Friday, February 23, 2024

Plenty of Respect: 2024 update

Three years have passed since I last addressed the topic of other jazz artists doing covers of Guaraldi compositions, back in this post.

To recap, the goal is to compile an ever-expanding list of jazz artists who've recorded a) original tribute compositions honoring Guaraldi; and b) covers of Guaraldi compositions other than "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and the Charlie Brown Christmas quartet — "Linus and Lucy," "My Little Drum," "Christmas Is Coming" and "Christmas Time Is Here" — because they've long been popular targets.

(As it happens, I didn't find any new original tribute compositions this time.)

Aside from keeping up with albums released since March 2021, I've also been on the prowl for older works. Spotify, iTunes and discogs have been helpful to a degree, but I really needed a database that could do more precise searches. I recently found a really cool one: The Mechanical Licensing Collective's Musical Works Database, which can be accessed here. The advantage is the ability to search by composition and composer: quite useful with respect to some of Guaraldi's more generic titles. (As the most obvious examples, several people have written songs called "Joe Cool," "Peppermint Patty" and "Pebble Beach.")

Thanks to this database, I discovered — as just one example — that former Guaraldi sideman Eddie Duran covered "Ginza" (aka "Ginza Samba") on his 1979 album of the same title.

The following list represents the new entries which have been added to the master list in the aforementioned March 2021 post. "Macedonia" and the title theme to It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown appear for the first time.

I'm intrigued by the fact that "Great Pumpkin Waltz" seems so popular. Might it blossom into a "breakout cover" that'll become another Guaraldi standard? Time will tell!

• Air Music

Ron LeGault Quintet, Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker

• Charlie Brown Theme

Nate Hance Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas NHanced
Ron LeGault Quintet, Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker
Isaiah J. Thompson Septet, A Guaraldi Holiday
Oliver Mewes Trio, Trio

• Ginza Samba

William Beatty, The Path of Green Stones
Eddie Duran, Ginza
Dick Fregulia Trio, Be There Now!
Claudio Giambruno, Overseas
Giuliano Perin’s Good Vibes Quartet, Sweet Lines

Great Pumpkin Waltz

Joshua Bowlus, Sleigh Ride
C. Holmes Trio, Christmas & You
Shai Jaschek, First Fall
Luke Carlos O’Reilly, The Perfect Christmas
Mich Shirey Trio, Guitar for Guaraldi
Isaiah J. Thompson Septet, A Guaraldi Holiday

Happiness Theme

Ron LeGault Quintet, Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker
Harry Skoler, Conversations in the Language of Jazz

Heartburn Waltz
Isaiah J. Thompson Septet, A Guaraldi Holiday

It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown

Mark Kross Trio, Cacciatore

• Little Birdie

Clara Plestis (single)
Isaiah J. Thompson Septet, A Guaraldi Holiday


Guido Pistocchi Quintet, Spring Time

Oh, Good Grief

Nate Hance Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas NHanced

Pebble Beach

Mason Embry Trio, A Song for You
Ron LeGault Quintet, Charlie Brown Goes to The Nutcracker
Roby Perissin and the Latin Jazz Ensemble, Tribute to Latin Jazz

Peppermint Patty

Nate Hance, A Charlie Brown Christmas NHanced
Oliver Mewes Trio, Trio


Nate Hance Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas NHanced

Thanksgiving Theme

Isaiah J. Thompson Septet, A Guaraldi Holiday 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Summer comes early this year!

Big news, gang.

Lee Mendelson Film Productions has made good on its promise to deliver another of Vince Guaraldi's iconic Peanuts soundtracks.

