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Vince Guaraldi: Oaxaca (2004)

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Vince Guaraldi: Oaxaca How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

"Dr. Funk" may seems like an odd nickname for Vince Guaraldi, most known for composing the music for the Peanuts specials, yet this is how he was known by his peers. While there are certainly others more deserving of the moniker, this new reissue will shed some light as to how he got it. For in the latter part of his career Guaraldi spent time fronting a jazz-rock band in addition to his recurring gig writing music for cartoons. Largely giving up the piano for the Hammond B-3 and the Fender Rhodes, he gathered together a group more interested in sustaining a funky groove than developing any novel improvisation; Oaxaca could be called In A Silent Way, Charlie Brown. These recordings are previously unreleased and were recorded in 1971.

Powered by a rhythm section well versed in providing a driving rock beat, Guaraldi and multi-instrumentalist Vince Denham tear through a selection of rock tunes. Armed with an arsenal of electronic devices, they turn "You Can't Always Get What You Want" into a ferocious squall, yet display a gentler touch on "Something." It's a testament to Guaraldi's abilities as a musician that all this works as well as it does, and his treatments of these relatively new songs show a skill at interpretation that was never quite apparent in his early days as a pianist dealing with standards. It should come as no surprise that Guaraldi is still capable of crafting amazingly catchy melodies, and the title track is one of his finest.

Although many will prefer the whimsical musicality of Guaraldi's Peanuts work, Oaxaca makes the claim that Guaraldi could work successfully in a variety of settings. David Guaraldi is dedicated to getting his father's unreleased work into circulation, starting with last years' release of The Charlie Brown Suite. Oaxaca is an interesting second choice, but no doubt Guaraldi's fans, who are probably the main target for this reissue, will have this to tide them over until Alma-Ville gets reissued.


Track Listing: 1. Charlie Brown Blues 2. Oaxaca 3. We've Only Just Begun 4. You Can't Always Get What You Want 5. Something 6. You're A Good Sport, Charlie Brown 7. Watch What Happens 8. You Never Give Me Your Money 9. Oaxaca (alternate take).

Personnel: Vince Guaraldi - piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3, clavinet; Mike Clark - drums; Koji - bass; Vince Denham - saxophone, flute.

Record Label: Self Produced

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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