Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mass enjoyment

Music remains fresh and vibrant as long as it continues to be presented for public appreciation.

To that end, I'm delighted to learn that Guaraldi's Jazz Mass will be presented again this weekend: 6 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, 35 S. Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18701 (570-825-6653).

The service will be hosted by Bill Carter and the Presbybop Quartet. The musicians will include Carter (piano), Mike Carbone (flute), Joe Michaels (bass) and Tyler Dempsey (drums), along with the St. Stephen's choir, under the direction of Mark Laubach.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that Carter was involved with both of the 50th anniversary presentations of Guaraldi's Mass, which took place during the late summer of 2015. Plenty of further details about those events can be found here and here.

Pennsylvania residents -- and anybody close enough to participate —- are encouraged to join Carter and Presbybop, as they present  Guaraldi's Jazz Mass in this extraordinary setting. Written six months before his soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Mass is a highly melodic composition, and the first jazz mass ever performed as part of an American church service.

It debuted May 21, 1965, at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. The music was recorded, but never written down. To mark the Mass' aforementioned 50th anniversary, Carter transcribed the music from original and unreleased recordings.

He remains just as excited today, as he was three years ago.

"We're looking forward to presenting Guaraldi's little-known Mass once again, in a worship setting," he said. "The invitation came from internationally known organist and church musician Mark Laubach. His parish is celebrating its 200th anniversary, and the church council wanted to do something unusual. So the church choir will sing 'Missa Marialis' from the old red Episcopalian hymnal, and Presbybop will supply Guaraldi's accompaniment.

"As I've been working through the material once again, I'm struck anew by its brilliance. Guaraldi's settings are quite melodic, and the harmonies are beguiling. The outstanding St. Stephen's choir is thrilled to sing this wonderful music, and I'm reminded of how important it is to keep this music in the air. 

"What a privilege this is!"

This is a rare opportunity to hear Guaraldi's composition in a worship setting similar to that where it first was conceived. All involved are pleased to offer this event during the 200th anniversary year of St. Stephen's.

For additional information, visit Presbybop or St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Concerto-izing, Episode 2

Work on the newly commissioned Peanuts Concerto has proceeded smoothly, and Dick Tunney has kindly paused on occasion, in order to keep us up to date. (Read about the genesis of this project here.)

When last Dick checked in, he reported being “almost finished” with the second (Christmas) movement. “I did finish the piano portion, and sent it to Jeffrey [Biegel],” he said. “Lots of exclamation points and thumbs up from him.”

As of this moment, the piece’s premiere is scheduled for March 2019, “but there could well be a prior performance,” Dick adds, “depending on when the work is completed and ready for the stage.”

I was curious about his decision to begin with the middle movement (having naively assumed that one works on such a project from start to finish). He kindly sent a marvelously detailed reply, and I’ll turn the rest of this post over to him:

********

I began with this movement because I’m most familiar with the songs in the Christmas special. As I get to the end of this concerto, there will be times when I’ll be slogging my way through, and I never want to be doing that at the beginning of a project. Pace and momentum tend to keep my interest up; once I get a good bit of a piece under my belt, it’s always nice to look back and see the progress made.  

The plan to have a Christmas movement was there from the beginning, and building it to be a pull-out/stand-alone movement also was present from the outset. Placing it in the middle of the concerto probably is 90% in stone at this point, but I’m not ready for the cement to harden on that idea.  

The previous concerto that I did stayed pretty closely to typical concert form for a three-movement work: fast/slow/fast. As it stands right now, the Christmas movement isn’t exclusively slow. The anchor (of course!) is “Linus and Lucy,” which will appear in some form or fashion as a theme — or theme fragment — in each of the three movements.  

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Vince in a symphony hall!

This should be a very exciting year for Guaraldi fans.

Nashville-based musician, composer and arranger Dick Tunney has been commissioned to create what is being dubbed a Peanuts Concerto: an ambitious work that will morph Guaraldi’s most recognizable themes into a symphonic fantasy for solo piano and orchestra.

Jeffrey Biegel
The project was spearheaded by Tunney’s colleague Jeffrey Biegel, a celebrated New York-based pianist/composer whose accomplishments and accolades would tax even the most encyclopedic biographer.

“He’s a tremendous player,” Tunney notes, during a recent chat, “an off-the-charts, crazy-good Juilliard artist. When he gets something under his hands, he owns it.”

“I read an interview with Charles Schulz’s son Craig, back in 2013 or so,” Biegel explains, picking up the narrative. “Craig was struck by something that worried his father, who at one point wondered aloud, ‘Do you think they’ll remember me?’