Their announcement went live earlier today:

Available for the first time ever!
Vince Guaraldi’s complete soundtrack for 1969's It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown
Limited release in celebration of the special's 55th anniversary

Available exclusively on "Camp Green" Vinyl (12-inch, 45 RPM) 
for Record Store Day, April 20th

    “This entire score is can’t-be-played-often-enough ear candy. It’s as fresh and vibrant today — and as swinging — as when it was laid down 55 years ago: yet another captivating display of Guaraldi’s compositional genius and keyboard wizardry.
    Summer never sounded so sweet.”
— From the liner notes by Derrick Bang, Author, Vince Guaraldi at the Piano

Lee Mendelson Film Productions (LMFP) is thrilled to announce the release of Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack to It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown, the sixth animated Peanuts special, from writer/creator Charles Schulz, director Bill Melendez and producers Melendez and Lee Mendelson. The special originally aired on CBS-TV on September 27, 1969, and currently can be streamed on Apple TV+.
The album includes the original recordings that comprise the special's song cues, plus six bonus and alternative tracks that never have been released or heard before.

Track list:


Bonus content:

(Three sample tracks can be heard here.)
Guaraldi lovingly created the soundtrack for the summer camp adventure that finds Charlie Brown and his gang facing off against the girls’ camp members, led by Peppermint Patty. The album's large jazz combo also delivers the best rendition of Guaraldi's classic tune, “Love Will Come (Nova Bossa),” and features his first use of additional percussion supplied by Victor Feldman.
The recording features Guaraldi (piano), Monty Budwig (double bass), Jack Sperling (drums), Conti and Pete Candoli (trumpet), Frank Rosolino (trombone), Feldman (percussion), Herb Ellis (guitar), William Hood and Peter Christlieb (woodwinds), with John Scott Trotter as orchestra leader. The album was produced by Sean and Jason Mendelson, sons of Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson, and restored and re-mastered by Vinson Hudson.
The album will be available exclusively at participating retail outlets starting April 20, 2024, as part of Record Store Day. Store locations and additional information is available at

The album's Record Store Day page is here.
The album includes liner notes and a track-by-track analysis by Derrick Bang and Sean Mendelson. The package also boasts images from the special, and of the recently re-discovered original tape boxes (which led to this release).  
For an extended version of the press release and more information, click here


Pretty cool, eh?

To anticipate the obvious question, CD and digital releases will follow later this year, and will be announced at a future date. (Stay tuned!)

Some of the adjectives in the press release above are a bit breathless, but the enthusiasm is warranted. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, because it's absolutely Guaraldi's jazziest and sassiest Peanuts soundtrack, thanks to the larger-than-usual combo involved (because he was simultaneously working with some of these cats on the score for the Peanuts gang's big-screen debut, in A Boy Named Charlie Brown).

This new release was made possible, in part, by the enthusiastic response — and better-than-anticipated sales figures — of last year's soundtrack debut of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And you know how this works: If Short Summer proves similarly successful, that'll increase the chances of additional Guaraldi treats, moving forward.

Record Store Day lines form well before opening time ... so don't oversleep on April 20th!

Monday, December 18, 2023

Guaraldi cover albums: a new annual tradition?

As my previous post demonstrates, Guaraldi's music for A Charlie Brown Christmas has become a popular seasonal gig for jazz combos across the country — and in Canada and the UK — who perform in bars, restaurants, concert halls, wineries and pretty much anywhere they can find a stage.

Some of these musicians aren't content to stop with live performances; they're also releasing albums!

Two landed last December (and shame on me, for not calling attention to them here, at the time).

The Music of A Charlie Brown Christmas came from San Antonio-based pianist Doc Watkins, backed by bassist Franklin Skaggs, drummer Ryan Shaw, and an impressively large ensemble. For the past several years, Watkins and his orchestra have presented this program live during most of December, at San Antonio’s JazzTX. (Makes me want to take a quick trip to Texas!)
Purists probably will insist that these 10 tracks aren't jazz; the often string-enhanced arrangements hue more closely to what you’d expect from the Boston Pops or a lavish Broadway musical. That’s particularly true with mellow readings of “The Christmas Song,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Skating,” the latter blended with “The Christmas Waltz” (which gives Watkins a chance to demonstrate his vocal chops).

