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Vince Guaraldi Vince Guaraldi

By Derrick Bang

Like most so-called overnight successes, Vincent Anthony Guaraldi—who forever described himself as “a reformed boogie-woogie piano player”—worked hard for his big break.

The man eventually dubbed “Dr. Funk” by his compatriots was born in San Francisco on July 17, 1928; he graduated from Lincoln High School and then San Francisco State College. Guaraldi began performing while in college, haunting sessions at the Black Hawk and Jackson's Nook, sometimes with the Chubby Jackson / Bill Harris band, other times in combos with Sonny Criss and Bill Harris. He played weddings, high school concerts, and countless other small-potatoes gigs.

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