“Well, in his case, of course. But the thing is, everything you’ve done, when you pass, it’s over. People will think less about you, and what you’ve done, if you’re not around any more. I sent Craig an email, and told him that really hit home, because not only should Schulz and Peanuts go on, but what about the music? Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts music is either locked up in those specials for eternity, or they’re only heard in orchestral versions usually adapted from the Christmas special.

“There’s not a new performance work at all, based on Guaraldi’s Peanuts music ... and certainly not a concerto for piano and orchestra. So I’ve been commissioned to take the music from those TV specials, and place them into a musical work that orchestras can book and present to audiences.”

Biegel has developed an artistic business model that has been successful for 20 years: He initiates projects with composers; raises all the money from donors and orchestras, to pay the composer to write a concerto for him; and then he (Biegel) gets to play it with the orchestras involved.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Looking back Grace-fully

Rough drafts — whether of music, artworks or written material — generally deserve to be seen only by their creators. After all, the artist in question wishes to put the best foot forward, and it’s hardly fair to view warts-and-all preliminary efforts.

(Which is why, just in passing, I had absolutely no interest in Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, when released in July 2015. Ample evidence existed, prior to publication, that it was an early draft of what eventually blossomed into To Kill a Mockingbird ... despite the efforts of opportunists who insisted, quite falsely, that it was a wholly different “lost novel.”)

All this notwithstanding, exceptions crop up every once in awhile; what follows is one of them.

Way back in the day, John Leydecker was one of many youthful members of the St. Paul’s Church choir, which rehearsed extensively with Guaraldi and later performed the debut of his Jazz Mass at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, on May 21, 1965. John’s mother Mary was a part-time journalist; several months after that event, she wrote an informative article about Guaraldi, the choir and the evolution and presentation of the Mass. Her article — and numerous photos — were submitted to both The Episcopalian (a monthly church journal published between April 1960 and March 1990) and the Marin Daily Independent Journal. If the piece appeared in the former, I’ve not yet been able to track it down; it did, however, get published in the latter on October 23, 1965.

What appeared in the Journal, however, is significantly different than Mary Leydecker’s original draft: something I’m able to state with certainty, since John kindly provided a copy of the original typewritten manuscript. It’s much more laid-back and conversational than the Journal version, and opens a charming window into those historic events.

Mary Leydecker’s version appears here, for the first time ever; it’s followed by PDFs of the quite opulent Journal spread (with lots and lots of photos ... a generous use of space that we simply don’t see in newspapers any more).

John also shared some additional photos that you’ll find below, all published for the first time.

Enjoy!

********

BEAUTIFUL, MAN!
By Mary Leydecker

The little jazz musician peered over the grand piano through a haze of smoke. He was dressed in an old sweater, jeans and tennis shoes. His mustache and sideburns almost covered the part of his face not hidden by immense dark glasses. Nearby a bass player leaned on his instrument, and a drummer grinned as there was a pause in the rehearsal.

However, these three were not in their native habitat of nightclubs or recording studios, but in a large wood-paneled music room of a suburban Episcopal church; sharing the room with them were rows and rows of bright-faced children, who followed intently the instructions of their choir director, a young man in a sweat shirt with a whistle hanging from his neck.

This scene was repeated many times this year, as this group of people of many backgrounds gathered to prepare a “new setting for the Holy Communion.” The product of their labors has been recorded and is now a nationwide success under the label Vince Guaraldi at Grace Cathedral.

The story of how this unusual musical undertaking came into being goes back many months. As Grace Cathedral in San Francisco was nearing completion of its building program, a committee was appointed to mark the occasion with a series of special events. The Rev. Charles Gompertz, a young priest who was at that time curate of a suburban parish, was one of the members. When another committee member suggested a “holy hootenanny” for the young people of the diocese, Father Gompertz presented a different idea.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The magic — and music — of carriage returns

Life is full of charming surprises.

The Los Angeles Times runs an annual compilation of overlooked films that remained “Under the Radar” during the previous 12 months. Eight critics selected five titles each this year: Some lists are all over the genre map, while others — such as that from animation historian Charles Solomon — are devoted entirely to a given specialty.

The overarching principle is apt: As a film critic myself, I’m far more aware of indie and art house releases than most folks ... but more than half of these 40 titles were new to me. And quite a few piqued my interest.

One did so immediately: California Typewriter, a documentary by director Doug Nichol, which critic Gary Goldstein insists was “egregiously denied a place on this season’s documentary Oscar shortlist.” I read the article the day it was published — Thursday, December 28 — and immediately checked our streaming options. Lo and behold, its available via Amazon Video (and iTunes), and we watched it that very evening.

Isn’t the modern world amazing? In times past, you’d never even find out about most documentaries, let alone have any opportunity to view them. And now they’re just a few clicks away.