Watkins gets bonus points for covering all of Guaraldi's album, including a sparkling arrangement of “Fur Elise” that opens with Beethoven-esque solo piano, and then kicks into high gear with Shaw’s jump jazz drums and tasty big band swing. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

A Jolly Guaraldi Holiday 2023

It's time once again for this annual round-up of Guaraldi-themed concerts taking place between now and the end of the year, most of which (of course!) are tied in to his music from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The 2020 and '21 post-Covid slow-down definitely is behind us, since last year's impressive roster of performances matched pre-pandemic numbers. Some patrons and musicians remain cautious, and likely will be masked; we must respect folks wary of what seems to have become an annual "holiday infection bump." That said, the shows will go on. Some groups are "fighting back" with impressively lengthy schedules. Indeed, this year's list is much longer than ever before: We've covered 32 American states, five Canadian provinces and one venue in the UK. (And I'm sure groups in the remaining 18 states are joining in the fun; I simply haven't heard about them.)

All that said, schedules still are more fluid than they were, prior to 2020. It's best to keep an eye on the web site(s) of any artist and/or venue that catches your fancy, to learn of any last-minute changes.

I first traced the history and growth of this delightful annual tradition back in 2012, with a modest schedule that now seems quaint. This year's post will serve as a clearinghouse for any and all 2023 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. New entries and listings will be tagged as UPDATES

Let's start with mainstay groups with busy touring schedules:

• The Chris White Trio has become quite serious about honoring Guaraldi's holiday-themed Peanuts music. During the next month, Chris (on piano) will work with bassists Sean Jacobi, Mike Benning and Joe Policastro; and drummers Ryan Jacobi, Kurt Lubbe and Joe Adamik. The trio began this season back on Sunday, October 29, with a one-off performance of the music from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, at Winter's Jazz Club, in Chicago, Illinois. The same venue will host the trio's one-night tribute to the music from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 22. The group's full-schedule Charlie Brown Christmas shows will kick off Saturday, December 2, in Berwyn, Illinois, with additional performances at numerous Illinois venues, concluding Monday, December 18, at Evanston's MSpace. Details

Doc Watkins and his Orchestra began their month-long Christmas in Jazz tributes to the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas at San Antonio's JazzTX, Texas, on Friday, November 24. Upcoming shows include November 25, November 30-December 2, and December 5, 8-9, 14-16, 19 and 23. DetailsThey also scheduled a December 22 performance at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, also in San Antonio. Details. The icing on the cake: Watkins' terrific 2022 album, The Music of A Charlie Brown Christmasdo check it out!

The Eric Byrd Trio — Byrd, piano and vocals; Bhagwan Khalsa, acoustic bass; and Alphonso Young Jr., drums and percussion — has made a cottage industry of Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas music, having thus far released two cover albums: a 2009 studio project, and a 2021 live performance. Both are available here. Byrd's combo began its annual run on Sunday, November 26, in Washington, D.C., with subsequent performances in Virginia and Maryland, concluding Saturday, December 23, at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, in Frederick, Maryland. Details.

• The Heather Pierson Trio — Pierson, piano; Shawn Nadeau, bass; and Craig Bryan, drums — will began an ambition Charlie Brown Christmas tour on Sunday, November 26, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Subsequent stops will include venues in New Hampshire and Maine, concluding on Sunday, December 24, in Bethel, Maine. Details.

The Eric Mintel Quartet — Mintel, piano; Nelson Hill, sax; Jack Hegyi, bass; and Dave Mohn, drums — also has a busy schedule of Charlie Brown Holiday Jazz shows starting Wednesday, November 29, in Worcester, Massachusetts, with additional shows throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, concluding Thursday, December 21, in Clinton, New Jersey. Details.

• The Cartoon Christmas Trio — Jeff Knoettner, piano; Rob Swanson, double bass; and Larry Marshall, drums — performs music from A Charlie Brown Christmas, along with tunes from other animated holiday shows, such as Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (Their 2008 album is a kick; check it out.) They have an extremely busy schedule that kicks off November 30 in Wilmington, Delaware, with subsequent stops through December 23 in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Details.

