A Charlie Brown Christmas was my introduction to Vince Guaraldi. It was his trio (Vince on piano, drummer Jerry Granelli, and bassist Puzzy Firth standing in for regular bassist Fred Marshall) that recorded the soundtrack, and from the opening notes of “Christmastime Is Here” (not included here, but here is a link) to the end (the casts’s rendition of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”), I was fascinated with the music. It just sounded good. As I got older and became more familiar with his music, I realized that the Peanuts specials were only the tip of the iceberg. He was a main figure in the popularity of bossa nova, and recorded Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, where he covered the music of Luiz Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and João Gilberto from that movie on side one and recorded several other tunes, including his hit “Cast Your Fate To The Wind,” on side two. (Joe Walsh covered that tune as part of his “Bomber” medley on 1969’s Rides Again by the James Gang.) He even wrote a Mass which he performed in a concert at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, again in 1965. Sadly, he died in 1976 between sets at Butterfield’s Nightclub in Menlo Park, California, of either a heart attack or an aortic aneurysm.
These two tracks are also from the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas: the first is “Skating,” which played during the ice skating at the pond scene of the cartoon, and the second is “Christmas Is Coming,” which accompanied the scene of Charlie Brown, picked to direct the school Christmas play, arriving at rehearsal to find all of the actors and actresses dancing while Schroeder plays this on the piano and Snoopy backs him on bass. (I’m doing that from memory, having not seen the show in over twenty years, so any mistakes can be chalked up to that.)
I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s Two for Tuesday, December 18, 2012. See you next week!