Anyway...

Nichol’s film is indeed delightful. The narrative is split between two topics: the Berkeley, California, store that gives the film its title, which has provided service and sales for all makes and models of typewriters, fax machines, calculators and the like since 1949, and which has been run since 1981 by Herbert L. Permillion III; and affectionate — and often droll — visits with typewriter collectors and purists such as musician John Mayer, playwright Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize-winning author/historian David McCullough, and artist/sculptor Jeremy Mayer.

Watching Tom Hanks dither over his massive collection, while trying to decide upon just one “desert island typewriter,” is a hoot and a half.

It also pays to be one of Hanks’ good friends. When somebody expresses genuine affection for one of the humble, old-school machines, Hanks makes it a gift. With the proviso that the recipient must use it, for old-school correspondence.

These individuals also eulogize the “experience” of their beloved typewriters, insisting that they’re essential to the artistic process, in a way that computers, laptops, tablets — and so forth — cannot match. (Except for Jeremy Mayer, the outlier, who cannibalizes typewriters in order to re-purpose the components into assemblages that range from life-size small birds to life-size human figures. With results that demand to be seen.)

You’re undoubtedly wondering what this brief film review is doing in a blog devoted to Vince Guaraldi.

Anyway...

So there we were, Constant Companion and I, thoroughly enjoying this film and its collection of colorful on-camera subjects, along with Nichol’s savvy use of background music: Cy Coleman’s cover of “Playboy’s Theme,” Erik Satie’s “Trois Gymnopedies,” Bill Evans’ iconic reading of “Stolen Moments,” and even a selection by the Boston Typewriter Orchestra (for real).

And, suddenly — during one of the Berkeley visits to Herb’s store — we heard the gentle and unmistakable melody of Guaraldi’s “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” from his Warner Bros. album Oh, Good Grief!

Nor was that all. Somewhat later, as Herb and his adult daughters — Carmen and Candace — decorated their store for the holidays, Nichol inserted Guaraldi’s instrumental version of “Christmas Time Is Here,” from his Charlie Brown Christmas score.

And that’s why you’re reading these words.

So: Aside from quality filmmaking chops, Nichol obviously has excellent taste in music.

I highly recommend this little film ... and not merely for the opportunity to hear some well-placed Guaraldi excerpts. The film is a thoroughly engaging — and informative — eulogy for a technological workhorse whose day, alas, has come and gone. Likely for good. (But not entirely. Thankfully.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Swinging holiday Juice

Way back in the day — seven years before A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted — Henry Mancini’s groundbreaking jazz soundtrack album for the TV series Peter Gunn was quite the rage. It spent well over a year on Billboard’s Top LPs chart, won two Grammy Awards — Album of the Year, and Best Arrangement — and prompted Mancini to release a sequel, More Music from Peter Gunn, later that same year. Both LPs were so popular that they spawned a unique cottage industry, when other jazz stars — most notably Shelly Manne, Ted Nash, Joe Wilder, Ray Ellis and Pete Candoli — covered the entire album.

Flash forward half a century, and Guaraldi’s equally iconic 1965 soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas has garnered the same attention. It actually started with Cyrus Chestnut’s 2000 album of the same title, and more recently has included releases by the Eric Byrd Trio (2009) and The Ornaments (2011). Jazz pianists David Benoit and Jim Martinez also have covered the entire album over time, although not all at once, each taking several releases to do so.

Additional examples can be found in this earlier blog post.

To this group we now can add jazz pianist Jose “Juicy” Gonzales, who has presented Charlie Brown Christmas concerts for several years now, in his home town of Seattle, Washington.

Linus and Juicy: A Holiday Album covers almost all of Guaraldi’s score — “What Child Is This”/“Greensleeves” was left behind — along with some apt extras. The versatile Gonzales is ably supported by bassist Michael Marcus and drummer Matt Jorgensen, both of whom get plenty of chances to demonstrate their own chops. The album opens with a ferocious double-time reading of “White Christmas” that positively roars, and offers lively keyboard and bass solos: just a taste of further delights to come.

Given how many hundreds (thousands?) of soloists, combos and bands have covered “Linus and Lucy,” this album’s highlight may well be “Linus and Juicy,” Gonzales’ playful and marvelously unique arrangement of that tune: a wild re-interpretation also highlighted by another of Marcus’ sleek bass solos. The trio’s handling of “Skating” is buoyant and lyrical; “Christmas Is Coming” is aggressively peppy, with a terrific swing bridge dominated by Marcus’ walking bass.

