The schedule gets busier every year ... and isn't that marvelous?
The holiday season returns anew, 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 2016 concerts that come to my attention. As always, I'll add to this schedule as new information becomes available, so do check back on occasion.
As has been the case for several years now, the most ambitious tour news comes from Concord recording artist David Benoit, who once again is taking his Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown on the road. He's touring this time with special guest Sara Gazarek. Their schedule kicks off November 26 in Brea, California, and concludes December 19 in Livermore, California, with stops along the way in Washington, Alaska, North Carolina and Arizona. We caught Benoit's performance in 2011 and 2015, and I can report that it's a great show. It's also tremendously sweet, since Benoit and his team work with a children's choir that is local to each stop. Check his website for details.
Benoit may be grabbing the lion's share of headlines in the States, but our Canadian neighbors will 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 from A Charlie Brown Christmas with his own trio. The tour kicks off November 26 in Calgary, and concludes December 10 in Victoria. Alas, they're still all Canadian venues; he has yet to bring this show to the States. Granelli began this annual celebration with a few shows in 2013, and the results were quite popular (no surprise there). He'll again be joined by Simon Fisk (bass) and Chris Gestrin (piano). Check his website for details.
Pianist Eric Mintel and his quartet — Nelson Hill, sax and flute; Jack Hegyi, electric bass; and Dave Mohn, drums — have a very busy schedule of 13 Charlie Brown Christmas & More concerts booked, starting November 27 in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and concluding December 21 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania; with stops along the way in New Jersey and New Hampshire. Check his website for details.
I must — of course! — mention my good buddy Bill Carter. Followers of this blog know that Guaraldi's Grace Cathedral Jazz Mass was revived in September 2015 at Carter's First Presbyterian Church of Clark's Summit, Pennsylvania. Well, Carter has a few more choice events up his sleeve. He and his Presbybop Christmas Eve Band have a mini-tour scheduled, starting December 1 in Concord, New Hampshire, with additional dates in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. The tour will conclude with Presbybop's annual Jazz Christmas Eve concert at Carter's First Presbyterian Church. Details.
The Heather Pierson Trio — Pierson on piano; Davy Sturtevant on cornet, dobro, fiddle and mandolin; and Shawn Nadeau on bass — has scheduled a mini-tour of (thus far) three shows devoted to A Charlie Brown Christmas. They kick off December 2 in Portland, Maine, and conclude December 15 in Bridgton, Maine, with a stop in between in New Hampshire. Check her website for details.
The Cartoon Christmas Trio 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 December 1 in Wilmington, Delaware; and concluding December 18, also in Wilmington, Delaware; with other shows in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 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 the past several years, but — as was the case in 2015 — this year seems to be limiting activities to shows in Maryland, from December 11-18. Check his website for details.
The Ornaments, a jazz trio based in Nashville, Tennessee, is celebrating the 11th 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 Thursday, December 15, through Friday, December 23. 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 downtown 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 four dates — December 7, 14, 19 and 21 — 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 2 in Newark, California; and concluding December 16, in Fair Oaks, California. 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:
• A Charlie Brown Christmas, presented by the Tennessee Jazz & Blues Society, as part of its "Great Albums" series, performed by the Jody Nardone Trio (Nardone, piano; Jerry Navarro, bass; and Chris Brown, drums); two shows Saturday, December 3, at the Nashville Jazz Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee. Details.
• The Music of Vince Guaraldi and Peanuts, with the Donovan Johnson Band (Johnson, piano; Ed Archibald, sax and flute; Steve Gomez, bass; Michael DeLuca, drums; and Michael Pujado, percussion); Saturday, December 3, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. 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 10, at the Stateside Theater in Austin, Texas. Details.
• A Tribute to A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the Karl Stabnau Combo (Stabnau, sax and woodwinds; Jacob Dupre, piano; Mike Forfia, bass; and Eric Metzgar, drums); Saturday, December 10, at the Little Theater in Rochester, New York. Details.
• Jeffrey Butzer & T.T. Mahoney Perform Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; Sunday, December 11, at Saturn in Birmingham, Alabama. Details.
• A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the Jose Gonzales Trio (Gonzales, piano; Michael Marcus, bass; and Matt Jorgensen, drums); Sunday, December 11 -- both an afternoon family matinee and an evening performance -- at the Cornish Playhouse in Seattle, Washington. Details.
• A Charlie Brown Christmas, performed by the Music Carolina Trio — Matt Kendrick, bass; Frederico Pivetta, piano; and John Wilson, drums — and the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus; Wednesday, December 14, at the Salem College Shirley Recital Hall, North Carolina. Details.
• A Tribute to A Charlie Brown Christmas, with the Karl Stabnau Combo (Stabnau, sax and woodwinds; Jacob Dupre, piano; Danny Ziemann, bass; and Eric Metzgar, drums); Wednesday, December 14, at Jazz Central in Syracuse, New York. Details.
• The Adam Shulman Trio — Shulman, piano; John Wiitala, bass; and James Gallagher, drums — plays Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 15, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, California. Details.
• Chris White's Jazz Trio Tribute to Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 15, at Cafe Brauer, Chicago, Illinois. Details.
• Jeffrey Butzer & T.T. Mahoney Perform Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; Friday, December 16, at The Earl, in Atlanta, Georgia. Details.
• Pianist and composer Robert Scott will present A Tribute to Vince Guaraldi: The Sound of Charlie Brown (accompanied by Bob Scott on drums); Friday, December 16, at the Lula Lounge in Toronto, Canada. Details. (Note: It's a dinner jazz show.)
• Jeffrey Butzer & T.T. Mahoney Perform Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; Saturday, December 17, at The Earl, in Atlanta, Georgia. Details.
• A Charlie Brown Jazz Christmas, with the Joe Cool Trio (Chris Spies, piano; Chris Severin, bass; and John Milham, drums); Saturday, December 17, 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); Sunday, December 18 at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Langley, Washington. Details.
• The Adam Shulman Trio — Shulman, piano; John Wiitala, bass; and James Gallagher, drums — plays Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; Sunday, December 18, in the Miner Auditorium at the SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco, California. Details.
• Here's a rare opportunity to hear Guaraldi's holiday music performed by a traditional big band: The 16-piece Ed Vezinho/Jim Ward ensemble, with guest vocalist Cathy Rocco, will present The Charlie Brown Christmas on Monday, December 19, at the Greate Bay Country Club in Somers Point, New Jersey. Details.
• The Commercialists — Anthony Deutsch, piano; Clay Schaub, bass; and Patrick Morrow, drums — will play the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Tuesday and Wednesday, December 20-21, at The Jazz Estate, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Details.
• The Pete Peterson Trio — Peterson, keyboards; Danny Kiely, bass; and Bruce Morrow, drums — will perform music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, along with other seasonal classic; Tuesday through Thursday, December 20-22, at the dinner theater venue Lola at Butchertown Grocery, Louisville, Kentucky. Details.
• The Alex Murphy Trio — Murphy, piano; Mary Halm, bass; and Jeremy Benshish, drums and cymbals — will perform music from A Charlie Brown Christmas; Thursday, December 22, at the Vero Voce School of Music, St. Charles, Illinois. Details.