CHRISTMAS JAZZ Part II


Thought I'd focus on some variants on a single tune today. The selection is "Christmas Time is Here," by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. That combo had a surprise hit in 1963 with "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," a samba-like melody that thrilled me upon its release because it sounded like nothing else on the radio. The release of Black Orpheus had introduced Bossa Nova to the US a little earlier, and soon Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, and Astrud Gilberto would have successful recordings on the American charts. But it was Vince Guaraldi's tune that won the Jazz Grammy back in '63. Guaraldi would truly gain prominence, however, when he was asked to record the soundtrack for a Christmas special starring the characters from Charles Schultz's beloved strip Peanuts. Lee Mendelson, the producer of the now iconic special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, had heard "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and thought Guaraldi would be able to embellish the animated feature with a unique sound. "Linus and Lucy" may be the most famous track from the special, but this one is memorable as well. Hard to believe, but fully half of the television sets in the United States were tuned to A Charlie Brown Christmas on that December night in 1965.

Below are the following versions. 1.) The original song, as performed by Guaraldi's trio (This video, sadly, was removed, but I've tried again with this replacement). 2.) A snippet of the tune from the original special 3.) A wonderful cover with vocalist Michael Franks, accompanied by pianist David Benoit. Benoit, whom we heard in the last post, grew up with Guaraldi as his primary musical influence. Sadly, Guaraldi died much too young, back in the 70s. There is another wonderful interpretation of the tune by pianist Brad Mehldau, but no video available. I'd certainly recommend that you add it to your iPod.