Jorgensen sets an infectious march tempo for “Little Drummer Boy,” adding tasty percussion touches behind Gonzales’ lyrical keyboard noodling; “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is suitably thoughtful and majestic. Gonzales opens “O Tannenbaum” with gentle solo piano, in a respectful echo of Guaraldi’s arrangement, and then “expands” the tune with some delectable swing that invites a tasty bass solo, which segues to lively byplay between keyboard and drums.

A lengthy, 7-minute arrangement of “Christmas Time Is Here” is properly gentle, offering plenty of lyrical improv by both Gonzales and Marcus. Unexpectedly droll and up-tempo readings of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Silent Night” deliver more sizzle than we generally expect from these two reverential carols.

Gonzales adds enthusiastic but clearly untrained vocals to “The First Noel” and “The Christmas Song,” which may raise eyebrows; although his delivery is heartfelt, Tony Bennett and Harry Connick Jr. have nothing to worry about. But that’s a minor quibble, given the finger-snapping “juice” that characterizes the rest of the album. It’s a must for Guaraldi fans, and can be ordered here.

********

BITS AND BOBS

December always unleashes a string of tributes to Guaraldi and A Charlie Brown Christmas, most of which are amateur noodlings from individuals who do little or no research, and add nothing of merit to the discussion. But this year is far better than usual, starting with Ethan Iverson’s scholarly piece in no less than The New Yorker.

Other items of interest:

• Michael G. Williams’ detailed history of Guaraldi, in Tribune

• Charles Mudede’s excellent feature in The Stranger

• A short but delightful new CBC Radio interview with drummer Jerry Granelli

• Matt Draper’s nicely assembled short YouTube documentary about Guaraldi


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Jolly Guaraldi Holiday 2017

The holiday season is upon us, and it's once again time to investigate the many Guaraldi-themed concerts taking place, most of which (of course!) are tied in to his music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I traced the history and growth of this delightful tradition back in 2012, with a modest schedule that now seems quaint. This new post will serve as a clearinghouse for any and all late 2017 concerts that come to my attention. As always, I'll add to this schedule as new information becomes available, so you'll want to check back frequently.




Our Canadian neighbors once again can enjoy the return of the season's most historic booking. Drummer Jerry Granelli, who worked as a member of Guaraldi's trio in the 1960s, will headline Tales of A Charlie Brown Christmas with his own trio: Simon Fisk (bass) and Chris Gestrin (piano). You'll definitely want to check out this excellent recent interview with Granelli. He began this annual celebration with a few shows in 2013, and the results were quite popular (no surprise there). Two shows have been booked thus far: Saturday, December 2, at Central United Church in Calgary, Alberta; Details; and Sunday, December 10, at the Spatz Theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Details.



Pianist David Benoit has taken the year off in terms of his annual Charlie Brown Christmas show, instead joining forces with saxman Dave Koz for the latter's 20th Anniversary Christmas Tour (coinciding with the release of Koz's new CD, 20th Anniversary Christmas). Koz and Benoit will be joined by trumpeter Rick Braun, acoustic guitarist Peter White, and vocalist Selina Albright. Koz's new album includes "Christmas Time Is Here," and with Benoit on board, you can count on at least a few more Guaraldi numbers. The tour kicks off November 24 in Atlanta, Georgia, with stops in Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and several other states, before concluding December 23 in Cerritos, California. Check Benoit's web site for additional information.


Pianist Eric Mintel and his quartet — Nelson Hill, sax and flute; Jack Hegyi, bass; and Dave Mohn, drums — always have a busy schedule, and this year is no different. They're presenting a Charlie Brown Christmas Special November 30 at the Buttonwood Tree, in Middletown, Connecticut (details here); and another one December 21 at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (details here). The band has numerous gigs in between, as you can see by checking Mintel's web site; unfortunately, he doesn't specify which are Charlie Brown Christmas shows. You'll have to investigate dates in your area.

The Heather Pierson Trio — Pierson on piano; Shawn Nadeau on bass; Craig Bryan on drums — has scheduled a tour of (thus far) six shows devoted to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Most of the shows are in Maine: They kick off December 1 in Auburn, and conclude December 22 in Bangor; with a stop in between in New Hampshire. Check her website for details.


The Cartoon Christmas Trio - Jeff Knoettner, piano; Rob Swanson, bass; Jimmy Coleman, drums - doesn't concentrate solely on music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; they also pepper their performances with tunes from other animated holiday shows, such as Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (Their album is a kick; give it a listen.) They have several shows scheduled thus far, starting November 22 in Wilmington, Delaware; and concluding December 21, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Check their website for details.

