Many people might not know the name Vince Guaraldi, but I’m sure they have heard and loved his music since Vince is the one who composed and performed all that great music for the Charlie Brown TV specials back in the 60’s. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” being the one most beloved by millions.
Vince was a great jazz pianist and composer and could swing with the best of them. He even had a hit on the pop charts with his cool “Cast Your Fate Into The Wind”, which (I guess) is how he got the Charlie Brown gig. Hiring a jazz trio play as the background for a cartoon was unheard of at the time and CBS should be credited with trying something new. Turned out it was a match made in heaven. The specials greatest legacy is that they are still being played today, nearly fifty years later. I, like many others look forward to seeing “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on TV this time of year. Just one of those things you never get tired of watching.
If I had to pick a favorite moment in the Christmas special, it would have to be the part where Linus tells Charlie Brown “what Christmas is all about”. The universal theme of “Peace On Earth – Good Will Towards Men” is something that we can relate to – especially in todays troubled times. Many years ago I picked up The Vince Guarlidi Trio Charlie Brown Christmas CD and always have it on this time of year. It’s some of the best arrangements of classic Christmas music that you will ever hear – so if you have not has the pleasure be sure to pick it up. Great stuff!
As a pianist and composer, I’ve always been influenced by Guaraldi’s work. His music is probably one of the first things that I can remember hearing, having grown up watching those specials on TV way back when. Before I even knew who Guaraldi was, I loved his music – so it was a real treat for me when I finally went out and picked up the sheet music to Guaraldi’s arrangements of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” early this year. I’ve been having a blast playing through all the songs on my old acoustic piano.
After learning most of the arrangements (some of them are pretty hard), I wanted to pick one which I could re-arrange, record and add a bit of my own style to – so I decided to go with “Greensleeves”. I booted up my Korg M3 and Yamaha Motif workstations and went to work recording everything in MOTU’s Digital Performer. Once I had the drum and bass parts recorded everything came together easily. The piano part was a bit tricky since the original arrangement was in “three” (a jazz waltz) and I changed the rhythm to a “slow four” (pop feel), but eventually it came together.
Once I finished recording the music I thought a video would be nice as a Christmas message so I surfed around YouTube and found a bunch of video from the special. I grabbed a few clips and edited everything together on my Mac using Apples Final Cut Express. The project was lot’s of fun from start to finish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together.
Peace On Earth – Good Will Towards Men. We need it more then ever now.
Merry Christmas From Kid Nepro!