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Vince Guaraldi: The Charlie Brown Suite & Other Favorites

David Rickert By

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Vince Guaraldi has earned a large degree of renown and cemented his place in musical history as the composer of “Linus and Lucy” and the rest of the music for the Charlie Brown TV specials. Guaraldi died in 1976, and thus this new collection is the first by the pianist to appear in quite some time. These recordings came from the personal collection of George Winston (an unabashed Guaraldi fan) and were shepherded into release by Guaraldi’s son David.

The CD seems more like a grab bag from unreleased sessions rather than a cohesive collection, yet it is dominated by the “Charlie Brown Suite,” a live recording of an extended composition in which Guaraldi stitched together a handful of melodies and recorded them with orchestral arrangements. Although the overall effect sounds like the background music for a stage production, there’s no escaping the warm, catchy melodies, as simple and inviting as a plate of chocolate chip cookies. “Rain, Rain Go Away” is one of Guaraldi’s loveliest melodies and “Peppermint Patty” and “The Charlie Brown Theme” are prime examples of the lightly-swinging, Latin-tinged miniatures that Guaraldi excelled at creating.

Those only familiar with the Christmas album will find plenty of new music to enjoy, although some who prefer the jazzier setting of the trio recordings may be inspired to seek out the original recordings of these pieces. Certainly the “Charlie Brown Suite” will be welcomed by all Guaraldi fans, yet the odds and ends recordings also featured here hint at more unreleased treasures. If Guaraldi’s son is successful in his crusade, we may be seeing more in the future.

Track Listing: 1. Linus and Lucy with the Band 2. The Charlie Brown Theme. The Charlie Brown Suite: 3. Intro with Linus and Lucy 4. Happiness Is 5. Peppermint Patty 6. Charlie Brown Theme 7. Rain, Rain Go Away 8. Red Baron 9. Closing 10. Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Personnel: Vince Guaraldi, piano; Amici Della Musica; Eddie Duran, guitar; Fred Marshall, bass; John Waller, Drums.

Title: The Charlie Brown Suite & Other Favorites | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

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