The Eric Byrd Trio — Byrd, piano and vocals; Bhagwan Khalsa, acoustic bass; Alphonso Young Jr., drums and percussion — also has made a cottage industry of Guaraldi's Christmas music, going so far as to cover most of the album in a 2009 release. Byrd's combo has taken its Charlie Brown Christmas Show on the road during previous years, but this year's tour is limited to seven shows in Washington, D.C., and Maryland, from November 26 through December 21. Check his website for details.

The Ornaments, a jazz trio based in Nashville, Tennessee, is celebrating the 12th anniversary of its Charlie Brown Christmas shows. The combo — Jen Gunderman, piano; James Haggerty, bass; and Martin Lynds, drums — is doing a week's worth of gigs at The Family Wash in East Nashville, with shows each evening from Monday, December 11, through Friday, December 22. An additional kids' show takes place Saturday, December 16, at the Belcourt Theater. Details. (And if you haven't yet picked up the group's spiffy CD cover of Guaraldi's entire Charlie Brown Christmas album, what are you waiting for?)

The San Francisco Symphony once again is getting into the act, with seven performances of A Charlie Brown Christmas — Live between December 21 and 24 at Davies Symphony Hall, in do
wntown San Francisco, California. The concerts will feature the Symphony and Symphony Chorus, along with dancers, narration and animated backdrops. Check their website for details.


Keyboardist David Ellington and his "Peanut Gallery" are holding court during December, with five Charlie Brown Christmas dates — December 10, 17, 21, 22 and 23 — at Venkman's in Atlanta, Georgia. This appears to be a dinner theater-type arrangement; check the venue for details.




Northern California jazz pianist Jim Martinez and his combo are taking The Jazz Music from A Charlie Brown Christmas on the road, starting December 1 in Bakersfield, California; additional California dates are in Lincoln (December 5) and Newark (December 8). He then has five gigs in Florida (December 12-17). Visit his website for additional details. (And do check out his recent album tribute to Guaraldi, Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts!)

Other groups also have gotten into the act: 

• Chris White's Jazz Trio performs Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; Wednesday, November 22, at the Winter's Jazz Club, Chicago, Illinois. Details.


• The Music of Vince Guaraldi and Peanuts, with the Donovan Johnson Band (Johnson, piano; Ed Archibald, sax and flute; George Laughery, guitar; Steve Gomez, bass; Doug Montera, drums; and Kent Barnes, percussion); Sunday, November 26, at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Details.

• The Jeffrey Butzer Trio (Butzer, drums; T.T. Mahoney, piano; Mike Beshera, bass) performs Charlie Brown's Christmas; Saturday, December 2, at the Revelry Room, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Details

Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker, performed by Ron LeGault Jazz — LeGault, piano; Andrew Vogt, sax; Curtis Fox, trombone; Dave Weinand, bass; and Andreas Schmid, drums — will feature music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Nutcracker Ballet; Saturday, December 2, at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa's T-Zero Lounge, Boulder, Colorado. Details.

• Chris White's Jazz Trio performs Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas; Tuesday, December 5, at the Winter's Jazz Club, Chicago, Illinois. Details.

• The Jeffrey Butzer Trio (Butzer, drums; T.T. Mahoney, piano; Mike Beshera, bass) performs Charlie Brown's Christmas; Wednesday, December 6, at Madlife Stage & Studios, Woodstock, Georgia. Details

• A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi, with the Michelle Schumann Trio (Schumann, piano; Utah Hamrick, bass; and David Sierra, drums); Thursday, December 7, at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor's Baugh Performance Hall, Belton, Texas. Details.

• The Rick Hirsch 3 (Hirsch, sax; Kirk Reese, piano; Bob Hart, bass) performs Charlie Brown Christmas Jazz; Friday, December 8, at the State Theater, State College, Pennsylvania. Details.

The Jody Nardone Trio — Nardone, piano and vocals; Jerry Navarro, bass; and Chris Brown, drums — will play the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and other holiday favorites; Friday, December 8, at Rudy's Jazz Room in Nashville, Tennesee. Details.

The Ed Croft Trio (Croft, bass; Jake Malone-Brancato, piano; and Candace Simone Thomas, drums) will present the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Saturday, December 9, at the PAUSA Art House in Buffalo, New York. Details.

• Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker, performed by Ron LeGault Jazz — LeGault, piano; Andrew Vogt, sax; Curtis Fox, trombone; Dave Weinand, bass; and Andreas Schmid, drums — will feature music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Nutcracker Ballet; Saturday, December 9, at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa's T-Zero Lounge, Boulder, Colorado. Details.

• The Jody Nardone Trio — Nardone, piano and vocals; Jerry Navarro, bass; and Chris Brown, drums — will play the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and other holiday favorites; Saturday, December 9, at Rudy's Jazz Room in Nashville, Tennesee. Details.

