July CD of the Month: A Summer Classic
Vince Guaraldi Trio: Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown Fantasy Records
During the Holiday season of 1965, CBS aired the animated special; A Charlie Brown Christmas which became an instant classic. Vince Guaraldi in a trio format scored the TV special and the music became very popular not only with fans of Peanuts but with jazz followers as well. For the remainder of his life the music of Peanuts became part of Vince’s performance songbook much to the delight of audiences around the world.
What is not known to most is that a year before A Charlie Brown Christmas Mr. Guaraldi was commissioned to write the soundtrack for another Peanuts TV presentation, A Boy Named Charlie Brown which was an hour-long documentary about the creator of Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz, a lifelong fan of jazz and classical music. Sadly, the executives of CBS decided not to broadcast the special, neither in its 1-hour length nor the condensed ½-hour version. Regardless, Fantasy Records who owned the rights to the music and had Guaraldi on their roster of artists released the soundtrack as Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown. Vince on piano with Monty Budwig on bass and drummer Colin Bailey provide a provocative music atmosphere for the cast of the legendary characters of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts.
This summer marks the 50th Anniversary of the initial release of the sound track; the CD has been remastered and contains updated liner notes by the Peanuts historian, Derrick Bang which outlines the fascinating back story of the project. According to Mr. Bang; "Consider the historical irony, this must be one of the few times that a record label has released a soundtrack album for a film never granted public exposure." Bang adds; "music historians familiar with early 20th century honky-tonk rags no doubt smiled the first time they heard Oh, Good Grief, a familiar melody that had been used in other pop contexts prior to being ‘borrowed' by Guaraldi." Among the nine tracks from the original Fantasy recording is the now-iconic Linus and Lucy, which finally made its way to prime-time television a year later in the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, which aired on the CBS network in December 1965.
The music performed by the Vince Guaraldi tribute is an ideal fit for the characters of Peanuts proved by the enduring popularity of both the music and the comic strip.