A Charlie Brown Christmas
Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz called on pianist extraordinaire Vince Guaraldi and his trio to compose and perform music that would reflect the humor, charm, and innocence of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts gang for their 1965 Christmas TV special.
It was a perfect match: Guaraldi strings together elegant, enticing arrangements that reflect the spirit and mood of Schulz’s work and introduce contemporary jazz to youngsters with grace, charm, and creativity. “What Child Is This” touches on cool jazz’s richly textured percussive nuances, while “The Christmas Song” reflects Christmas’ relaxing, mellow moments. The renowned “Linus and Lucy” gives the Peanuts characters a fresh, energetic feel with its tantalizing meter changes, brilliant percussion, and dashing, humorous piano lines. “Christmastime Is Here,” perhaps the album’s most endearing and eloquent moment, is six minutes of soft, lullaby-like melodic and percussive flavors. This collection of soul-soothing melodies would not be complete without the romantic gem “Skating,” which blends musical references to falling snowflakes with the dashing feel of swing. Finally, the uplifting, emotionally stirring swing tune “Christmas Is Coming” really brings the listener into the joyous light of the Christmas spirit. Fred Marshall’s alluring walking basslines and drummer Jerry Granelli’s hauntingly beautiful brush work give most of the album a warm foundation, while Monty Budwig and Colin Bailey shine through with eminent dexterity on bass and drums on “Greensleeves.” As for Guaraldi, his penetrating improvisational phrases paint pictures of the first winter snowfall, myriad glistening trees, and powdery white landscapes.
With its blend of contemporary jazz and lyrical mannerisms, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a joyous and festive meditation for the holiday season.