The Aidan Scrimgeour Trio (Scrimgeour, piano; Matt Estabrook, upright bass; and Jackson Fulk-Logon, drums) will present A Charlie Brown Jazz Piano Christmas; Saturday, December 9, at Studio FOLI, Salem, Massachusetts. Details.


• A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Music of Vince Guaraldi, with the Michelle Schumann Trio (Schumann, piano; Utah Hamrick, bass; and David Sierra, drums); Saturday, December 9, at the Stateside Theater in Austin, Texas. Details.

• A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the Jose Gonzales Trio (Gonzales, piano; Michael Marcus, bass; and Matt Jorgensen, drums); Sunday, December 10 -- both an afternoon family matinee and an evening performance -- at the Cornish Playhouse in Seattle, Washington. Details.

• The Malcolm Granger Trio (Granger, piano; Rich Hill, bass; Michael Dunford, drums) performs A Charlie Brown Christmas; Sunday, December 10, at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, Massachusetts. Details.

• Chris White's Jazz Trio performs Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas; Sunday, December 10, at the Lincoln Park Zoo's Cafe Brauer, Chicago, Illinois. Details.

• The Aidan Scrimgeour Trio (Scrimgeour, piano; Matt Estabrook, upright bass; and Jackson Fulk-Logon, drums) will present A Charlie Brown Jazz Piano Christmas; Monday, December 11, at Tufts University's Distler Performance Hall, Medford, Massachusetts. Details.

• The Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band, with guest vocalist Cathy Rocco, presents A Charlie Brown Christmas; Monday, December 11, at the Gateway Playhouse, Somers Point, New Jersey. Details.

The Jerrod Cattey Trio (Cattey, drums; Darren Litzie, keyboards; and Kevin Smith, bass) will perform the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Tuesday, December 12, at Three Sheets, New Haven, Connecticut. Details.

The Doc Watson Trio (Watson, piano; Brandon Rivas, bass; and Graeme Francis, drums) will present music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Wednesday, December 13, at the club Jazz Texas, San Antonio, Texas. Details.

The Music Carolina Jazz Trio (Federico Pivetta, piano; Matt Kendrick, bass; and John Wilson, drums) will present beloved selections from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Wednesday, December 13, at Salem College's Shirley Recital Hall, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Details.

Guitar for Guaraldi, featuring the Dave Brandwein Trio, will transpose the classic piano stylings of A Charlie Brown Christmas for a guitar lead; Thursday, December 14, at the Heartland Café, Chicago, Illinois. Details.

• Chris White's Jazz Trio performs Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 14, at the Winter's Jazz Club, Chicago, Illinois. Details.


• The Jeffrey Butzer Trio (Butzer, drums; T.T. Mahoney, piano; Mike Beshera, bass) performs Charlie Brown's Christmas; Thursday, December 14, at Saturn, Birmingham, Alabama. Details

• Pianist Adam Shulman plays Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; two shows daily Thursday through Sunday, December 14-17, at the SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco, California. Details.

• The Jeffrey Butzer Trio (Butzer, drums; T.T. Mahoney, piano; Mike Beshera, bass) performs Charlie Brown's Christmas; Friday, December 15, at The Earl, in Atlanta, Georgia. Details.

• Guitar for Guaraldi, featuring the Dave Brandwein Trio, will transpose the classic piano stylings of A Charlie Brown Christmas for a guitar lead; Friday, December 15, at The Radler (a German beer hall), Chicago, Illinois. Details.

• Chris White's Jazz Trio performs A Peanuts Christmas; Friday, December 15, at the Gorton Community Center, Lake Forest, Illinois. Details.

• Jazz guitarist Chris Von Staats and his band will perform music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Friday, December 15, at The Skinny Pancake, Hanover, New Hampshire. Details.

A Charlie Brown Christmas with the Karl Stabnau Quartet (Stabnau, woodwinds; Jacob Dupre, piano; Danny Ziemann, bass; and Eric Metzgar, drums); Saturday, December 16, at Jazz Central, in Syracuse, New York. Details.

• Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker, performed by Ron LeGault Jazz — LeGault, piano; Andrew Vogt, sax; Curtis Fox, trombone; Dave Weinand, bass; and Andreas Schmid, drums — will feature music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Nutcracker Ballet; Saturday, December 16, at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa's T-Zero Lounge, Boulder, Colorado. Details.

• The Jeffrey Butzer Trio (Butzer, drums; T.T. Mahoney, piano; Mike Beshera, bass) performs Charlie Brown's Christmas; Saturday, December 16, at The Earl, in Atlanta, Georgia. Details.


