Sunday, January 16, 2022

New projects

Pandemic-enforced isolation has a few benefits, such as encouraging folks to finally tackle massive, long-postponed projects of one sort or another. I mean, really; what else were we able to do with our time?

The folks over at Lee Mendelson Film Productions spent the past year and change digging through their music archives, which prompted some happy discoveries: wonderful Guaraldi artifacts, some of which may have been thought lost; additional details will follow, as plans for mainstream release can be finalized.

One of their many goals has been to enhance Guaraldi's sheet music library, by releasing more fulsome expressions of his genius Peanuts work. They've started with 18 of Guaraldi's less well-known themes and cues, which now are available via Hal Leonard Publishing as online folios. They aren't simple, "E-Z play" arrangements for all ages; these are solid transcriptions that'll require at least some keyboard chops.

Click each title to be taken to the relevant SheetMusicDirect page.

"Little Red-Haired Girl" (a preferable title for a cue originally called "Trio Ad Lib" when used in You're in Love, Charlie Brown)

Have fun! More will follow, as long as this initial set generates sufficient interest. 


Across the border in Canada, the Community Foundation of Nova Scotia has unveiled the Jerry Granelli Legacy Fund, in recognition of the jazz drummer — and long-ago Guaraldi sideman — who passed last year.
The fund is dedicated to carrying on Granelli's unique approach to teaching, and to the nurturing of the improvising arts community he created in Nova Scotia, which was his home for many years, and where — in addition to his live performances — he worked as an educator and community builder.

His unique teaching approach is embodied in the Creative Music Workshop, established in 1996 with fellow Halifax musicians Don Palmer (sax) and Skip Beckwith (bass).

The Workshop has been run in collaboration with the Atlantic/Halifax Jazz Festival since its inception. Today it is an eight-day intensive program grounding participants of all ages, skill levels, and artistic disciplines in the fundamentals and practice of improvisation in music and life. 

This is a lovely honor ... and it makes me want to visit Nova Scotia!

(When such travel once again is safe and practical, of course...)

Monday, January 3, 2022

Chart success!

Guaraldi's score for A Charlie Brown Christmas has been popular ever since it debuted back in 1965, so it's no surprise that sales increase every year, as we approach the holiday season. What is surprising is that the album's popularity — as measured by sales, and recorded by Billboard magazine's various charts — has been increasing dramatically during the past several years.

The album didn't achieve any Billboard ranking until 1987, when (finally!) it debuted on the Top Holiday Albums chart. Two decades later — for the week ending January 27, 2007 — it peaked at No. 2 on that chart.

Its performance on the Billboard 200 (album) chart is more noteworthy, as this chart clocks all genres. A Charlie Brown Christmas always has posted respectable numbers during the final month of each year, but it finally reached the Top 10 — at #10 — just a year ago, on January 2, 2021.

Ah, but its performance this past holiday season has been spectacular.

The album entered the Billboard 200 chart on the week ending November 13, at #159. It rose to #63 the following week, then #51, and then #21. It hit #10 on December 11. Then it rose to #9 the following week, and #8 on Christmas Day.

Then — wait for it — the album hit #6 (!) on January 1, 2022. That's amazing.

(I suspect all those variants LPs, which have become an annual tradition, had a great deal to do with that ranking.)

UPDATE: With the holidays behind us, I guessed it would drop much lower the following week ... but that didn't happen. A Charlie Brown Christmas still placed a very respectable #8 for the week concluding January 8.

But this isn't even the best news.

Billboard's Hot 100 tracks the popularity of individual songs; way back in the day, that was measured by the sales of 45 singles. These days, as explained by Billboard, "The week's most popular songs across all genres [are] ranked by radio airplay audience impressions, as measured by Nielsen Music; sales data, as compiled by Nielsen Music; and streaming activity data provided by online music sources."

Guaraldi's only song to hit the Hot 100 was "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," which entered that chart — at #94 — on December 8, 1962. During a 19-week run that finally concluded on April 6, 1963, it peaked at #22 on February 23.

That song remained a Hot 100 Guaraldi one-shot ... until now.

The just-released Hot 100 chart — also dated January 1, 2022 — reveals two new debuts: "Linus and Lucy," at #37; and "Christmas Time Is Here," at #48.

UPDATE: "Christmas Time Is Here" rose to #41 for the week dated January 8, although (alas) "Linus and Lucy" vanished from the chart.

More than half a century after they were released.

This truly has been a magical Guaraldi Christmas!

[Note: The chart links above always default to the most recent week; you can dial back to any previous week by clicking on the blue circle calendar icon, directly below the chart title.]