Night Lights Classic Jazz

It’s Jazz, Charlie Brown: The Vince Guaraldi Story

His music is loved by millions of people around the world—forever associated with the TV version of a popular comic strip. Who was the man behind that music?

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Definitive Vince Guaraldi

Photo: CD cover art

More than Peanuts: Guaraldi brought an impressive jazz pedigree to his work on the animated television specials.

Vince Guaraldi wrote some of the most popular music ever composed by a jazz artist. Drawing on boogie-woogie, blues, bebop, Latin jazz, and bossa nova, he created a magical and evocative sound that was heard by millions of listeners around the world through the Peanuts TV specials, beginning with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in 1965.

Though the commercial success of those specials gave Guaraldi economic security, he continued to play jazz gigs at small clubs till the end of his life. Intense, exploratory and devoted to his craft, he left a profoundly jazzy stamp on American popular culture.

It’s Jazz, Charlie Brown: The Vince Guaraldi Story reveals insight into Vince Guaraldi as a musician and a man, with interviews and music. We’ll talk with:

We’ll also hear the wide expanse of the pianist’s career on record. Recordings include:

  • Early appearances with Woody Herman and Cal Tjader
  • 1960s bossa nova collaborations with guitarist Bola Sete
  • Excerpts from Guaraldi’s sacred concert and late-period fusion excursion
  • Guaraldi’s early piano trio sides
  • Several of his most popular Peanuts recordings
  • Guaraldi’s 1962 pre-Peanuts hit, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”

For More Vince Guaraldi…

• Read Derrick Bang‘s essay, and his extensive rundown of the Guaraldi discography.

• Listen to an NPR story on the making of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

Music Heard On This Episode

El Matador
Vince Guaraldi — The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy, 2009)
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El Matador
Vince Guaraldi — The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy, 2009)
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A Flower is a Lovesome Thing
Vince Guaraldi — A Flower is a Lovesome Thing (OJC, 1957)

Notes: Also available on THE DEFINITIVE VINCE GUARALDI.

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Fenwyck's Farfel
Vince Guaraldi — The Vince Guaraldi Trio (OJC, 1956)

Notes: Also available on THE DEFINITIVE VINCE GUARALDI.

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Pinetop's Blues
Woody Herman — Blues and Swing Groove (Fresh Sound, 1956)
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Now's the Time
Cal Tjader — Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Fest, 1958)
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Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Vince Guaraldi — Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus (OJC, 1962)

Notes: Also available on THE DEFINITIVE VINCE GUARALDI.

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Ginza Samba
Vince Guaraldi/Bola Sete — The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy, 2009)
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Surfin' Snoopy
Vince Guaraldi — Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits (Fantasy, 1998)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Star Song
Vince Guaraldi/Bola Sete — The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy, 2009)
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Linus and Lucy
Vince Guaraldi — A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1965)

Notes: Also available on THE DEFINITIVE VINCE GUARALDI.

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Christmas Time Is Here
Vince Guaraldi — A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1965)
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Theme to Grace
Vince Guaraldi — The Grace Cathedral Concert (Fantasy, 1965)

Notes: Also available on THE DEFINITIVE VINCE GUARALDI.

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Oaxaca
Vince Guaraldi — Oaxaca (D & D, 1971)
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Joe Cool
Vince Guaraldi — The Lost Cues From the Charlie Brown Television Specials (D & D, 2007)
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My Little Drum
Vince Guaraldi — A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 1965)
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Skating
Vince Guaraldi — A Charlie Brown Christmas (Fantasy, 2009)

Notes: Also available on THE DEFINITIVE VINCE GUARALDI.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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  • keithsaunders

    As a jazz pianist I look forward to December when I can once again insert “Christmas Time is Here” into my repertoire.

  • keithsaunders

    As a jazz pianist I look forward to December when I can once again insert “Christmas Time is Here” into my repertoire.

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