• The Alex Murphy Trio — Murphy, piano; Mary Halm, bass; and Jeremy Benshish, drums and cymbals — will perform music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Saturday, December 16, at the Vero Voce School of Music, St. Charles, Illinois. Details.

• A Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas, with the Joe Cool Trio (Chris Spies, piano; Chris Severin, bass; and John Milham, drums); Saturday, December 16, at the Mobile Saenger Theatre in Mobile, Alabama. Details.

• A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the Jose Gonzales Trio (Gonzales, piano; Michael Marcus, bass; and Matt Jorgensen, drums); Saturday, December 16 at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater, Snohomish, Washington. Details.

• Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker, performed by Ron LeGault Jazz — LeGault, piano; Andrew Vogt, sax; Curtis Fox, trombone; Dave Weinand, bass; and Andreas Schmid, drums — will feature music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Nutcracker Ballet; Sunday, December 17, at Rory's Tavern, Denver, Colorado. Details.

• One for our friends across the pond! The Jason Frederick Cinematic Trio (Frederick, piano; Scott Wheeler, double bass; and Dan Mullins, drums) will present music from A Charlie Brown Christmas along with other Guaraldi hits, plus a selection of Guaraldi-esque Christmas tunes; Sunday, December 17, at the Colchester Arts Centre, Essex, England. Details.

• Guitar for Guaraldi, featuring the Dave Brandwein Trio, will transpose the classic piano stylings of A Charlie Brown Christmas for a guitar lead; Sunday, December 17, at The Café Mustache, Chicago, Illinois. Details.

The Duncan Cooper Trio — Cooper, piano; John Beach, bass; and James Mackenzie, drums — will perform the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Sunday, December 17, at St. Andrew's Church, Picton, Ontario. Details.

• A Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas, with the Joe Cool Trio (Chris Spies, piano; Chris Severin, bass; and John Milham, drums); Sunday, December 17, at the Laurel Little Theater in Laurel, Mississippi. Details.

• The Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward Big Band, with guest vocalist Cathy Rocco, presents A Charlie Brown Christmas; Monday, December 18, at the Gateway Playhouse, Somers Point, New Jersey. Details.

Bassist Andrew Randazzo leads a 15-piece big band, dubbed The R4nd4zzo Bigb4nd, in a tribute to the music of Vince Guaraldi, with particular emphasis on the score to A Charlie Brown Christmas; Monday, December 18, at The Vagabond, Richmond, Virginia. Details.

• The "Piano Starts Here" series will present The Music of A Charlie Brown Christmas, featuring keyboardists Dawn Clement, Tim Kennedy and Chris McCarthy; Monday, December 18, at The Royal Room, Seattle, Washington. Details.

• The "Piano Starts Here" series will present The Music of A Charlie Brown Christmas, featuring keyboardists Ryan BurnsEven CaptainAlex Guilbert and Daniel Salka; Monday, December 18, at The Royal Room, Seattle, Washington. Details.

The Tim Stine Quartet (Stine, guitar; Nick Mazzarella, reeds; Matt Ulery, double bass; and Quin Kirchner, traps) will perform music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Tuesday, December 19, at The California Clipper, Chicago, Illinois. Details.

The Pete Peterson Trio (Peterson, piano; Danny Kiely, bass; and Bruce Morrow, drums) will take patrons through the Charlie Brown Christmas album, followed by a second set of holiday standards; Wednesday, December 20, at Jimmy Can't Dance (that's a club), Louisville, Kentucky. Details.

The Peter Shea Trio (Shea, piano and vocals; Clark Johnson, bass; and Terry Clarke, drums; along with special guest James Bryan, guitar) will be featured in The Music of A Charlie Brown Christmas; Wednesday, December 20, at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Details.

Jazz pianist Peter Roberts headlines A Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 21, at the jazz club Noce, Des Moines, Iowa. Details.

The Yuletide Saints Jazz Trio — James Raymond, keyboards; Andrew Ford, bass; and Steve DiStanislao, drums — will perform the score from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 21, at Coffee Gallery Backstage, Altadena, California. Details.

• The Jerrod Cattey Trio (Cattey, drums; Darren Litzie, keyboards; and Kevin Smith, bass) will perform the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 21, at Sasso's Coal-Fired Pizza, Torrington, Connecticut. Details.

• The third annual Snow Globe Show will kick off with a performance of the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, by the Mack Grout Trio (Grout, piano; Devin Lowe, bass; and Adam Kessler, drums); Thursday, December 21, at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center, Seattle, Washington. Details.

The Adam Bowman Trio (Bowman, drums; Thomas Hammerton, piano; and Tyler Wagler, bass) will present A Very Charlie Brown Concert; Thursday, December 21, at the Guelph Youth Music Centre, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Details.

