Friday, February 18, 2022

Bits & bobs

Followers of this blog will recall that the various special releases promised for last year's Record Store Day — on Saturday, June 12 — included Guaraldi's “Baseball Theme,” pressed for the very first time as a stand-alone, 7-inch single. Alas, supply-chain issues and the ongoing vinyl shortage resulted in numerous titles being postponed or canceled; the Guaraldi single was one of the casualties.

Good news, folks: It now has been promised for Record Store Day 2022: Saturday, April 23. Mark your calendar!

By way of a reminder, the A-side features 1964's original soundtrack version of the song, while the B-side is an alternative studio take never before available on vinyl (although it is included on the album's 2014 CD re-release). 

“Baseball Theme” was one of many tunes Guaraldi wrote for the never-released 1964 documentary, A Boy Named Charlie Brown: to be used in a sequence devoted to Charlie Brown’s ill-fated efforts on the ball field. Guaraldi deftly leads his trio through the up-tempo instrumental track, accompanied by bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey. 

The limited-edition single is pressed on white vinyl and housed in a colorful jacket, featuring whimsical, baseball-themed images of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Visit for a list of participating indie retailers. 


The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an excellent article concerning an honor bestowed to the famous Hyde Street Studios: a bronze plaque recognizing it as a legacy business in San Francisco, for its contributions to the history and identity of the neighborhood, and to the pantheon of pop music.

Way back in the day, when it was known as the Wally Heider Studios (and following his breakup with Fantasy), Guaraldi recorded many of his scores for Peanuts specials within its walls, starting with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, and concluding — on February 6, the day he later died — with It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown

On February 6, 1974, Guaraldi and his trio were in that studio to record a live concert broadcast by KPFA and KPFB, much later released as the CD Live on the Air.

Guaraldi also spent several studio sessions, over the course of his final few years, recording tracks for a never-completed album: among them "Autumn Leaves," "Billie's Bounce," "No. 1 Snoopy Place," "Special Song" and "Your Song."


This isn't fresh news, but it was new to me.

Back in 2009, Fantasy released the two-disc Definitive Vince Guaraldi, which is a marvelous 31-song collection of Guaraldi's best work for that label, from early tunes such as "Calling Dr. Funk" to later Peanuts efforts, such as the title theme to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. The package also included two previously unreleased tracks: "Blues for Peanuts" and an alternate take of "Autumn Leaves."

I somehow missed the fact that, in July 2019, Hal Leonard released a massive 216-page book in its "Artist Transcription" series, devoted to the music in this two-disc set, and bearing the same title.

It contains all 31 songs.

Let me assure you, these are not trivial arrangements; as promised by the series, they are "authentic, note-for-note transcriptions." Many of them — I'm looking at "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Manha de Carnaval" — are impressively dense; you'll need serious piano chops to play these puppies.

(But everybody loves a challenge, right?)

This is, without question, the most impressive Guaraldi song book released thus far. Better work on those finger exercises!

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