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Vince Guaraldi: Wikis


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Vince Guaraldi

Background information
Birth name Vincent Anthony Guaraldi
Born July 17, 1928(1928-07-17)
Origin San Francisco, California, United States
Died February 6, 1976 (aged 47)
Genres Jazz
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, Soundtrack
Instruments Piano, Electric Piano, Guitar, vocals
Years active 1953–1976
Labels Warner Bros. Records
Fantasy Records
Associated acts Vince Guaraldi Trio
Cal Tjader

Vincent Anthony "Vince" Guaraldi (July 17, 1928 – February 6, 1976) was an Italian American jazz musician, and pianist best known for composing music for animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip. Guaraldi was born in San Francisco, California. He graduated from Lincoln High School, attended San Francisco State College, and served as an Army cook in the Korean War.


Early career and Grammy Award

Guaraldi's first recording was made in November 1953 with Cal Tjader and came out early in 1954. The early 10 inch LP was called The Cal Tjader Trio, included "Chopsticks Mambo," "Vibra-Tharpe," and "Lullaby of the Leaves." By 1955, Guaraldi had his own trio with Eddie Duran and Dean Reilly. He then reunited with Cal Tjader in June, 1956 and was an integral part of two great bands that the vibraphonist assembled. The first band played mainly straight jazz and included Al Torre (drums), Eugene Wright (bass) and Luis Kant (congas and bongos). The second band was formed in the spring of 1958 and included Al McKibbon (bass), Mongo Santamaria (congas and bongos) and Willie Bobo (drums and timbales). Reed men Paul Horn and Jose "Chombo" Silva were also added to the group for certain live performances and recordings. He made a big splash with his performance with Tjader at the 1958 Monterey Jazz Festival.

Guaraldi left the group early in 1959 to pursue his own projects full time. He probably would have remained a well-respected but minor jazz figure had he not written an original number to fill out his covers of Antonio Carlos Jobim/Luis Bonfá tunes on his 1962 album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, inspired by the French/Brazilian film Black Orpheus, which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Fantasy released "Samba de Orpheus" as a single, trying to catch the building bossa nova wave, but it was destined to sink without a trace when radio DJs began flipping it over and playing the B-side, Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." A gentle, likeable tune, it stood out from everything else on the airwaves, and became a grass-roots hit. It also won the grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. While "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" by Guaraldi achieved modest chart success as a single in 1963, a cover version two years later by British group Sounds Orchestral cracked the Billboard top 10 (in the spring of 1965). Unlike many songwriters who grow weary of their biggest hits, Guaraldi never minded taking requests to play it when he appeared live. "It's like signing the back of a check," he once remarked.

Nevertheless, his most recognized tune is "Linus and Lucy" from A Charlie Brown Christmas, a song which is known by fans worldwide as the musical signature of the Peanuts franchise.

Compositions for Charles Schulz's Peanuts

While searching for just the right music to accompany a planned Peanuts television documentary, Lee Mendelson (the producer of the special) heard a single version of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Vince Guaraldi's trio on the radio while traveling in a taxicab on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Mendelson contacted Ralph J. Gleason, jazz columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and was put in touch with Guaraldi. He proposed that Guaraldi score the upcoming Peanuts Christmas special and Guaraldi enthusiastically took the job, performing a version of what became "Linus and Lucy" over the phone two weeks later. The soundtrack was recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, whose other members were Puzzy Firth standing in bassist for band member Fred Marshall, who was ill at the time, and drummer Jerry Granelli. Guaraldi went on to compose scores for sixteen Peanuts television specials, plus the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown as well as the unaired television program of the same name.


Guaraldi died of a heart attack at age 47 on February 6, 1976. He was found in a room at the Red Cottage Inn, where he had been relaxing between sets at Butterfield's nightclub in Menlo Park, California. Guaraldi had just finished recording the soundtrack for It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown earlier that afternoon.

Guaraldi's untimely passing was a blow to his colleagues. "It was totally unexpected," said Peanuts executive producer Lee Mendelson. "The day of his funeral, they played the Charlie Brown music over the sound system in the church. It was not an easy day; he was so young. It was one of the saddest days of my life. He was up to my house the night before [his death], and said he had not been feeling well, and didn't know what it was." Peanuts animator Bill Meléndez added, "He was a real good guy and we miss him."[1]

After Guaraldi's death, the music for the Peanuts series was composed first by San Francisco film and television composer Ed Bogas, who scored several Peanuts TV specials and motion pictures up to the early 1990s, along with Bogas' future wife Desirée Goyette, and occasionally, Judy Munsen. Bogas also did his own arrangements of Guaraldi's "Linus And Lucy" theme as a nod to the musician (most notably in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown and What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!).



