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Published: 2014/07/01
by Ron Hart

Vince Guaraldi Trio
Jazz Impressions of _A Boy Named Charlie Brown_


For many jazz fans, Vince Guaraldi’s soundtracks to the Charlie Brown animated specials that aired throughout the 60s and 70s provided the ultimate entryway into one of the most complex and compelling factions of American music.

While the pianist’s score to 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas remains the gold standard in the discography, closing in on second by a nose hair is the long beloved soundtrack to a documentary on Peanuts creator Charles Schulz that was filmed for CBS but never aired. 1964’s A Boy Named Charlie Brown —not to be confused with the classic comic strip’s first feature film of the same name from 1969—is said to have been the catalyst which inspired the TV execs to green light the Christmas special and its subsequent sequels in spite of passing on airing it. And while Guaraldi and his trio had garnered critical acclaim prior for such seminal early material as 1956’s A Flower is a Lovesome Thing and 1962’s Cast Your Fate to the Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, it was the ten compositions he delivered to producer Lee Mendelson that would canonize him as one of the great men who brought jazz music to the masses with such upbeat variations on the piano trio format as “Pebble Beach”, the iconic “Linus and Lucy” and a spare, eloquent rendition of Bart Howard’s 1954 hit “Fly Me to the Moon” (available on the CD only), which was popularized in ’64 by Frank Sinatra in concert with NASA’s first trips to space with the Gemini program.

In honor of its 50th anniversary, Concord Music Group has done a fantastic job in paying tribute to this landmark soundtrack and the joy it has brought to the lives of jazzbos young and old for a solid half-century. The CD version of the collection features new liner notes by Peanuts historian Derrick Bang as well as an alternate take on “Baseball Theme”. But cooler still is the vinyl version of this reissue, which was printed up on orange wax, brings back the original cover with Vince at the piano adorned by Charlie Brown and the gang and reproductions of the 8 ×10 lithographs of Peanuts characters that were included in the original LP.

Whether you are a bop head or not is irrelevant, as J_azz Impressions of “A Boy Named Charlie Brown”_ makes a triumphant return to maintain its place as one of the most important recordings in American pop for the young and old alike. –

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