Vince Guaraldi

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Vince Guaraldi
Vinceguaraldi blackwhite.jpg
Background information
Birth nameVincent Anthony Dellaglio
Born(1928-07-17)July 17, 1928
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedFebruary 6, 1976(1976-02-06) (aged 47)
Menlo Park, California
GenresJazz, bossa nova
Occupation(s)Musician, composer, arranger
InstrumentsPiano
Years active1953–76
LabelsWarner Bros., Fantasy
Associated actsCal Tjader, Bola Sete

Vincent Anthony Guaraldi /ɡəˈrældi/ (July 17, 1928 – February 6, 1976), born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio,[1] was an American jazz pianist noted for his innovative compositions and arrangements and for composing music for animated television adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip, as well as his performances on piano as a member of Cal Tjader's 1950s ensembles and for his own solo career which included the radio hit "Cast Your Fate to the Wind".

Early career and Grammy Award[edit]

Guaraldi was born in San Francisco's North Beach area, a place that became very important to his blossoming musical career.[2] His last name changed to Guaraldi after his mother, Carmella (née Marcellino), divorced his biological father (whose last name was Dellaglio) and married Tony Guaraldi, who adopted the boy.[1] His maternal uncle was musician, singer, and whistler Muzzy Marcellino. He graduated from Lincoln High School, attended San Francisco State College, and served in the U.S. Army as a cook in the Korean War.

Guaraldi's first recording was made in November 1953 with Cal Tjader and was released early in 1954. The 10-inch LP was called The Cal Tjader Trio, and 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 Tjader in June 1956 and was an integral part of two 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 Santamaría (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.

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. Fantasy Records 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.

Guaraldi then recorded an album called Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends with guitarist Bola Sete, Fred Marshall (bass) and Jerry Granelli (drums). This began a period of collaboration between Guaraldi and Sete where Guaraldi began experimenting with bossa nova-influenced music as well as with the electric piano. This experimentation may have led to the loss of Fred Marshall, who left the group in 1964 citing "personal differences" after Guaraldi purportedly threw a cup of coffee at Marshall during the 17th Berkeley Jazz Festival.[3] Shortly after this time, Guaraldi undertook the role of composer and pianist for the Eucharist chorus at the San Francisco Grace Cathedral. Utilizing his Latin influences from his bossa nova days with Bola Sete, Guaraldi composed a number of pieces with waltz tempos and jazz standards and later recorded this performance in 1965.[4]

Guaraldi appreciated the potential in some of the radio waves' pop tunes of the day. For instance, he recorded his own version of "I'm a Loser", written by John Lennon and originally a hit for the Beatles.

Compositions for Charles Schulz's Peanuts[edit]

While searching for 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 Guaraldi's trio on the radio while traveling in a taxicab. 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, with drummer Jerry Granelli and bassist Fred Marshall. Guaraldi went on to compose scores for seventeen Peanuts television specials, as well as the 1969 feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown and the unaired television program of the same name.

Death[edit]

Guaraldi died at age 47 on February 6, 1976.[5] The evening before, he had dined at Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson's home and was reportedly not feeling well, complaining of indigestion-like chest discomfort. The following evening, after concluding the first set at Butterfield's Nightclub in Menlo Park, California, with his interpretation of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", Guaraldi and drummer Jim Zimmerman returned to the room they were staying in that weekend at the adjacent Red Cottage Inn, to relax before the next set. Zimmerman commented, "He was walking across the room and just collapsed. That was it." His cause of death has been variously described as a heart attack or an aortic aneurysm. Guaraldi had just finished recording the soundtrack for It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown earlier that afternoon.

Guaraldi's death was a blow to his colleagues. "It was totally unexpected", said 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."[6] He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, California.

Legacy[edit]

A book-length biography of Guaraldi was published in March 2012. Vince Guaraldi at the Piano, by author and Guaraldi archivist Derrick Bang, chronicles Guaraldi's career and role in the Northern California jazz scene, and also includes a complete discography and filmography, as well as an appendix of quotations from Guaraldi's former sidemen.[2]

Some of Guaraldi's Peanuts compositions have been recorded by Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, and other jazz musicians.