• Popular jazz pianist David Benoit traditionally headlines a concert tour of his Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown each December. This year's schedule — which again features vocalist Courtney Fortune — kicks off Sunday, December 3, in Saratoga, California, with subsequent stops in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Arizona and additional California venues, and concludes Thursday-Saturday, December 21-23, at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley in Seattle, Washington. Check his website for details.

The Ornaments — Jen Gunderman, piano; Martin Lynds, bass; and James Haggaerty, drums — will be joined by special guest soloists for their 18th annual performances of music from A Charlie Brown Christmas during a busy schedule that runs from December 16-23: two shows Saturday, December 16, at the Temple Theatre in Portland, Tennessee; and 13 shows (!) Monday through Saturday, December 18-23, at the Eastside Bowl, in Nashville, Tennesee. Details.

The Annie Booth Trio — Booth, piano; Patrick McDevitt, bass; and Alejandro Castaño, drums — will be joined by guest vocalists Bailey Hinkley Grogan, Jenna McLean and Marion Powers, for their 10th annual Charlie Brown Christmas concerts during 13 shows (!) Monday through Sunday, December 18-24, at Dazzle, in Denver, Colorado. Details.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Pass the drumstick!

With copies of Guaraldi's score for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving finally landing in the hands of eager fans who've literally waited — in some cases — half a century for this treasure, Sean and Jason Mendelson have been hitting the publicity trail.

Check out the following:

• Sean and Jason's impressively enthusiastic, 35-minutes October 12 visit to the Cereal at Midnight podcast;

• A brief October 13 album plug at Jazz Weekly;

• The New York Times' reader-submitted "Ultimate Fall Playlist," published October 13, with Guaraldi's "Great Pumpkin Waltz" first on the 14-track result (where it's the only instrumental);

• Sean Mendelson's lengthy, 40-minute focus on the vinyl edition, during this October 18 chat with WCB: Jazz Vinyl Collector

• This nifty CNN video plug, citing the album alongside new releases from the Rolling Stones and Nancy Sinatra ... a gathering of 1960s icons!

• Sean Mendelson's 25-minute interview about the album, during this November 8 Neon Jazz Interviews chat;

• The official Lee Mendelson Film Productions Inc. YouTube album playlist.

And a couple blasts from the past:

• Good Housekeepings's "50 Best Thanksgiving Songs for Your Turkey Day Playlist," updated back in November 2021, with Guaraldi's "Thanksgiving Theme" nicely slotted at No. 19; and

• Entertainment Weekly's "15 Essential Songs for Your Thanksgiving Playlist," published in November 2022. The last-place entry goes to Guaraldi's "Thanksgiving Theme." (Hey, it still made the list, right?) In both these cases, the tune now can be heard on its own soundtrack album.

Finally, for those who eschew physical media, links to four different sources that offer digital purchase/downloads of the Thanksgiving tracks. (Qobuz is a reliable seller of lossless downloads; Presto Music is known mostly as a shop for classical music, but they also offer soundtracks and jazz.)

(This isn't a definitive list, merely the most common sources.)

Amazon (MP3) (click on "Purchase Options")

Apple/iTunes (M4A) (may open automatically in Music app, or you may need to click the "open in Music" button)

Qobuz (lossless download, high-res download)

Presto Music (lossless or MP3 download)


Finally, a brief acknowledgment of the holiday that comes before Thanksgiving...

Folks living in or near Chicago won't want to miss the Chris White Quartet's October 29 concerts at Winter's Jazz Club. Chris has been among the most ambitious of Guaraldi's torch-bearers; in addition to a busy annual schedule of Charlie Brown Christmas-themed shows — 23 this year! — in recent years he has branched out to include Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving gigs ... along with a Latin-themed Guaraldi set in July 2022.

We love this guy!

Friday, October 13, 2023

End of an era?

Has the Charlie Brown Christmas vinyl craze finally played out?

Concord/Craft confirmed that only one vinyl variant will be released this year: the picture vinyl shown at left, available solely from Barnes & Noble.


Although this LP was scheduled to be released on September 22, it's "temporarily out of stock" at B&N's online store. Nor is it available in any of the 21 B&N outlets within 100 miles of our home. On top of which, I have a report from one fan who advance-ordered it online awhile back, and his order was canceled ... which is odd.

