Wednesday, December 23, 2015

a charlie brown christmas

Vince Guaraldi and Charles Schulz made an indelible mark on what Christmas is all about with this uncommercial classic.   Guaraldi had made a name for himself in the jazz world with artists like Cal Tjader and Stan Getz and recorded eight albums of his own (Modern Music from San Francisco in 1955,  Vince Guaraldi Trio in 1956,  A Flower is a Lovesome Thing in 1957,  Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus aka Cast Your Fate to the Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus in 1962,, Vince Guaraldi In Person and  Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends in 1963,  and  The Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi in 1964) before making his big break.  

It was the single "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" that caught the attention of producer Lee Mendleson, who commissioned Guaraldi to do the music for his documentary about Charles Schulz.  The result was released as Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown in 1964.  The documentary was only aired once; but when the producers began work on an animated television special with Schulz' 'Peanuts' comic strip characters, Guaraldi was brought back to do the soundtrack.  The television score for  A Charlie Brown Christmas was recorded at Whitney Studio in Glendale, California.   The songs were re-recorded for the album several months later at Fantasy Recording Studios in San Francisco, California with The Vince Guaraldi Trio featuring Jerry Granelli on drums;  Vince Guaraldi on piano, Hammond organ, and arrangements;  and  Fred Marshall on double bass.  The old rhythm section of  Colin Bailey on drums and Monty Budwig on double bass sat in for "Greensleeves".  The children's chorus was performed by members of the choir of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in San Rafael California had appeared on Guaraldi's The Grace Cathedral Concert earlier that year.  In the interim he had also released  From All Sides with Bola Sete.  

The executives at CBS were not pleased with the anti-commercial religious message of the show; but Schulz stuck firm on Linus' speech relating the story of the birth of Christ.  They had already put loads of advertising into it, so they were forced to air it.  The television special and the soundtrack album were both big hits, gaining more fans and sales with each passing year.  The soundtrack album for A Charlie Brown Christmas has gone on to become one of the biggest holiday albums ever, being certified as triple platinum with sales of over three million copies.     A Charlie Brown Christmas has also been inducted into  Grammy Hall of Fame and made a part of the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry list of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" sound recordings.   The television special won  an Emmy and Peabody Award.  

A Charlie Brown Christmas

full album:

"O Tannenbaum" (Ernst Anschütz) – 0:00 
"What Child Is This" (William Chatterton Dix) – 5:08 
"My Little Drum" (Vince Guaraldi) – 7:33 
"Linus and Lucy" (Guaraldi) – 10:46 
"Christmas Time Is Here" (Vocal) (Guaraldi) – 13:53 
"Skating" (Guaraldi) – 16:40 
"Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" (Charles Wesley) – 19:07 
"Christmas Is Coming" (Guaraldi) – 21:02 
"Für Elise" (Ludwig van Beethoven) – 24:28 
"The Christmas Song" (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 25:35 
"Greensleeves" (Traditional) – 28:53 
"Christmas Time Is Here" (Instrumental) (Guaraldi) – 34:20

A Charlie Brown Christmas
television special:

A Charlie Brown Christmas by atsau

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