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. He released "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" on the album Waiting for Spring in 1989.

Pianist George Winston released a Guaraldi tribute album in 1996 entitled Linus and Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi.[7][8][9] 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."[10] The album was very successful, leading Winston to record a follow-up entitled Love Will Come – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Volume 2, released in early 2010.[11] In 2003, a 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.

Discography[edit]

As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1955 Modern Music from San Francisco Some tracks trio, with Eddie Duran (guitar), Ron Crotty (bass); some tracks quartet, with Jerry Dodgion (alto sax), Eugene Wright (bass), John Markham (drums); includes other tracks without Guaraldi[12]
1956 Vince Guaraldi Trio Fantasy Trio, with Eddie Duran (guitar), Dean Reilly (bass)
1957 A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing Fantasy Trio, with Eddie Duran (guitar), Dean Reilly (bass)
1962 Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus Fantasy Trio, with Monty Budwig (bass), Colin Bailey (drums); also known as Cast Your Fate to the Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus
1963 In Person Fantasy With Eddie Duran (guitar), Fred Marshall (bass), Colin Bailey (drums), Benny Valarde (percussion); in concert
1963? Jazz Casual: Paul Winter / Bola Sete & Vince Guaraldi television recording
1963? Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends Fantasy With Bola Sete (guitar), Fred Marshall (bass guitar), Jerry Granelli (drums)
1964 The Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi With Eddie Duran (guitar), Fred Marshall (bass), Jerry Granelli (drums), Bill Fitch and Benny Valarde (percussion), strings
1964? Jazz Impressions of "A Boy Named Charlie Brown"
1964–65 A Charlie Brown Christmas Fantasy With Fred Marshal (bass), Jerry Granelli (drums); various others on some tracks; reissued with extra material as A Charlie Brown Christmas [Original Recordings Remastered]
1965 From All Sides Fantasy With Bola Sete (guitar), Monty Budwig (bass), Jerry Granelli and Nick Martinez (drums)
1965 The Grace Cathedral Concert Fantasy With Tom Breeson (bass), Lee Charlton (drums), St Paul's Church of San Rafael choir
1966 Live at El Matador Fantasy With Bola Sete (guitar); in concert
1967? An Afternoon with The Vince Guaraldi Quartet with Eddie Duran; in concert
1968? Vince Guaraldi with San Francisco Boys Chorus
1968? Oh, Good Grief! Warner Bros. With Eddie Duran (guitar), Stanley Gilbert (bass), Carl Burnett (drums)
1969? A Boy Named Charlie Brown With Monty Budwig (bass), Colin Bailey (drums)
1969? The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi
late 1960s The Charlie Brown Suite & Other Favorites
1970? Alma-Ville
late 1960s – early 1970s Oaxaca
late 1960s – early 1970s North Beach
1974? Live on the Air Trio; in concert
1972–75? Vince Guaraldi and the Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials
1973–75? Vince Guaraldi and the Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials: Volume 2
Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits

Main sources:[13][14]

Holiday 100 chart entries[edit]

Since many radio stations in the US adopt a format change to Christmas music each December, many holiday hits have an annual spike in popularity during the last few weeks of the year and are retired once the season is over.[15] In December 2011, Billboard began a Holiday Songs chart with 50 positions that monitors the last five weeks of each year to "rank the top holiday hits of all eras using the same methodology as the Hot 100, blending streaming, airplay, and sales data",[16] and in 2013 the number of positions on the chart was doubled, resulting in the Holiday 100.[17] Three tracks that were included on the soundtrack to the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas have made appearances on the Holiday 100 and are noted below according to the holiday season in which they charted there.