Hopefully, it simply has been delayed.

That aside ... goodness, just the one? 

That's quite a reduction from last year, which saw eight variants, as also was the case in 2021. (A complete history of this marketing program, which photos of the variants, can be found here.) Including this year's release, and assuming my math is accurate — and if it isn't, I'm sure somebody will tell me — über-fans will have accumulated 42 LPs and one green 45 single.

I'd love to know what such an individual did with them all.

Display all the discs on a wall? (If somebody reading this actually did that, please send a photo; I'll happily post it here.)

It seems unsatisfying to simply file them vertically, with only their side ID visible, as with a conventional row of LPs.

There's no question that all the vinyl variants released during the past several years helped push the album into the Billboard 200's Top 10 for the past two years. I wonder, then, if that won't happen this year.

I guess we'll find out...

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Thanksgiving comes early this year!

Big news, gang.


We’ve all held our breath since late last year, hoping that the reception for the Definitive, Super Deluxe Charlie Brown Christmas — and the recently discovered, isn’t-it-fabulous original session recordings that produced a superior soundtrack for Great Pumpkin -- would translate, moving forward, into additional releases from Guaraldi’s Peanuts canon.


It has come to pass.


October 20 will see the debut of the full soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, just in time for the 1973 special’s 50th anniversary: 13 themes and cues used in the show, along with nine never-before-heard bonus and alternative tracks. The album will be available in three states: CD, vinyl and digital download.


Check out the official press release here.


Pre-order the CD from MVD here.


Pre-order the standard (black vinyl) LP from MVD here.

Pre-order the above CD or LP from Amazon here and here.

Pre-order the special Record Store Day jelly bean green vinyl LP here.

Pre-order the Target exclusive cranberry vinyl LP here.

The track list:


Show score:

    1. Charlie Brown Blues

    2. Thanksgiving Theme

    3. Thanksgiving Theme (Reprise)

    4. Peppermint Patty

    5. Little Birdie

    6. Thanksgiving Interlude

    7. Is It James or Charlie?

    8. Linus and Lucy

    9. Fife & Drums Theme

    10. Charlie Brown Blues (Reprise)

    11. Thanksgiving Interlude (Reprise)

    12. Thanksgiving Theme (2nd Reprise)

    13. Thanksgiving Theme (3rd  Reprise)


Bonus/Alternate tracks:

    14. Thanksgiving Theme (Alternate)

    15. Peppermint Patty (Bonus Mix)

    16. Linus and Lucy (Bonus Mix)

    17. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate take 2, 4, and 6)

    18. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate take 10)

    19. Thanksgiving Interlude (Alternate take 14)

    20. Is It James or Charlie? (Bonus mix with Whistling)

    21. Clark and Guaraldi

Preview Track 16 here.

Preview Track 20 here.


The recording features Vince Guaraldi, piano, keyboards and vocals; Tom Harrell, trumpet and brass arrangements; Chuck Bennett, trombone; Seward McCain, electric bass; and Mike Clark, drums. The album is produced by Sean and Jason Mendelson, re-mixed by Terry Carleton at Bones and Knives, and restored and mastered/re-mastered by Vinson Hudson.


Avid Guaraldi fans have long regarded this Emmy Award-winning TV special as a favorite, which is no surprise; the show is wall-to-wall music, bouncing between acoustic and electric keyboards, going silent only during Linus’ gentle sermon about the first Thanksgiving (a speech almost as eloquent as the one he delivers in Charlie Brown Christmas).


That sequence aside, Guaraldi was allowed to stretch and supply longer cues, each one beginning as the previous one fades. The show boasts three new tunes, starting with a lyrical title theme constructed from acoustic piano filigrees that evoke the keyboard cascades in “Skating.” An impudent cue titled “Is It James or Charlie?” adds a bit of James Brown sass to the mix; and the stand-out newcomer is Guaraldi’s vocal on “Little Birdie,” played at length when Snoopy — tasked with setting up the outdoor dining arrangements — wrestles with a basketball net, a garage door, a ping-pong table and an impressively sentient folding chair. 


