Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The second time around!

Big news, gang.

Huge, actually.

After two lonely years spent in my patented deep-sea isolation chamber, I've emerged victorious with the enhanced and improved second edition of my Guaraldi biography. McFarland, my beloved publisher, graciously agreed to share this magnificent tome with the world at large. It officially becomes available today.

[Um ... too much?]

Okay, I embellished a little.

In point of fact, I was quite honored — back in January 2022 — when McFarland expressed interest in an updated version of the original 2012 book. The target goal of such projects, I was told, was at least 25 percent new material; did I think I could supply that much?

Goodness, yes, I replied. Probably a bit more.

For starters — and this is no surprise, with such a book — within weeks of original publication, I started hearing from additional people with great "Guaraldi encounter" experiences to share, along with sidemen I'd either been unable to track down, or who simply hadn't been on my radar at all. Some of their stories first appeared in earlier posts in this blog; others are seeing print for the first time in the book's new edition.

Then, too, Guaraldi's star has gone supernova during the past decade, with all manner of new album releases, expanded and re-mastered editions of earlier albums, and wholly unexpected and unprecedented Billboard chart-making sales figures. Guaraldi arguably is much more famous today, than he was during his own lifetime ... and he was well celebrated then!

The excitement generated by all this fresh success demanded to be recorded for posterity in an updated edition of his biography.

But there was one stipulation: Neither McFarland nor I wanted the book to get excessively fat, because that would have pushed the cover price beyond what we considered reasonable. It therefore became necessary to trim the existing content by roughly 25 percent, in order to make room for the new material.

That was a fascinating challenge ... because, ideally, I wanted such cuts to be invisible, or nearly so. I felt like a director tasked with whittling a 160-minute first cut down to its best possible self, at 120 minutes ... and then making it even better with 40 additional minutes of fresh footage.

And, yes; that took the better part of 20 months. As the work progressed, I frequently was reminded of the sage wisdom of British journalist, critic and novelist Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who advised the frequent necessity to ruthlessly "murder your darlings." Which is to say, a glib turn of phrase — or paragraph or three — that's cute for its own sake, serves no real purpose.

Hard advice. I like my glib turns of phrase.

(And yes; I'm well aware that many attribute that guidance to either William Faulkner or Ernest Hemingway. They're wrong.)


Both McFarland and I are pleased with the ultimate result: a heartfelt book that (in my humble opinion) does an even better job of honoring the late and totally great Vince Guaraldi.

I'm further honored to have a new, second Foreword by good buddy and multiple Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Michael Graves, and the truly snazzy cover designed by equally good friend and multi-talented Douglas Anderson. Gentlemen, take a bow.

The official McFarland order page can be found here.

Although the book wasn't officially released until today, I'm pretty sure folks have been able to order from other sources for awhile. Such is the crazy world of publishing these days.

Needless to say, I hope you all enjoy it...

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Summer comes twice this year!

Now that the madness of Record Store Day is behind us, and the 1,200 LP copies of that album in "camp green vinyl" sold out within minutes — and already are turning up on after-market sites such as eBay, at outrageously inflated prices — we can turn our attention to mainstream releases.

The bad news: Patience remains necessary.

The good news: We finally have a solid date — July 5 — for the release on CD, via digital and two new LP editions: a regular black vinyl (available at all retailers) and a Record Store Day Indie Exclusive "summer night blue" vinyl.

The CD, digital, and black vinyl are now available to pre-order from Amazon and other retailers, and the RSD Indie Exclusive is pre-orderable from record stores .

I don't need to repeat everything from the earlier post regarding this album — which includes the full track list — but a few relevant details should be mentioned again:

This is by far the "richest" of Guaraldi's Peanuts TV scores, because he was able to re-unite with many of the jazz cats with whom he also was laying down the tracks for the big screen's debut Peanuts film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Thus, this Short Summer session features Guaraldi (piano), Monty Budwig (double bass), Jack Sperling (drums), Conti and Pete Candoli (trumpets), Frank Rosolino (trombone), Victor Feldman (percussion), Herb Ellis (guitar), and William Hood and Peter Christlieb (woodwinds), with John Scott Trotter as orchestra leader. 

This 55th anniversary debut of Guaraldi’s score grants us the opportunity to enjoy these tracks in their full, “little big band” glory: a listening experience not possible while watching the TV special, because — in many cases — the music is significantly “dialed down” behind action and dialogue, making it difficult to appreciate the performance intricacies. 

As an indication of how busy Guaraldi, Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez were in 1969, and the scramble to finish all the elements of this special in time for its September 27 debut on CBS-TV, Guaraldi and his combo didn’t hit the studio to record the music until September 11 and 12. The recorded tracks therefore were edited into the show, and the finished product shipped off to CBS, in just two weeks: almost unprecedented, at that point in time. (One envisions plenty of hair being torn out.)

The full Lee Mendelson Film Productions press release can be found here.

Three sample tracks can be heard here.

For those of you who don't remove the shrink-wrap from your collectible LPs, be advised: It's difficult to distinguish the three.

• The Record Store Day "camp green" edition has a barcode sticker on the outside of the shrink-wrap. That barcode number is 60137-14240.

• The "summer night blue" album will have an "indie exclusive" sticker on the front, and does not have an external barcode sticker. Its barcode number is 60137-14544.

* The black vinyl will also have a barcode sticker on the outside of the shrinkwrap - barcode number still to be determined, but it will be different from either of the other two.

Mind you, these differences are subtle: an indentically sized white sticker placed directly on top of (and covering) the existing white barcode printed on the LP jacket (beneath the shrink-wrap). It would be almost impossible to distinguish between the three when making an online purchase, without being able to see the barcode numbers, so ... caveat emptor.

Finally, this detail is worth a reminder:

This new release was made possible, in great part, by the enthusiastic response — and better-than-anticipated sales figures — of last year's soundtrack debut of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. You know how this works: If Short Summer proves similarly successful, that'll increase the chances of additional Guaraldi treats, moving forward. So don't be parsimonious: Buy a second copy as a gift for a friend!

The Summer of 2024 promises to be quite sweet!