Title Holiday season peak chart positions Album
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
"Christmas Time Is Here" 30[18] 20[19] 22[20] 35[21] 19[22] 17[23] 18[24] 38[25] A Charlie Brown Christmas
"O Tannenbaum" 50[26] 57[27] 72[21] 71[28] 64[29] 71[30] 29[31]
"Linus and Lucy" 17[32] 28[27] 36[33] 20[28] 20[34] 22[30] 31[35] Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown/
A Charlie Brown Christmas

Compilations[edit]

  • Greatest Hits (Fantasy)
  • Essential Standards (Fantasy)
  • The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy)[36]
  • It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

As sideman[edit]

  • 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
  • 1957 Frank Rosolino Quintet
  • 1958 Mas Ritmo Caliente (Cal Tjader)
  • 1958 Cal Tjader-Stan Getz Sextet (all-star studio session that includes a long version of Guaraldi's piece "Ginza")
  • 1958 Latin Concert (Cal Tjader Quintet – another all-star group with Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo and Al McKibbon)
  • 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)
  • 1959 Latinsville! (Victor Feldman)
  • 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)
  • 2008 Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-1980 (Guaraldi performs on four tracks in 1958 with Cal Tjader's group featuring Santamaria, Bobo, McKibbon, and guest clarinetist Buddy DeFranco at the festival's inaugural year)

Albums showcasing or featuring Guaraldi's music[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Vince Guaraldi—the sound of Yuletide on these shores" i-ITALY, December 24, 2010
  2. ^ a b Bang, Derrick (2012). Vince Guaraldi at the Piano. NC, USA: McFarland. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7864-5902-5. Archived from the original on April 6, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2011.
  3. ^ "Downbeat: Vince Guaraldi Trio Takes A Permanent Coffee Break." Downbeat Magazine 1964 (August) p.9
  4. ^ Derrick Bang "Vince Guaraldi", Peanuts Collector's Club Newsletter, 1993. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  5. ^ "Jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi dies at age 47". Lodi News-Sentinel. California. UPI. February 9, 1976. p. 3.
  6. ^ A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition by Lee Mendelson, Bill Melendez, p. 91. HarperCollins Publishing, 2000
  7. ^ McGarrigle, Dale (October 19, 1996). "Pianist pays homage to Guaraldi". Bangor Daily News. Maine. p. C1.
  8. ^ Biles, Jan (September 5, 1996). "Pianist casts fate with unique style". Lawrence Journal-World. Kansas. The Mag. p. 4.
  9. ^ Beauchamp, Lane (September 12, 1996). "Pianist tackles 'Peanuts' composer". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. (Kansas City Star). p. 8B.
  10. ^ Maples, Tina (November 20, 1996). "Music Just Happens To Winston". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  11. ^ "Recent Projects at George Winston official website". Georgewinston.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  12. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Ron Crotty / Jerry Dodgion / Vince Guaraldi / The Vince Guaraldi Quartet / The Jerry Dodgion Quartet / The Ron Crotty Trio: Modern Music from San Francisco". AllMusic. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  13. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1992). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP & Cassette (1st ed.). Penguin. pp. 452–453. ISBN 978-0-14-015364-4.
  14. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 614. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  15. ^ Judkis, Maura (December 22, 2015). "Jingle bell rock: Why lots of radio stations go all-Christmas in December". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  16. ^ "Andy Williams Hits New High, The Ronettes 'Ride' Back After 52 Years & More Hot 100 Chart Moves". billboard.com. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  17. ^ "Carey Brings Back 'Christmas'". Billboard. December 14, 2013. p. 115.
  18. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 17, 2011". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  19. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 22, 2012". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  20. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of January 4, 2014". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Holiday 100: The week of December 27, 2014". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  22. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of January 9, 2016". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  23. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of January 7, 2017". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  24. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of January 3, 2018". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  25. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 29, 2018". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  26. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 10, 2011". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Holiday 100: The week of December 28, 2013". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  28. ^ a b "Holiday 100: The week of December 12, 2015". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  29. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 17, 2016". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  30. ^ a b "Holiday 100: The week of December 9, 2017". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  31. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of January 5, 2019". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  32. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 15, 2012". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  33. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 13, 2014". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  34. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 10, 2016". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  35. ^ "Holiday 100: The week of December 8, 2018". billboard.com. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  36. ^ "Concord Music press release" (PDF). Jazzpublicity.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 7, 2018.

External links[edit]