Returning cues include one of Guaraldi’s best arrangements of “Linus and Lucy,” with brass adding a spirited counterpoint to the primary theme, and also shading a new four-chord climb at the end of each verse’s fourth measure: heard while Snoopy orchestrates the Thanksgiving “dinner” of buttered toast, popcorn, pretzels, jelly beans and ice cream parfaits. “Peppermint Patty” gets a quiet, leisurely arrangement on electric keyboard: perfectly echoing the girl’s coquettish side, notably when she flirts with Charlie Brown over the phone, while inviting herself — and Marcie and Franklin — to a party that doesn’t yet exist. 


The show’s final reprise of the title theme introduces a sparkling brass counterpoint: a terrific conclusion to a half-hour of solid combo jazz.

What’s not to love?

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Affectionate nods

Fellow Guaraldi fan Scott alerted me to a pair of just-discovered tributes, which have eluded our sharp little eyes until now (rather surprising, since neither is recent).

Guaraldi's combo and Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison occasionally appeared together for not quite half a year, from December 1972 through April 1973. These gig dates are certain:

• December 1 — The Alhambra Theater, Sacramento, at a benefit to save that venerable movie palace (an effort that failed, alas)
• December 15 — Berkeley Community Theater
• February 5 — The Lion's Share, San Anselmo
• April 27-28 — Cal-Neva Lodge, North Lake Tahoe

The Lion's Share appearance was broadcast live by KPFA; bootlegs circulate freely, including here.

Unfortunately, as I note in my book, the collaboration proved rocky, at best.

“They went down to Santa Monica once,” Guaraldi's girlfriend Gretchen Katamay recalled. “Vince told me later that he had driven up to the venue, looked at the marquee, and was shocked to discover that his name wasn’t included.

“Another time, Vince was going to record an album with Van. Everybody was sitting in the studio, waiting for Van; an hour and a half went by, so Vince got up and walked out. It was ‘leader’s attitude.’ Even though Vince had it himself, he wasn’t going to put up with it from somebody else. It wasn’t that important.”

Morrison's “rock star” attitude notwithstanding, he obviously thought back fondly on the partnership, as the decades passed. His’s 2016 album, Keep Me Singing, includes “In Tiburon,” a poetic ode that name-checks the hungry i, the Trident, the Cliff House, Lenny Bruce, Chet Baker and Jack Kerouac, among others. 

Dr. Funk gets his own line, sung twice: “Vince Guaraldi would play ‘Cast Your Fate to the Wind’ in the distance.”

Full lyrics can be found here.


This one's a bit unusual.

In February 2012, poet, essayist and literary critic Robert Pinsky — former Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the U.S. Library of Congress — teamed with Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist/composer Laurence Hobgood, for an album titled PoemJazz. Pinsky “performs” his poetry with melody and rhythm, in a harmonic/counterpoint “conversation” with Hobgood’s keyboard work: a style that hearkens back to the 1950s beat poets. 

One of the album tracks, “Ginza Samba,” begins as an ode to the saxophone, and then expands into a wealth of poetic imagery. 

We all know that "Ginza Samba" — sometimes called just plain-vanilla "Ginza" — is one of Guaraldi's early compositions. And, indeed, the tune can be recognized during this March 11, 2013, performance at Boston University; Pinsky is joined by Hobgood, piano; Stan Strickland, saxes; and John Lockwood, bass. Pinsky acknowledges this collaboration's origins: "This next poem, 'Ginza Samba,' is taken from the name of an actual jazz tune." (No, he didn't cite Guaraldi by name.)

That said, the version on the 2012 album doesn't sound at all like Guaraldi's tune.

Pinsky subsequently published the piece in a 2014 collection titled Ginza Samba: Selected Poems. (The full text of the title poem can be read here.) He and Hobgood frequently performed the piece thereafter, and I suspect the latter's keyboard accompaniment varied each time; after all, that's the nature of jazz.

You just never know when — or where — another reference to Guaraldi will pop up...

