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Peanuts Greatest Hits

Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy Label

Review by David Bowling

Vince Guaraldi was a jazz pianist who had a nice little career going for himself during the 1950’s and first half of the 1960’s; first with Cal Tjader and then as the leader of his own trio. His “Caste Your Fate To The Wind” won a Grammy Award and his brand of light melodic rhythms gave him an expanding fan base. Little did he know that in early 1964 destiny would come calling.

Les Mendelson was hired to bring the Peanuts cartoon strip to television. One day, when driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, he happened to hear “Caste Your Fate To The Wind.” This began a relationship that lasted until Guaraldi’s premature death at the age of 47.

Guaraldi wrote the music for the Peanuts television specials for over a decade plus scored the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown. The best of his Peanuts work has now been released under the appropriate title Peanuts Greatest Hits.

Three generations of American parents and children have been exposed to the jazz of Vince Guaraldi; many without realizing it. The Peanuts specials are difficult to imagine without his music including such tunes as “Linus And Lucy,” “Charlie Brown Theme,” “Great Pumpkin Waltz,” and “Christmas Time Is Here”

His music has become synonymous with the comic strip and it’s characters. It is immediately recognizable, not for the jazz melodies, but for the memories it invokes.

Of interest to all fans of Guaraldi and Peanuts is the inclusion of a second version of “Christmas Time Is Here,” which includes vocals by the St. Paul’s Church Youth Choir of San Rafael, California.

Peanuts Greastest Hits contains music that has become a part of American culture and remains enjoyable and relevant decades after its creation.

Rating: ***1/2