Monday, April 12, 2010

Vince Guaraldi - Vince Guaraldi's Greatest Hits (1980)

The late Vince Guaraldi is known to most of us only as the pianist on the soundtracks to the Peanuts TV specials and especially as the genius behind the most famous jazz Christmas album in history, A Charlie Brown Christmas. That is a real shame for a man who died too young of a heart attack at age 47 just after completing work on another Peanuts TV show earlier that day.

Fantasy Records released this fourteen song disc, Vince Guaraldi's Greatest Hits, on vinyl in 1980 and on CD in 1989. It is far from being a complete retrospective because it only contains music Guaraldi recorded for Fantasy but it still serves as a very nice overview of this intriguing jazz man's work.

Guaraldi started making records in the mid-50s as a sideman for Cal Tjader. He also sat in with Woody Herman. Later he played with percussionist Mongo Santamaria and Dave Brubeck's bassist, Eugene Wright.

In 1959 Guaraldi set out on his own. It would be 1963 before he hit paydirt when "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" became a hit single and earned him a Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. Soon after that he worked with Brazilian Bola Sete, an acoustic jazz guitarist who made a name for himself during the early 60s when his country influenced a lot of jazz in America and elsewhere. Greatest Hits features Sete on "Ginza," "Star Song," and Henry Mancini's "Days Of Wine and Roses." The most interesting collaboration between the duo is an instrumental version of Lennon-McCartney's "I'm a Loser" featuring Guaraldi and Sete as the only two musicians.

Of course, the the disc also includes "Oh Good Grief," the world famous "Linus and Lucy," and "Christmas Time Is Here," an instrumental that can be played anytime of the year.

Guaraldi was always able to sustain a groove without getting frantic, improvise without losing site of the melody, and both compose and interpret other people's music with ease.

Even if you've never heard anything else by Guaraldi except for his work from the Charlie Brown specials you've already been schooled in how tasteful jazz piano can be.  Adding Vince Guaraldi's Greatest Hits to your collection is surely a safe bet.

Visit Guaraldi's official website.

Listen to "Cast Your Fate To The Wind."

No comments:

Post a Comment