• The Pete Peterson Trio (Peterson, piano; Danny Kiely, bass; and Bruce Morrow, drums) will take patrons through the Charlie Brown Christmas album, followed by a second set of holiday standards; Thursday, December 21, at Jimmy Can't Dance (that's a club), Louisville, Kentucky. Details.

The Adam Price Group (Price, sax, flute and clarinet; Mike Masciangelo, piano; and Matt Campbell, bass) will present the full Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack; Friday, December 22, at The Bridge Inn, Oley, Pennsylvania. Details.

The Jeremy Baum Trio (Baum, keyboards; Brandon Morrison, acoustic bass; and Manuel Quintana, drums) will present A Charlie Brown Christmas Tribute; Saturday, December 23, at The Falcon, Marlboro, New York. Details.

• Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker, performed by Ron LeGault Jazz — LeGault, piano; Andrew Vogt, sax; Curtis Fox, trombone; Dave Weinand, bass; and Andreas Schmid, drums — will feature music from A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Nutcracker Ballet; Saturday, December 23, at the St. Julien Hotel & Spa's T-Zero Lounge, Boulder, Colorado. Details.

• Jazz pianist Peter Roberts headlines A Charlie Brown Christmas; Saturday, December 23, at the jazz club Noce, Des Moines, Iowa. Details.

• Touring and session trumpeter Mike Lewis will present the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday, December 24, at Honolulu's Blue Note Hawaii. Details.

• Touring and session trumpeter Mike Lewis will present the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Monday, December 25, at Honolulu's Blue Note Hawaii. Details.

The Charlie Brown Trio (Andrew Boudreau, piano; John MacLeod, bass; and Will Fisher, drums) will present their sixth annual performance of music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Wednesday, December 27, at Roadside Willie's Smokehouse & Bar, Bible Hill (Truro), Nova Scotia. Details.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Once more unto the breach, dear friends...

In what has become an annual tradition, we have yet another re-release of A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Craft Recordings, the catalog division of Concord Music, has produced a high-end vinyl reissue that will hit retail outlets on November 17. The LP was pressed onto 180-gram vinyl, and housed in an old-school style, tip-on jacket, featuring the artwork from the original 1965 LP. Lacquers for the album were cut by George Horn and Anne-Marie Suenram at Fantasy Studios, while the vinyl was pressed at Quality Record Pressings.

This have given Concord a good excuse for some proud boasting, and I'll let them quote some fun statistics:

A Charlie Brown Christmas, certified 4X Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2016, is one of the best-selling jazz albums in history, second only to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. It's no surprise: Guaraldi's engaging score to the synonymous holiday television special has introduced generations of children and their parents to the joys of jazz, with tracks such as the instantly recognizable "Linus and Lucy," and the yuletide favorite "Christmas Time Is Here." The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007, and the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry five years later, and continues to be a perennial favorite, thanks in part to annual airings of the TV special.

The price isn't too bad, either; pre-orders can be made at Amazon.

But wait; that's not all! Barnes & Noble has released a new picture-disc vinyl LP, which you can order here. (B&N did the same thing last year, albeit with a different image; that album has become quite difficult to find.)

Just in case you need another copy ... or two!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Vince Guaraldi Day (locally)

The opening line of a brief announcement published in Wednesday's Napa Valley Register couldn't help catching my eye:

Mill Valley Mayor Jessica Sloan has proclaimed Sunday, Sept. 24, as "Vince Guaraldi Day."

Seriously?

Indeed yes. And the official proclamation is pretty fancy:




It seems an oddly random choice of day. Guaraldi was born on July 17, and died on February 6. Near as I can determine, nothing of consequence ever happened to him on a September 24 (although Shelby Flint's vocal cover of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" did peak at No. 11 on Billboard's Top 40 Easy Listening Chart, on September 24, 1966).

So, I had to wonder ... what will take place, on Vince Guaraldi Day?

A speech by Mayor Sloan? A parade? A screening of the recent Toby Gleason/Andy Thomas documentary, The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi? All-day screenings of the many Peanuts TV specials he scored, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Boy Named Charlie Brown, for which he "may be most known"?

Apparently not.

Near as I can tell, the only event scheduled is a Guaraldi-themed concert by the Larry Vuckovich Quintet, taking place at 3 p.m. at Mill Valley's Throckmorton Theatre. (Ticket information is available here.)

Which makes it seem as though Mayor Sloan's proclamation mostly is a well-timed boost for Larry's concert. I guess it's great to have friends in high places!

And I look forward to ever-more-ambitious programs, when Mill Valley celebrates each Vince Guaraldi Day, in years to come...