Friday, February 17, 2023

Bits & bobs: Winter 2023

Late last year, I spent a delightful couple of hours chatting with Bill Carter, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. As some of you know, he's also an accomplished jazz pianist who heads the swingin' Presbybop Quartet, making him a member of the small but wonderfully active "jazz praise" musicians' network.

Longtime followers of Guaraldi and this blog will recall that Bill spent a year getting ready for his church's 50th anniversary celebration of Guaraldi's Grace Cathedral Jazz Mass, which resulted in a marvelous September morning in 2015, as I related here.

Bill also has spent the last few years writing a book, Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and the Spiritual Life, soon to be published by Broadleaf Books. Partly as a means of spreading the word about this project, and partly because he so enjoys discussing the intersection of music (notably jazz) and religion, he was encouraged to "enhance his media presence." He therefore began a fortnightly podcast, The Spirit of Jazz, which has been going strong since last August.

(By now you must have realized that Bill is one of those individuals who rarely pauses to eat or sleep.)

He invited me to be a guest for one episode, but — because our conversation continued at considerable length — he wound up with enough material for two full episodes. (Neither of us can be accused of having little to say.) They are:

While you're visiting, be sure to check out his other episodes; they're all quite engaging (just like Bill himself).


Many months have passed, since the two new releases of Guaraldi's Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus were announced, back in September. So many months, in fact, that you've likely forgotten that Craft Recordings' Small Batch One-Step Pressing LP finally will be released next Friday, February 24. (New liner notes are supplied by someone I know fairly well.)

Orders can be placed here, or via Amazon, or — better still — request the album at your local brick-and-mortar music store, to help keep them in business!

Friday, January 6, 2023

Chart success: 2022

After the excitement generated by last year's holiday-season sales of Guaraldi's soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, the question was whether the results would be as spectacular this year.

Not quite ... but still very impressive.

Three Billboard charts held our attention this year:

• The Billboard 200, which tracks album sales across all platforms (the formula being 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams = 10 tracks sales = 1 album sale);

Billboard's Top Album Sales, which preserves the traditional methodology of counting solely pure album sales (which is where all those variant vinyl LPs play an important role); and

Billboard's Hot 100, which tracks the popularity of individual songs.

Last year, A Charlie Brown Christmas rose to #6 on the Billboard 200. So, how did it do this year?

The album entered the chart (once again, a "re-entry") for the week of November 19, at #90. It quickly rose to #43 the following week, and then #17 on December 3. It entered the top 10 — at #10 — the next week, but dropped to #12 on December 17. Then it rallied, and rose to #9 on December 24 ... and then #8 on December 31. Alas, that proved to be its peak, as it dropped back to #10 during the week of January 7.

Ah, but the news was much better in the Top Album Sales chart, where A Charlie Brown Christmas entered at #11 on December 3. It rose to #7 the following week, and then to #5 on December 17 ... which surpassed the previous year's peak position (#6). But Vince wasn't finished; his album hit #2 (!) on December 24, trailing behind only Taylor Swift's Midnight.

We held our breath, and wondered ... could Charlie Brown overtake Ms. Swift the following week?

(Highly unlikely. A Charlie Brown Christmas sold 17,000 units that week, to achieve its #2 status ... while Midnight's sales were in the low six figures.)

Alas, A Charlie Brown Christmas dropped to #3 on December 31, and then to #8 on January 7.

UPDATE: It dropped to #40, for the week ending January 14. (Guaraldi vanished from the other two charts.)

The Hot 100 chart offered a bit of solace. "Linus and Lucy" popped up for one week, at #49 on December 31, giving that tune its second run on this chart, following the previous year's surprise appearance (at #37). It disappeared on January 7, when "Christmas Time Is Here" debuted, at #50. It, too, did better the previous year, with a two-week run (#48, then #41).

Albeit a bit disappointing, we must put this chart action in perspective; we're talking about music that was produced almost seven decades ago, by a jazz artist who's been dead for almost half a century. If that isn't unprecedented, it's certainly astonishing!