David Benoit

Noted jazz musician David Benoit has often credited Guaraldi and the original Peanuts Christmas special music for his interest in jazz. In 1985, Benoit recorded a cover of Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" for an album called This Side Up, which enjoyed considerable radio airplay and helped launch the smooth jazz genre.

George Winston

New age pianist George Winston released a Guaraldi tribute album in 1996 entitled Linus and Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi. Winston performed many Peanuts songs that had not been released by Guaraldi himself. "I love his melodies and his chord progressions," Winston said of Guaraldi. "He has a really personal way of doing voicings."[2] The album was very successful, leading Winston to record a follow-up entitled Love Will Come - The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Vol. 2; the album is scheduled for release on February 2, 2010.[3]

In 2003, a heretofore unknown live performance of the eight-part "Charlie Brown Suite" was released on the album The Charlie Brown Suite & Other Favorites. The performance was culled from tapes in Winston's private collection.


Albums as leader or co-leader

  • 1955 Modern Music from San Francisco
  • 1956 Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • 1957 A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing
  • 1962 Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus (also known as "Cast Your Fate to the Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus")
  • 1963 Vince Guaraldi In Person
  • 1963 Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends
  • 1964 The Latin Side Of Vince Guaraldi
  • 1964 Jazz Impressions Of A Boy Named Charlie Brown
  • 1965 From All Sides (with Bola Sete)
  • 1965 The Grace Cathedral Concert
  • 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • 1966 Live at El Matador (with Bola Sete)
  • 1968 Vince Guaraldi With San Francisco Boys Chorus
  • 1968 Oh Good Grief!
  • 1969 The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi
  • 1970 Alma-Ville
  • 1989 Greatest Hits (Compilation album by Fantasy Records)
  • 1998 Charlie Brown's holiday Hits
  • 2001 Jazz Casual: Paul Winter / Bola Sete & Vince Guaraldi (1963 television recording)
  • 2003 The Charlie Brown Suite & Other Favorites (previously unreleased material from late 1960s)
  • 2005 Oaxaca (previously unreleased material from late 1960s/early 1970s)
  • 2006 North Beach (previously unreleased material from late 1960s/early 1970s)
  • 2006 A Charlie Brown Christmas [Original Recordings Remastered] Reissued 1965 album with additional recordings and more complete versions of some tracks
  • 2006 Vince Guaraldi and the Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials (previously unreleased recordings from 1972–1975)
  • 2008 Vince Guaraldi and the Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials: Volume 2
  • 2008 Live on the Air
  • 2009 Essential Standards (Compilation album by Fantasy Records)
  • 2009 The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Compilation album by Fantasy Records including two previously unreleased tracks)[4]

Notable appearances on other albums

  • 1953 The Cal Tjader Trio (Guaraldi's first recorded session)
  • 1956 Introducing Gus Mancuso (w / Cal Tjader)
  • 1957 Jazz At The Blackhawk (Cal Tjader Quartet)
  • 1957 Cal Tjader (Cal Tjader Quartet)
  • 1957 Conte Candoli Quartet
  • 1958 Mas Ritmo Caliente (Cal Tjader)
  • 1958 Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Sextet (all-star studio session that includes a long version of Guaraldi's piece "Ginza")
  • 1958 Latin Concert (Cal Tjader Quintet)
  • 1959 A Night At The Blackhawk (Cal Tjader Sextet)
  • 1959 Latin For Lovers (Cal Tjader with Strings)
  • 1959 Tjader Goes Latin (Cal Tjader)
  • 1959 West Coast Jazz In Hifi (Richie Kamuca / Bill Holman)
  • 1960 Little Band, Big Jazz (The Conte Candoli All Stars)
  • 1974 Jimmy Witherspoon & Ben Webster – Previously Unissued Recordings (1960s session from Verve Records archive; the Black Orpheus incarnation of Guaraldi's trio supports the two leaders)

Albums showcasing or featuring Vince Guaraldi's music


  1. ^ A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition by Lee Mendelson, Bill Melendez, p. 91. HarperCollins Publishing, 2000
  2. ^ Maples, Tina (November 20, 1996). "Music Just Happens To Winston". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  
  3. ^ Recent Projects at George Winston official website
  4. ^ Concord Music press release
  • Liner notes to the 2006 re-mastered CD release of A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack.

External links


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