fame grew when producer Lee Mendelson heard Cast Your Fate to the Wind playing on the radio while driving in a taxi cab across the Golden Gate Bridge. He tracked down Guaraldi to propose he score the upcoming Peanuts Christmas special, and two weeks later Guaraldi performed over the phone an early version of “Linus and Lucy.”

“Growing up, I was a huge Peanuts fan, and I just loved the music,” said Firehouse Supervisor Robert Vogt. “Of course, Linus and Lucy is my all-time favorite! Being able to hear first-person stories from Larry about his relationship with Vince should be a real treat.”

While Guaraldi was born in North Beach in 1928, Vuckovich was born some 6,300 miles away in Yugoslavia eight years later. His earliest memories are a blend of music and war.

“My childhood was a mixture of happy musical experiences including studying at the music school, playing with friends, and experiencing the dangers of war,” said Vuckovich. “At five years old in 1941, I watched the Nazi and Italian troops roll into my home town of Kotor. Serbian and Montenegrin guerrillas fought the Nazis at different times.

“Both my mother and brother played the piano in the living room. On the family phonograph, I listened to records of Serbian, Balkan/Gypsy-Roma folk music, which left a deep impression on me. Another major experience was listening for the first time to American big band jazz on the radio, probably on U.S. Armed Forces radio.”

Vuckovich’s world changed when he and his family immigrated to San Francisco. For the 14 year old, his “film-noir life morphed into a Technicolor production.” He now lived in the midst of the flourishing jazz scene of the ’50s, one of the most exciting periods in the history of jazz, and he couldn’t wait to dive in.

His personal experiences and stories involve Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, and social critic Lenny Bruce. But he was most influenced being the sole student of Guaraldi.

“Vince would play records of the masters for me, pointing out important elements,” said Vuckovich. “I learned the importance of strong melodic, rhythmic playing, and also the feeling of Latin jazz.

“Besides being a very popular pianist, Vince enjoyed experimenting with improvisation which was not generally present in his studio recordings. I’m bringing to the Firehouse concert a recording from his private home sessions so the audience can sample and experience Vince’s spontaneous improvisational ability. It includes a version of Blue Lullaby, a beautiful jazz waltz melody that he never got to record in the studio.”

Vuckovich will also share favorite memories of Guaraldi, notably that “Miles Davis asked Vince to join his band in the 1963, but Vince turned him down, saying he had his own band and that his hit, Cast Your Fate To The Wind, had a lot of momentum.”

Though Guaraldi passed away in 1976 when Vuckovich was not quite 30, the protégée went on to become a San Francisco treasure himself. Herb Caen raved about him in his column, and December 8, 2006 (his 70th birthday), was declared Larry Vuckovich Day in San Francisco.

Today the Calistoga resident performs in the Vince Guaraldi Tribute Quintet with: Josh Workman, guitar; John Santos, Latin percussion; Jeff Chambers, bass; and Leon Joyce, drums.

September 24 2017


Date: Sunday, September 24, 2017
Time: 3:00 pm
Cost: $20 - $25
Event Categories: ,

Events Calendar

« February 2018 » loading...
Fri 23
Sat 24

Little Throck presents Mulan

Saturday, February 24 @ 1:00 pm
Sat 24
Sun 25

Sunday Sessions Kimrea’s Pro Showcase featuring Kurt Huget

Sunday, February 25 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Mon 26

Class: Set Building and Construction Intensive

Monday, February 26 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm