So much to find...

Vince Guaraldi on LP and CD




By Derrick Bang



This document is designed to catalog every recording on which Vince Guaraldi performed: no small task, as it turns out.

While fans -- both casual and serious -- should find many unexpected delights here, the best news is that the list continues to expand. I would have thought all of Guaraldi's early combo work had been issued, but then Concord Records surprised us in the summer of 2008 by releasing The Best of Cal Tjader: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-1980, which includes the entire 36-minute 1958 concert that introduced so many folks to Guaraldi's phenomenal keyboard chops. Then, too, Guaraldi's son David has been releasing collections of previously unissued studio dates and live performance gigs; the recording quality of the latter isn't always phenomenal, but the opportunity to hear "fresh Vince" outweighs such issues.

This document is divided into two sections: recordings on which Guaraldi participated as a sideman, and recordings released under his own name, or that of his combo. Entries in each section are listed chronologically, to the extent that original recording dates are known. (Fantasy, the label for which Guaraldi recorded much of his work, is frustratingly incomplete -- and sometimes inaccurate -- with regard to such data.) Finally, each entry includes a rating from one (*) to five (*****) stars. These do not necessarily indicate the "listenability" of the album as a whole, merely its value specifically to fans seeking Guaraldi's participation. (I've never been a fan of Cal Tjader's heaviest Latin period, for example, but the lower ratings on some of those albums reflect Guaraldi's minimal involvement, rather than my dislike of the music therein.)

If, after perusing this list, you'd like to learn more about Guaraldi and his work, check out this site's affiliated pages here.

Otherwise ... onward!



As sideman:



The Cal Tjader Trio

"The Cal Tjader Trio"

****

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3-9

Re-issued on CD with numerous other tracks, as Cal Tjader: Extremes (Fantasy FCD-24764-2)

Recorded November 1951; released December 1953


Wow! Some musicians are astonishing right out of the gate, and Guaraldi certainly was one of them. This album, jazz legend Cal Tjader's very first recording for Fantasy, also includes -- as far as I know -- Vince Guaraldi's first studio work. The album was recorded in three chunks, with Vince handling piano on four of the eight tracks; these four cuts -- scarcely 11 minutes of music, with the trio of Tjader (vibes, bongos and drums), Jack Weeks (bass) and Guaraldi (piano) -- open the album, and they're an amazing showcase for the pianist who'd later help define the sound of West Coast Jazz. (Pianist John Marabuto joined Tjader and Weeks on the other four tracks, during an earlier session.)

Guaraldi gets things off to a sizzling start with his smoking solos on "Chopsticks Mambo" (I promise, you'll never again think of that silly introductory exercise in quite the same way) and "Vibra-Tharp," two Tjader originals. Guaraldi is equally hot on "Three Little Words," and I'm frankly amazed Tjader was so generous on this first album; these three tracks are a much more dynamic showcase for Guaraldi, than for the trio's named leader! Only on "Lullaby of the Leaves" does Vince scale back a bit, providing mostly shading for Tjader's vibes.

This album wasn't even available as a standard 12-inch LP; it only saw release as one of those clunky, early-1950s 10-inch albums. Fantasy's CD release -- FCD-24764-2, coupled with another Tjader album, Breathe Easy," and collectively titled Extremes -- thus resurrects these tracks for what most jazz fans will regard as the first time: seminal music that hasn't been heard in half a century. And you can't help but be impressed.

While intending no ill will toward Marabuto, it's interesting to note that Guaraldi's four tracks were selected to open Extremes, rather than following chronological order and starting with Marabuto's four. One imagines Fantasy's re-mastering engineer wanted to get the listener's attention right out of the gate, and that wouldn't have happened with the Marabuto tracks; they're pleasant and tasty, but nothing special.

Guaraldi's efforts, in great contrast, positively roar.

Extremes



As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case blue.

Two 78RPM "singles" were released with these four tracks: Galaxy 703-X, with "Chopsticks Mambo" and "Vibra-Tharpe," in March 1952; and Galaxy 705-X, with "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "Three Little Words," in the fall of 1952.




Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes, bongos, drums
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Jack Weeks -- bass

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Chopsticks Mambo"
"Lullaby of the Leaves"
"Three Little Words"
"Vibra-Tharpe"
[A fifth track, "I Want to Be Happy," was recorded during the same session, but remains as-yet unreleased.]

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Charlie Mariano

"Charlie Mariano"

**

Charlie Mariano

Fantasy 3-10

Re-issued on CD with Modern Music from San Francisco, as The Jazz Scene: San Francisco (Fantasy FCD-24760-2)

Recorded March 1953; released November 1953


Guaraldi doesn't perform on this album, but it does have the distinction of including one of his early compositions, "The Nymph." Guaraldi never recorded it on one of his own albums, and it appears here in a sextet format headed by alto saxman Charlie Mariano, with whom the pianist briefly toured in 1953, when both were members of the Bill Harris/Chubby Jackson Herd. "The Nymph" is a lively little 4/4 tune, with an opening melody that segues into solos by Mariano, Dick Collins (trumpet), Sonny Truit (trombone) and finally Richard Wyands (piano), before returning to the main theme and concluding with a sassy flourish. Even here, at this early stage, we can detect Guaraldi's compositional facility for creating appealing melodies with just a few bars.

Jazz Scene San Francisco

Although the 10-inch Fantasy LP is staggeringly difficult to come by, the contents are readily available ... well, most of the contents, anyway. The first seven of the eight tracks are included in the CD reissue The Jazz Scene: San Francisco, which (probably not coincidentally) also includes Guaraldi's first album as leader, Modern Music from San Francisco. Fortunately, "The Nymph" is one of the tracks included on the CD. (For the record, the original Mariano LP's final cut, "I've Told Every Little Star," is the one left off the CD.)

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.




Personnel:
Charlie Mariano -- alto sax
Dick Collins -- trumpet
Sonny Truit -- trombone, baritone sax
Richard Wyands -- piano
Vernon Alley -- bass
Joe MacDonald -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi: (none)

Guaraldi compositions:
"The Nymph"


Brew Moore Quintet

"Brew Moore Quintet"

*

Brew Moore

Fantasy LP 3-222; Original Jazz Classics OJC 100, OJCCD 100-2

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-100-2 (F-3-222)

Guaraldi track recorded August 28, 1955; released July 1956


Fantasy Records had a peculiar tendency, particular in the early days, of "building" albums by blending performances from all sorts of different recording sessions. The bulk of this album by tenor saxman Brew Moore was recorded January 15 and February 22, 1956, at San Francisco's Marines Memorial Hall. One track, however -- a slow, haunting cover of Johnny Mercer's "Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)" -- is taken from a live performance in August 1955 at UC Berkeley. For some reason, two isolated tracks from this UC Berkeley concert were placed on two different Brew Moore albums -- see next entry, as well -- but the concert in its entirety never has been released. This concert featured an entirely different band: Moore on sax, Cal Tjader on vibes, Bob Collins on trombone, Bobby White on drums, Eddie Duran on guitar, Dean Reilly on bass, and Guaraldi on piano. (John Marabuto is the pianist at the Marines Memorial Hall sessions.) The disconnect during the listening experience is mildly disconcerting, because this one track opens and closes with live applause, which isn't the case for any of the album's other cuts!

Sadly, this otherwise delicious reading of "Fools Rush In" doesn't show Guaraldi at his best; he contributes gentle shading and matching chords behind Moore's solo line, but that's it; the arrangement doesn't lend itself to a piano solo. Guaraldi injects a heartbeat of sparkle only at the very end, with a quick concluding flourish. This album's definitely only for Guaraldi completists.

Personnel:
Brew Moore -- sax
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Dean Reilly -- bass
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Bob Collins -- trombone
Bobby White -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Fools Rush In"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Brew Moore

"Brew Moore"

*

Brew Moore

Fantasy LP 3-264; Original Jazz Classics OJC 049

Re-issued on CD on May 10, 2012, with Brew Moore Quintet, as West Coast Brew (Fresh Sound Records FSR 705)

Guaraldi track recorded August 28, 1955; album released in spring 1958


Guaraldi pops up on only one cut on this album from saxman Brew Moore, but you'd scarcely notice. Five of the tracks were recorded in a studio with different personnel; the sixth, "Dues Blues," was taken from an August 1955 concert at UC Berkeley, which (as noted above) features Moore on tenor sax, Cal Tjader on vibes, Bobby White on drums, Eddie Duran on guitar, Bob Collins on trombone, Dean Reilly on bass, and Guaraldi on piano. Alas, it's a frustrating cut for Guaraldi fans; although it runs a healthy 7 minutes and 10 seconds, it gives lengthy solos to Tjader, Moore and Reilly ... but not Vince! You can hear his piano chops clearly only once, at the very beginning of the cut, when he contributes a sassy little intro; the rest of the time, Guaraldi only lends faint support in the background. Perhaps more frustrating is the notion that somewhere, somebody must've recorded this entire concert ... but (thus far) only two tracks have been released: this one, and a second that was stuck just as arbitrarily on a second Brew Moore album (see previous entry). Major bummer! Again, this one's only for Guaraldi completists.

We can only imagine that Guaraldi was more evident on some of the septet's other numbers. Somewhere, the Fantasy/Concord vaults may hold the master tapes for the complete UC Berkeley concert; jazz fans can only hope that somebody, some day, resurrects them ... thus providing an opportunity to enjoy a Guaraldi original, "One Man's Famine," that never has appeared -- or been heard -- elsewhere.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.

Personnel:
Brew Moore -- sax
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Dean Reilly -- bass
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Bob Collins -- trombone
Bobby White -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Dues Blues"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Blues Groove

"Blues Groove"

**

Woody Herman

Capitol T784

Contents issued as part of The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman (Mosaic MD6-196)

Guaraldi sessions recorded May 15-16, 1956; album released February 1957


Guaraldi replaced pianist Nat Pierce for one season on the road with Woody Herman's third "thundering herd," and this is the only studio album released with his participation in that group. No fewer than 20 musicians are listed in this band, and Guaraldi fans will recognize bassist Monty Budwig, soon to become a regular member of Vince's own trio. Two of the album's cuts, recorded on December 1, 1955, don't feature Guaraldi at all. Of the remaining cuts, recorded on May 16, 1956, Vince's piano cannot be distinguished at all on four of the seven...but he does come through, loud and clear, on the remaining three.

Guaraldi delivers a bouncy (if brief) little intro to "Dupree Blues," and has a great boogie-woogie solo at the beginning of "Pinetop's Blues." He really shines during the album's final cut, "Blues Groove," with a good solo in the middle, a nice introduction, and solid piano riffs during the entire cut. ("Blues Groove" is, alas, the album's sole instrumental. Woody Herman sings on all the others ... more's the pity.)

Two more tracks -- "5-10-15 Hours" and "I Don't Want Nobody (To Have My Love But You)" -- were recorded during the same session. The first can be found on the next entry; the second was paired on a 45 single (Capitol 3488) with "To Love Again," which was recorded a month earlier, during a New York session -- also with Guaraldi -- that produced four tracks (but no album). "To Love Again" also had been released on an earlier 45 single (Capitol 1578) along with a second song from that New York session, "You Took Advantage of Me."

Although this LP hasn't yet been issued on CD, its contents can be found on the 6-CD set from Mosaic, The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman (see next entry).

Personnel:
Woody Herman -- clarinet, vocals
John Coppola, Dick Collins, Burt Collins, Dud Harvey, Bill Castagnino -- trumpets
Wayne Andre, Bill Harris, Bob Lamb -- trombone
Richie Kamuca, Bob Hardaway, Arno Marsh -- tenor sax
Jay Cameron -- baritone sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Ray Biondi -- guitar
Monty Budwig -- bass
Gus Gustafson -- drums
Victor Feldman -- vibes, congas

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Blues Groove"
"Call It Stormy Monday"
"Dupree Blues"
"I Want a Little Girl"
"Pinetop's Blues"
"Smack Dab in the Middle"
"Trouble in Mind"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman

"The Complete Capitol Recordings of Woody Herman"

**

Woody Herman

No LP release

Mosaic MD6-196

Recorded during numerous sessions from 1944 to 1956; finally released on CD in 2000


As far as Guaraldi fans are concerned, this six-CD set's primary draw is that it includes all the tracks from Blues Groove, above, which hasn't been released separately on CD.

But there is a bonus: The set has numerous previously unreleased tracks, and disc 5 has six that feature Guaraldi's participation in the Third Herd, as mentioned in the previous entry: "You Took Advantage of Me," "For All We Know," "Wonderful One," "To Love Again," "5-10-15 Hours" and "I Don't Want Nobody (To Have My Love But You)." The first four were recorded during a studio session in March 1956, right before Guaraldi went on the road with Woody Herman's Third Thundering Herd; the remaining two were "leftovers" from the sessions that produced Blues Groove.

"For All We Know" and "To Love Again" are done as ballads, the former highlighting Feldman's vibes, the latter Herman's mellow vocal, behind which Guaraldi's keyboard can be heard, supplying gentle counterpoint. "Wonderful One" and "You Took Advantage of Me" are mid-tempo instrumental swingers, and the latter grants Guaraldi a 10-second solo: not much to write home about, but enough to demonstrate his presence.

"5-10-15 Hours," a bluesy stomper, best showcases Vince's keyboard chops, since he contributes lively piano counterpoint behind Woody's vocal throughout most of the cut; the piano work is quite a kick, and watching the two of them in person obviously would have been a hoot.

Guaraldi's contribution to "I Don't Want Nobody (To Have My Love But You)" is minimal; you'd be hard-pressed to be certain he was even present.

Personnel:
Too many to name

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Blues Groove"
"Call It Stormy Monday"
"Dupree Blues"
"5-10-15 Hours"
"I Don't Want Nobody (To Have My Love But You)"
"For All We Know"
"I Want a Little Girl"
"Pinetop's Blues"
"Smack Dab in the Middle"
"To Love Again"
"Trouble in Mind"
"Wonderful One"
"You Took Advantage of Me"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Woody Herman and his Orchestra: 1956

"Woody Herman and his Orchestra: 1956"

**

Woody Herman

No LP release

Storyville Records [Denmark] STCD 8247/48

Recorded July 28-29, 1956; finally released on CD in 2000


Woody Herman and his "third herd" of 17 sidemen embarked on an extensive road trip during the summer of 1956, performing everywhere from Chicago to New Jersey, and then at a club called The Lagoon, in Utah's Salt Lake City. Guaraldi was one of those sidemen, and this double-CD set's 41 tracks go a long way toward demonstrating what it must have been like, back in the day, to be in a hall dominated by this much big band sound.

Unfortunately, Guaraldi's piano wasn't miked very well, and -- even when he's the only guy playing -- you'll have to boost the volume to catch his keyboard work (and then risk deafness when the other instruments kick back in). You simply can't hear him at all on most of these tracks, although brief piano noodlings can be detected at the beginning of "These Foolish Things," "Buttercup," "After Theater Jump" and "Pimlico." Guaraldi gets some short solos midway through "Autobahn Blues" and "Square Circle," and he has room to breathe a bit more during "Woodchopper's Ball."

Guaraldi's best efforts shine in four other tracks: "Opus De Funk," which opens with a very slick boogie-woogie solo that runs a full minute; "Country Cousin," which affords him a brief intro and then a longish solo halfway through; and "Wild Root," which lives up to its name when Guaraldi whirls through a particularly lively solo. By far the best, however, is "Pinetop's Blues," which is dominated by Vince's kick-ass boogie-woogie work behind Woody's amusing vocal. This track gives clear evidence of the keyboard chops that soon would make Guaraldi a much more famous -- and visible -- part of Cal Tjader's band.

Personnel:
Woody Herman -- clarinet, vocals
John Coppola, Dick Collins, Burt Collins, Dud Harvey, Bill Castagnino -- trumpets
Wayne Andre, Bill Harris, Bob Lamb -- trombone
Richie Kamuca, Bob Hardaway, Arno Marsh -- tenor sax
Jay Cameron -- baritone sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Ray Biondi -- guitar
Monty Budwig -- bass
Gus Gustafson -- drums
Victor Feldman -- vibes, congas

Track listing:
"After Theater Jump"
"Apple Honey"
"Autobahn Blues"
"Baby Shoes"
"Ballad Medley: Ill Wind/Chez Moi"
"Bijou"
"Blue Flame (Theme)"
"Buck Dance"
"Buttercup"
"Captain Ahab"
"Country Cousin"
"Darn That Dream"
"Early Autumn"
"For All We Know"
"Four Brothers"
"The Girl Upstairs"
"I Want a Little Girl"
"Imagination"
"The Midnight Sun Never Sets"
"Misty Morning"
"Opus De Funk"
"Our Love Is Here to Stay"
"Phineas in Vienna"
"Pimlico"
"Pinetop's Blues"
"The Preacher"
"Skinned Again"
"Sleepy Serenade"
"Square Circle"
"Stardust"
"Starlight Souvenirs"
"The Stars Fell on Alabama"
"These Foolish Things"
"Trouble in Mind"
"Try to Forget"
"When Lights Are Low"
"Wild Root"
"Woodchopper's Ball"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Cal Tjader Quintet at Club Macumba

"The Cal Tjader Quintet Live at Club Macumba"

***

The Cal Tjader Quintet

No LP release

Acrobat Jazz ADDCD3084

Recorded live September 3-16 or October 2-28, 1956, at the Macumba Club in San Francisco; released December 11, 2012


These two mostly up-tempo sets were recorded live San Francisco's Macumba Club in late 1956. The precise dates are unknown; Tjader's quintet was booked September 3-16 and then again October 2-28, so it's possible one set was recorded during the September run, while the second came in October. Or some other combination therein. The original tapes are part of what is known as the Ackerman Collection, an archive of jazz recordings made during the 1950s and '60s, and assembled by broadcaster Ken Ackerman, beloved as the voice of the "Music Till Dawn" show on KCBS. As sometimes happens with such things, the collection was stored away and then mostly forgotten, until being "rescued" by San Francisco Traditional Jazz Federation members William Carter and Dave Radlauer. They, in turn, donated everything to Stanford University's Archive of Recorded Sound in November 2007. Cataloguing and restoration have allowed bits to be released commercially; this double-CD set is one such example.

Each set runs roughly 46 minutes, including some quite amusing banter between numbers, accompanied by plenty of keyboard noodling from Guaraldi. Both sets feature six songs, most quite lengthy arrangements, with three -- Tjader's "Bill B," Dizzy Gillespie's "Guarachi Guaro" and the ballad "For Heaven's Sake" -- present in each set. This duplication supports the belief that the recordings were made on separate evenings.

These late summer/early autumn Club Macumba dates essentially introduced Tjader's new combo, which also included Eugene "Gene" Wright on bass, Luis Kant on congas, and Al Torre on drums. As it happens, Torre spends most of his time playing either bongos or timbales on these recordings; his standard drum sound is evident only on "Bill B." With Kant adding his Cuban sizzle on congas, the dominant style here is heavily Latin, heavily mambo-oriented, and heavily percussive. Although Guaraldi enjoys quite a few dynamic solos, he also spends considerable time repeating two-bar phrases over and over and over again. Some listeners find this exciting; I confess to not being among them. The style simply doesn't showcase Guaraldi's melodic talents. His aggressive piano chops definitely are worth an admiring whistle, but the result often sounds more like a percussive exercise than a tune.

Straight-ahead jazz fans are most likely to appreciate his efforts on both versions of "Bill B." Guaraldi delivers a great solo -- running well over two minutes -- on the first disc's version (which also features lovely bass work by Wright), and then swings like mad at a slightly slower tempo, for more than three minutes, on the second disc's version. He contributes only gentle shading on both versions of "For Heaven's Sake," and comps nicely behind Tjader's vibes on "The Lady Is a Tramp," before launching into some lively give-and-take with Torre and Kant.

Both versions of "Philadelphia Mambo" are rather redundant, but even here, Guaraldi's midpoint solos roar all over the keyboard. He may not be delivering "melody" in the usual sense, but he's hitting more notes -- always with intriguing harmonics -- than the next three pianists might be able to cram in. He goes positively crazy, amid much verbal encouragement, during both versions of "Guarachi Guaro" (which Tjader re-titled and re-recorded as "Soul Sauce," years later).

"Mambo at the M" isn't terribly interesting until Guaraldi takes over, about four minutes in, and then he cooks until the number concludes, once again battling for supremacy against Torre and Kant. Guaraldi doesn't deliver much oomph in Tjader's "Mamblues," but the feisty pianist rises to the challenge again during a mambo-inflected cover of the standard "Lullaby of Birdland."

The percussive give-and-take notwithstanding, though, I'm most enchanted by the always cleverly harmonic comping Guaraldi does behind Tjader's vibes, particularly during quieter moments. They truly were a great team.

The sound quality is surprisingly good, particularly since these sets likely were recorded by a reel-to-reel machine that was set up and left alone. Background fuzz is present, but not intrusively so; I've heard worse on some of Fantasy's professionally recorded live albums.

The liner notes are dominated by Paul Watts' lengthy, informative and highly enjoyable essay.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Gene Wright -- bass
Luis Kant -- congas
Al Torre -- drums

Track listing:
"Bill B." [twice]
"For Heaven's Sake" [twice]
"Guarachi Guaro" [twice]
"The Lady Is a Tramp"
"Lullabye of Birdland"
"Mamblues"
"Mambo at the M"
"Philadelphia Mambo" [twice]

Guaraldi compositions: (none)



Gus Mancuso

"Introducing Gus Mancuso"

***

Gus Mancuso

Fantasy 3-233

Re-issued on CD, paired with Gus Mancuso Quintet: Music from New Faces, as Gus Mancusco and Special Friends (Fantasy FCD-24762-2)

Guaraldi session recorded in November 1956, in San Francisco; album released March 1957


Cal Tjader bumped into Gus Mancuso during a Las Vegas gig, and subsequently encouraged Fantasy Records to make an album featuring the baritone horn player (an instrument rarely heard outside of marching bands). Three sessions were set up, one in Los Angeles and two in San Francisco, and the result was Mancuso's first album. Guaraldi participated in one of the San Francisco sessions -- along with Tjader (drums), Richie Kamuca (tenor sax) and Gene Wright (bass) -- and thus contributed to three of the songs on this release: "Brother Aintz," "And Baby Makes Three" and "A Hatful of Dandruff."

Guaraldi is granted an extended solo on "Brother Aintz," a swinging up-tempo piece that doesn't quit; his accompaniment on "And Baby Makes Three" is quieter, as befits this gentle number that was penned by Tjader's wife, Pat. Guaraldi roars back into the foreground during "A Hatful of Dandruff," which boasts enough of his signature piano work -- no surprise, since he wrote the tune -- that it's practically a star performance.

" 'A Hatful of Dandruff,' " Gleason writes in his liner notes, "is a brisk riff on which Vince, Gus and Richie each speaks a piece."

Gus Mancuso and Special Friends



Gleason already was a big fan of Guaraldi's when he wrote the first album's liner notes. Guaraldi had no part of Gus Mancuso Quintet: Music from New Faces.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.






Personnel:
Gus Mancuso -- baritone horn
Richie Kamuca -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Gene Wright -- bass
Cal Tjader -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"And Baby Makes Three"
"Brother Aintz"
"A Hatful of Dandruff"

Guaraldi compositions:
"A Hatful of Dandruff"


Jazz at the Blackhawk

"Jazz at the Blackhawk"

*****

The Cal Tjader Quartet

Fantasy LP 3-241, LP 8096; Original Jazz Classics OJC 436, OJCCD 436-2

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-436-2

Recorded live January 20, 1957, at the Blackhawk in San Francisco; released May 1957


This gorgeous live session, which lacks any of the Latin flavor that marked most of Tjader's work during this period, instead concentrates on straight-ahead jazz. The fidelity is crisp and clear, and it remains one of Tjader's best live albums in an intimate setting, and with a small group Vince Guaraldi (piano), Gene Wright (bass) and Al Torre (drums). Although Luis Kant was a member of Tjader's quintet when this album was recorded, the bandleader wanted a straight-ahead set list, so Kant and his congas sat out. The quality is crisp and clear, and the album remains one of Tjader’s best live recordings in an intimate setting.

Tjader's vibes dominate, but Guaraldi shines during several cuts, notably with quiet solos in "Bill B." and "Land's End." His introduction to "When the Sun Comes Out" is lyrical and positively haunting, and he picks up the pace with some energetic riffs in a spirited cover of "I'll Remember April."

" 'When the Sun Comes Out' is really a piano solo with accompaniment by the group," Gleason suggests, in his liner notes, "and Guaraldi, usually known for his stomping, two-handed, swinging piano, displays another facet of his personality with a sensitive, thoughtful interpretation."

Guaraldi's finest moment, however, comes during a smooth extended solo in an homage tune he penned, "Thinking of You, MJQ." Gleason suggests that this affectionate tribute to the Modern Jazz Quartet was "tongue-in-cheek," but the tune sounds more like honest admiration.

If you're seeking a great example of Guaraldi's best work prior to the sessions with his own trio, you won't want to miss this disc.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings (monaural) of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red. The first pressings of the stereo version (8096) were released in 1962, on blue vinyl.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Gene Wright -- bass
Al Torre -- drums

Track listing:
"Bill B."
"Blues in the Night"
"I'll Remember April"
"I've Never Been in Love Before"
"Land's End"
"Lover, Come Back to Me"
"Thinking of You, MJQ"
"Two for Blues Suite"
"When the Sun Comes Out"
[A compilation LP -- Dave Brubeck Quartet/Paul Desmond Quartet/Cal Tjader (Crown Records CLP-5288) -- includes "another" track from this session titled "Jazz Latino," but it's actually "Bill B." under a different name.]

Guaraldi compositions:
"Thinking of You, MJQ"


Delightfully Light

"Delightfully Light: Cal Tjader Quartets/Red Norvo Trios"

***

The Cal Tjader Quartet

Jazztone J1277

Re-issued on CD (CD on demand, to be precise) in August 2011

Recorded live January 20, 1957, at the Blackhawk in San Francisco


Three of the tracks on this compilation album are lifted directly from the previous Fantasy album, Live at the Blackhawk. They're joined by two tracks taken from a different Tjader album, and five tracks taken from two Red Norvo albums. There's no new material here, and thus no reason for Guaraldi fans to seek this album.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Gene Wright -- bass
Al Torre -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Blues in the Night"
"Lover, Come Back to Me"
"Thinking of You, MJQ"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Thinking of You, MJQ"


Sessions Live: Cal Tjader and Chico Hamilton

"Sessions, Live: Cal Tjader and Chico Hamilton"

***

The Cal Tjader Quintet

Calliope CAL 3011

Never issued on CD (and not likely to be)

Recorded February 11, 1957; finally released in 1976


Stars of Jazz began as a local program on KABC in Los Angeles in 1956. The half-hour show, hosted by Bobby Troup, gave the spotlight to various jazz musicians or groups; after some introductory remarks by Troup and a brief chat with the week's guest(s), everybody would sit back and enjoy a short concert. (Imagine being in that studio audience, week after week!) The show did well in the Los Angeles market, and the ABC network decided to give it a try in prime time. A six-week trial run began April 18, 1958; it proved successful enough for ABC to extend the series through November of the same year.

The Cal Tjader Quintet was featured on February 11, 1957, and delivered a set of four songs that mostly showcases Tjader. Guaraldi can be heard in the background, but his contributions are little more than shading behind Tjader's vibes. The one exception is "Bernie's Tune," a rousing Latin bopper that allows everybody to shine; Guaraldi tears through a respectable solo before handing things back off to Tjader. Sadly, the fourth and final song, "Jammin'," fades out before concluding; one assumes Troupe may have started talking again, as the show drew to its close, and the music for the LP was cut off before these remarks could be heard.

The Tjader Quintet's four tracks on this LP are accompanied by three tracks by the Chico Hamilton Quintet, two by vocalist Georgia Carr and her band, and one by vocalist Shirley Saunders and her band.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Gene Wright -- bass
Al Torre -- drums
Luis Kant -- congas

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Lover Come Back to Me"
"The Night We Called It a Day"
"Bernie's Tune"
"Jammin'"

Guaraldi compositions:
None



Cal Tjader

"Cal Tjader"

****

The Cal Tjader Quartet

Fantasy 3-253; 3313, 8084

Re-issued on CD, with Tjader's Concert on the Campus, as Cal Tjader: Our Blues (Fantasy FCD-24771-2)

Recorded April 10, 11 and 15, 1957; released January 1958


Hot on the heels of his live date at The Blackhawk, Cal Tjader assembled the same crew -- Vince Guaraldi (piano), Gene Wright (bass) and Al Torre (drums) -- for this gorgeous studio album, which is another of the lovely "gentle swingers" Tjader and Guaraldi did together. The album starts off with a superb 11-minute medley from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, which gives Vince a nice solo during his melodic presentation of "Strawberry Woman." Guaraldi truly shines on a few other cuts, though, most notably with a peppy solo in "Our Blues" (apparently written by "P. Tjader" and "S. Guaraldi," according to Fantasy's liner notes; that would be Cal's wife, Patricia -- a jazz pianist in her own right -- and Vince's wife, Shirley) and a lively contribution to "And Baby Makes Three."

Guaraldi also dominates during a gently swinging rendition of "Willow Weep for Me" in another medley; the pianist would record his own trio's version of this same song the same year, on the album A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing. Finally, Vince gets an extended solo during the final track, "Line for Lyons," and then handles a playful give-and-take with Wright's bass.

This Tjader release is precisely the sort of album that comes to mind when trying to describe the evolving West Coast Jazz scene to folks: sweet, tasty and toe-tappin' all the way.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings (monaural) of this album -- which sported a different cover -- were released on colored vinyl, in this case red (see below left). The 1961 monaural reissue, with the cover shown above, also was on red vinyl. The first pressings of the stereo version (8084) were on blue vinyl.

Original cover front Our Blues

This album has been paired with Tjader's Concert on the Campus on the Fantasy compilation CD Our Blues (FCD-24771-2), but completists be warned: Because of space limitations, one track from Concert on the Campus -- "Rezo" -- was not included.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Gene Wright -- bass
Al Torre -- drums

Track listing:
"And Baby Makes Three"
"Line for Lyons"
"Medley: Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)/Willow Weep for Me/'Round Midnight"
"Medley: Summertime/Bess, You Is My Woman Now/Strawberry Woman"
"Our Blues"
"That's All"
"When Lights Are Low"

Guaraldi compositions:
None
["Our Blues" is co-credited to Pat Tjader and Shirley Guaraldi, the two musicians' wives.]


West Coast Jazz

"West Coast Jazz in Hifi"

***

Richie Kamuca/Bill Holman

Hi Fi Jazz R-604

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-1760-2

Recorded May 26-27, 1957, in Los Angeles; released November 1957


Although tenor and baritone sax players Richie Kamuca and Bill Holman get the "name credit" on this album, they're really no more or less prominent than any of the other members of this assembled octet, which also includes Frank Rosolino (trombone), Conte Candoli and Ed Leddy (trumpets), Stan Levey (drums), Monty Budwig (bass) and Guaraldi (piano). The group was put together by jazz buff Tony Jacobs, who wanted an album of cuts by the "musician's musicians" of the West Coast jazz movement. (It originally was titled Jazz Erotica when first released in 1957, on the HiFi label.) The result, thanks to being heavy on sax and trumpet, sounds more like a compact version of the classic Big Band swing of the late 1940s and early '50s, as opposed to the West Coast movement that matured a few years later, but it's still great fun.

Thanks to the original practice of "separating" specific instruments to different channels, Guaraldi's efforts are confined to one speaker, but he's very much a part of every one of these 10 cuts: at the least contributing background support with solid chords and noodly little riffs, at the most moving to the foreground with some smooth solos. The cuts showing Guaraldi to best advantage are "I Hadn't Anyone Till You," "Linger Awhile," "If You Were No One" and "Blue Jazz." The latter includes a great little give-and-take with Budwig, soon to become a regular in Guaraldi's own trio. He and Budwig also share the spotlight with drummer Stan Levey in "Star Eyes," which features a brief interlude that sounds very much like the "Guaraldi sound" the pianist would perfect during the next five years. The whole gang builds to a rousing finish with an up-tempo version of "Indiana," which also allows Vince an exciting (if brief) solo.

Jazz Erotica

Take note: As mentioned above, this album originally was released under the title Jazz Erotica, perhaps to justify an LP cover that was far more enticing. (The music contained herein certainly cannot be regarded as seductive.) Although quickly re-titled and re-released in 1959 as the more mainstream-friendly West Coast Jazz in Hifi -- a title that also took advantage of the cachet generated by the pseudo-genre "West Coast jazz" -- the original LP art was revived for an overseas CD release. In the interests of completeness, it's shown here, as well.

Perhaps because of that re-issue and the new name, the Fantasy re-issue CD incorrectly claims that the session was recorded in 1959. This is patently false; published reviews of Jazz Erotica in early 1958 more correctly point to a recording date in mid-1957, as does the fact that Guaraldi had just worked with many of the same Los Angeles-based musicians on the two albums cited above.


Personnel:
Frank Rosolino -- trombone
Bill Hollman -- bartitone sax
Richie Kamuca -- tenor sax
Conte Candoli, Ed Leddy -- trumpet
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Stan Levey -- drums

Track listing:
"Angel Eyes"
"Blue Jazz"
"I Hadn't Anyone Till You"
"Indiana"
"It's You or No One" [incorrectly listed as "If You Were No One"]
"Linger Awhile"
"Star Eyes"
"Stella by Starlight"
"The Things We Did Last Summer"
"Way Down Under"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


The Legend of Frank Rosolino

"The Legend of Frank Rosolino"

***

The Frank Rosolino Quintet

Mode MOD-LP #107

Re-issued on CD as Mode MZCS-1166 and VSOP #16

Recorded June 1957, in Hollywood; released July 1957


Trombonist Frank Rosolino was known just as much for his signature sense of humor as his fast jazz chops, and he parlayed both into a successful stint with the Stan Kenton Band, and a five-year run with Howard Rumsey's All Stars at The Lighthouse, the famed Hermosa Beach jazz joint. When it came time to record his own album, Rosolino brought some friends along: Richie Kamuca (tenor sax), Vince Guaraldi (piano), Monty Budwig (bass) and Stan Levey (drums). The resulting eight cuts make pleasant listening, although the arrangements aren't nearly as lively as those on the Conte Candoli album recorded the same month, at the same studio.

Guaraldi gets ample opportunity for solos on all eight of these cuts, although his dynamic riffs are most evident on "Let's Make It," "Fallout" and "Tuffy." Vince's mood turns more softly melodic on "They Say" and "Thou Swell," and he has an enjoyable give-and-take with Budwig (soon to be a member of his own trio) on "Cherry."
Frank Rosolino Quintet



For much later release on CD, the album's title was shortened to the simpler -- and certainly less droll -- Frank Rosolino Quintet.

To this day, many of Rosolino's fans regard this as the trombonist's finest album, and it certainly displays plenty of soulful swing.





Four of these tracks wound up on the Coronet Nina Simone/Vince Guaraldi compilation album; see below.]

Personnel:
Frank Rosolino -- trombone
Richie Kamuca -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Stan Levey -- drums

Track listing:
"Cherry"
"Fallout"
"Fine Shape"
"How Long Has This Been Going On"
"Let's Make It"
"They Say"
"Thou Swell"
"Tuffy"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Nina Simone Live

"Nina Simone Live"

**

Nina Simone

Coronet CXS-242

Never issued on CD (and not likely to be)

Guaraldi session recorded in June 1957


Those who love mysteries will appreciate this one.

Despite what you might think from the cover, Nina Simone and Vince Guaraldi don't work together on this one. Side A has five Simone songs, recorded live in Atlantic City in 1956. As this wasn't enough to fill an album, five tracks by George Wallington were put on the B side when first released in mono on the Spinorama label, several years after Simone's star had begun to rise (and well after her actual LP debut, 1959's The Amazing Nina Simone). The album later was re-released in stereo on the Coronet label (both Spinorama and Coronet were divisions of Premier Albums Inc.), and the Wallington cuts were replaced by four cuts credited as "Vince Guaraldi plays": "Fine Shapes" [sic]," "Let's Make It," "Fallout" and "They Said" [sic].

Personnel aren't listed, and a neophyte approaching the four tracks that represent Guaraldi's "half" would be hard-pressed to be certain he was the one on piano. Fortunately, it's easy to do a track-by-track comparison with the Frank Rosolino album cited directly above, which solves the mystery.

So, aside from the novelty of the cover image, there's nothing on this LP that Guaraldi fans can't get elsewhere.

Personnel:
Frank Rosolino -- trombone
Richie Kamuca -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Stan Levey -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Fallout"
"Fine Shape" [incorrected listed as "Fine Shapes"]
"Let's Make It"
"They Say" [incorrectly listed as "They Said"]

Guaraldi compositions: (none)



Conte Candoli Quartet

"Conte Candoli Quartet"

***

The Conte Candoli Quartet

Mode MOD-LP #109

Re-issued on CD as Mode MZCS-1165 and Music Visions (Japan) TFCL-88915

Recorded June 1957, in Hollywood; released October 1957


This lively bop session, dominated by trumpeter Conte Candoli, features eight cuts in a swinging, straight-ahead jazz style with Vince Guaraldi (piano), Monty Budwig (bass) and Stan Levey (drums). Candoli, a generous group leader, gives his sidemen ample opportunity to shine on each cut, and Guaraldi takes full advantage. Highlights include his strong, two-fisted attack on "Something for Liza," "Mediolistic," "Tara Ferma" and "Mambo Blues."

Vince shifts gears for this album's cover of "Flamingo," and his support here is as lovely and rhythmic as the cut itself, certainly one of the best readings I've ever heard of this jazz standard. Guaraldi and Budwig (soon to be a member of Vince's own trio) have a lot of fun trading solos in "Walkie Talkie."

"Piano is under the capable hands of young Vince Guaraldi," acknowledges Joe Quinn, in his liner notes, "whose two-fisted attack has earned for him the immediate respect of music men."

The result is a bit old-fashioned, but great fun.

Personnel:
Conte Candoli -- trumpet
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Stan Levey -- drums

Track listing: "Diane"
"Flamingo"
"Mambo Blues"
"Mediolistic"
"No Moon at All"
"Something for Liza"
"Tara Ferma"
"Walkie Talkie"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Black Orchid

"Cal Tjader Goes Latin"

***

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3-289, 8030

Re-issued on CD, paired with Cal Tjader Quintet, as Black Orchid (Fantasy FCD-24730-2-2)

Guaraldi sessions recorded September 10, 1957, and December 1958 (the latter live at the Blackhawk, in San Francisco); released August 1959


Guaraldi participated in three of the four sessions that comprise this album. The highlights are four absolutely gorgeous numbers -- "Close Your Eyes," "Contigo," "Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe" and "Out of Nowhere" -- that showcase Vince and tenor sax player Jose "Chombo" Silva; even Tjader holds back. These are quieter tunes, along the lines of ballads or somber laments, and feature some of the prettiest support Guaraldi ever delivered as a sideman.

One of the other recording sessions, however, may have contributed to Guaraldi's growing displeasure with the degree to which his piano was becoming less a melodic part of the Tjader band's foreground sound, and more a percussive element of the background rhythm section: sometimes wholly submerged beneath the drums and, in particular, Luis Kant's congas. During this particular studio session, Al Torre's standard drums were replaced by newcomer Bayardo "Benny" Velarde on timbales, in addition to Kant's congas. Jerry Lordan's "I've Waited So Long" still possesses echoes of its balladic origins, but "Mambo at the M," a Kant original, is less a "song" in the traditional sense, and more a hard-driving rhythmic experience better suited to frantic dance moves.

In both cases, Guaraldi mostly supplies extravagant runs and repetitious keyboard "shading" that have little to do with melody.

The pianist also found minimal joy during his third studio session, which produced a lively arrangement of "The Lady Is a Tramp" and a droll Santamaria original dubbed "Guajira at the Blackhawk," the latter acknowledging the club that had become such an important part of Tjader's career. Both these tracks also focused heavily on the congas and bongos.

Black Orchid



This album and Cal Tjader Quintet have been packaged together on a Fantasy CD titled Black Orchid. Six songs out of 21 doesn't necessarily justify purchasing this disc, but the aforementioned four tracks are guaranteed to be enjoyed by staunch Guaraldi fans.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings (monaural) of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red. The first pressings of the stereo version were on blue vinyl.



A 45 single was released (Fantasy 540), with "I've Waited So Long" and "As I Love You." The latter, you'll note, is not included on the LP, and never has been re-issued after its appearance on the 45.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Jose "Chombo" Silva -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al MiKibbon, Eugene Wright -- bass
Mongo Santamaria, Luis Kant -- conga drums
Willie Bobo, Bayardo "Benny" Velarde -- timbales, drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Close Your Eyes"
"Contigo"
"Guajira at the Blackhawk" (probably)
"Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe"
"I've Waited So Long"
"The Lady Is a Tramp" (probably)
"Mambo at the M"
"Out of Nowhere"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Los Ritmos Calientes

"Mas Ritmo Caliente"

*

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3-262, 8003

Re-issued on CD, paired with Ritmo Caliente, as Los Ritmos Calientes (Fantasy FCD-24712-2)

Guaraldi sessions recorded September 10, October 11 and November 20, 1957; released April 1958


Guaraldi wasn't among the musicians assembled for Ritmo Caliente, which was recorded in March 1954 and November 1955 ... and you'd never really know he's part of Mas Ritmo Caliente, despite his participation on all 10 tracks. Aside from Tjader's prominent vibes and timbales, the rest of this sound is dominated by the heavy Latin influences of conga, bongos, gourds, cowbells and all sorts of other distractions. Guaraldi spends most of his time laying down a (deliberately) redundant background beat -- known as a montuno -- which quickly will bore fans attempting to concentrate on Vince's keyboards. Tjader's fans may find something to enjoy, but only Guaraldi completists need apply.

Tjader's "Cuco on Timbales" focuses on Armando Sanchez -- no surprise, given the title -- and finds Guaraldi playing the same three chords over and over again, ad nauseum. He does the same on Armando Peraza's equally redundant "Ritmo Africano." The 53-second "Ritmo Rumba" doesn't even qualify as a song; it's no more than a bongo riff by Peraza. And while "Big Noise from Winnetka" is a bit more interesting, it's still dominated by conga and bongos, leaving Guaraldi -- and Tjader -- very little to do. The sextet's reading of "Poinciana Cha Cha," in great contrast, rachets down the tempo, mutes the percussion and allows Tjader to lay down the song's lovely melody. Guaraldi is limited to quiet comping in the background.

The combo has a lot of fun with the familiar theme in "Perdido," which is arranged in the more traditional manner of a big band number; Jose Silva's sax dominates, but generous melodic solos are granted to Tjader and Guaraldi. The similarly recognized melody of "Perfidia Cha Cha" grants solos to Tjader, Guaraldi, Silva and Gerald Sanfino's flute, all played atop the band's stair-stepping, four-chord backdrop.

Finally, despite a pleasantly moody opening and nice solos from Silva and Guaraldi, the Mongo Santamaria original "Mongorama" -- as might be expected -- becomes little more than an interminable conga exercise.

Original cover front Los Ritmos Calientes

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings (monaural) of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red. The first pressings of the stereo version were on blue vinyl. An alternate cover, above left, also was used.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Jose "Chombo" Silva -- tenor sax
Gerald Sanfino -- alto sax, flute
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Bobby Rodriguez, Eugene Wright, Al McKibbon -- bass
Luis Kant -- gourd, cowbell, conga
Armando Peraza -- conga, bongos
Ramon "Mongo" Santamaria -- conga
Willie Bobo, Bayardo "Benny" Velarde, Armando "Cuco" Sanchez -- timbales
Al Torre -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Armando's Hideaway"
"Big Noise from Winnetka"
"Cuco on Timbales"
"Mongorama"
"Perdido"
"Perfidia Cha Cha"
"Poinciana Cha Cha"
"Ritmo Africano"
"Ritmo Rumba"
"Tumbao"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Jazz Confidential

"Jazz Confidential"

*

Various artists

Crown CLP-5056

Never released on CD (and not likely to be)

Guaraldi session recorded January 20, 1957; album released February 1958


Here's a novelty: a 1958 anthology LP that features a multitude of late 1950s jazz stars, each of them fronting different combos, and each contributing a single track ... although the album cover fails to identify who plays which track. The Who's Who includes everybody from Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Shelly Manne to Errol Garner, Red Norvo and Ben Webster. Cal Tjader's quartet also is represented by one track.

But caveat emptor: Although the track in question, "Journey's End," seems to be new, this is merely a mis-titled "Land's End," one of the cues recorded for Tjader's Jazz at the Blackhawk album, lifted without so much as a by-your-leave, and given a different title here.

Just to make historians tear out even more of their hair, this same mistitled single track later re-surfaced on another anthology album, Jazz All Stars (see later entry).

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Dean Reilly -- bass
Bobby White -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Journey's End" [sic]

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Cal Tjader/Stan Getz

"The Cal Tjader/Stan Getz Sextet"

**

Cal Tjader, Stan Getz

Fantasy 3-266 and 8005, 3-348 and 8348; Original Jazz Classics OJC 275, OJCCD 275-2

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-275

Recorded February 8, 1958; released in late spring/early summer 1958


Jazz historians and Stan Getz/Cal Tjader fans will love this album, but it doesn't show Vince Guaraldi to very good advantage; the pianist is all but lost among the swinging sound from Getz (tenor sax), Tjader (vibraphone), Eddie Duran (guitar), Scott LaFaro (bass) and Billy Higgins (drums). Guaraldi supplies little more than background on five of these seven cuts; the two exceptions are "Crow's Nest," on which he delivers strong work -- a "dirty solo," according to the album's liner notes -- and his own "Ginza Samba" (making its first recorded appearance; compare this to the version with Bola Sete, on From All Sides), a ferocious, 11-minute jam session that truly deserves to be called exciting, and must've made the guys in the control booth roar. Everybody gets an extended solo on this up-tempo track, which starts out fiercely and just gets better.

In a different, softer vein, the group's reading of the ballad "I've Grown Accustomed to her Face" is a breathtaking showcase for Getz, LaFaro and Duran.

Despite the modified title, the core melody of "Ginza Samba" is identical to that of Guaraldi's "Ginza," recorded earlier on Modern Music from San Francisco. This wouldn't be the last time Guaraldi would assign a "new" title to one of his own compositions: a quirk destined to puzzle future discographers.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings (monaural) of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red. The first pressings of the stereo version were on red and blue vinyl.

Stan Getz/Cal Tjader



Following Guaraldi's success with his Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus album in 1962, Fantasy re-issued this album with a new cover that included the pianist's name, while highlighting Getz over Tjader. The first-pressing discs were red (monaural) and blue (stereo). At this point, in April 1963, a 45 single was released (Fantasy 566X), pairing Guaraldi's original composition -- "Ginza Samba" -- with "For All We Know."






Personnel:
Stan Getz -- tenor sax
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Scott LaFaro -- bass
Billy Higgins -- drums

Track listing:
"Big Bear"
"Crow's Nest"
"For All We Know"
"Ginza Samba"
"I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"
"Liz-Anne"
"My Buddy"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Ginza Samba"


Sessions Live: Cal Tjader, Chris Connor and Paul Togawa

"Sessions, Live: Cal Tjader, Chris Connor and Paul Togawa"

**

The Cal Tjader Quintet

Calliope CAL 3002

Never issued on CD (and not likely to be)

Recorded June 30, 1958; finally released in 1976


Cal Tjader returned to the Stars of Jazz TV show roughly a year after his first session, this time with a slightly different combo: Guaraldi remained on piano, but the more heavily Latin-hued group comprised Al McKibbon on bass, Willie Bobo on drums, and Mongo Santamaria on congas. Three songs from the Trader quintet's appearance made it onto this LP; the rest of the album features the Paul Togawa Quartet and vocalists Ernestine Anderson and Chris Connor.

Jazz fans across the country likely would have tuned in for their first taste of Tjader's new Afro-Cuban focus. They were destined for a surprise; Santamaria sat out for the first two numbers, on which the remaining quartet's approach is entirely traditional jazz.

Host Bobby Troup introduced the band as it quietly ran through the final movement of Tjader's "Bill B" (not on this album, as the TV recording wasn't complete). The band then launches into "Crow's Nest," the first of the three Tjader originals that comprises their set. The TV performance is a jazz-lover's dream come true, with director Hap Weyman methodically sending his cameras to catch tight close-ups of each musician's solos; Guaraldi wears a pensive, mildly amused expression as he digs into his riffs, his hands showcased quite well by the mirror behind the piano keyboard.

The quartet then delivers a lovely reading of the waltz-time "Liz-Anne," which focuses almost entirely on Tjader's vibes; Guaraldi gets little action during this piece. Lastly, the band -- now a full quintet -- gives a climactic reading of "Tumbao," which grants Santamaria plenty of time to wail on his congas.

As was the case with the first Stars of Jazz visit, Tjader dominates the session, his vibes front and center. Poor Guaraldi is barely noticed in "Liz-Anne," and he does little beyond shadowing Tjader in "Tumbao."

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Willie Bobo -- drums
Mongo Santamaria -- congas

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Crow's Nest"
"Liz-Anne" [incorrectly listed as "Leazon"]
"Tumbao"

Guaraldi compositions:
None



Latin for Lovers

"Latin for Lovers"

**

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3-279, 8016

Re-issued on CD, paired with San Francisco Moods, as Sentimental Moods (Fantasy FCD-24742-2)

Recorded in late August 1958; released December 1958


Mention "jazz" and "strings" in the same breath, and most jazz purists will turn up their noses and leave the room. In many cases, they'd be justified ... and this may be one of them. Although Tjader works hard to retain this album's jazz elements, they're frequently overshadowed by conductor Albert White's string quartet. Indeed, without paying close attention, you'll likely hear nothing beyond the flute (Paul Horn), congas and percussion (Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo) and the strings. Even Tjader's lead on vibes frequently is overpowered. The result is a pleasant, easy-listening album to use when snuggling on the couch with your favorite companion, but stand-out jazz solos are completely absent. (In fairness, the project probably was designed with snuggling in mind, and probably should not be regarded as a jazz album anyway.)

As for Guaraldi, his piano rarely rises above the role of background shading. He has a brief solo in "Alone Together," and actually takes the melody line for a bit in "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas," but that's about it. You'll hear him briefly noodle around in "Time Was," "Star Eyes" and "Skylark," but it's scarcely enough to be termed a solo. Bobo and Santamaria must have felt quite constrained; both do little beyond subdued 4/4 beats throughout.

On the basis of his work here, you'd never expect that Guaraldi would emerge from Tjader's shadow. Even so, Vince obviously was pleased with the results; he is known to have told Larry Vuckovich -- who was invited to hear this recording session -- that he thought this music was "beautiful," in great part because of the string accompaniment and Paul Horn's flute work. Indeed, we can accept that Guaraldi must have been inspired; he brought in a string quartet for half the numbers of his 1964 release, The Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi. [On a completely unreleated side note, the cut "Martha" sounds strangely similar to the theme that would be used, about a decade later, for television's The Flying Nun.]

Sentimental Moods


As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings (monaural) of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red. The first pressings of the stereo version were on blue vinyl.

This album has been re-released on a Fantasy compilation CD titled Sentimental Moods , which also includes all of San Francisco Moods.





Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Paul Horn -- flute
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo -- drums, congas, percussion

Track listing:
"Alone Together"
"I Should Care"
"Martha"
"Ode to a Beat Generation"
"Quizas, Quizas, Quizas"
"Skylark"
"Spring Is Here"
"Star Eyes"
"Stella by Starlight"
"Time Was"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Latin Concert

"Cal Tjader's Latin Concert"

***

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3-275, 8014; Original Jazz Classics OJC 643

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-643-2

Recorded live September 1958 at the Blackhawk, in San Francisco; released October 1958


Guaraldi fans will find a little more to enjoy than is usual for one of Tjader's Latin-hued albums, mostly because Vince gets more of a chance to shine in this quintet, than among the larger crowd usually associated with similar Tjader releases. Guaraldi's keyboards are quite evident in this group, which includes Tjader (vibes), Mongo Santamaria (congas), Al McKibbon (bass) and Willie Bobo (timbales, drums). Most of the numbers are influenced just as much by bop and straight-ahead jazz, as by Latin, although two of them do drone on and on and on.

Guaraldi delivers some striking chops in "Cubano Chant" and a rousing cover of "The Continental," and he also has prominent solos in "Viva Cepeda" and "Mood for Milt." He clearly has the most fun trading riffs with Tjader during "Mi Guaguanco," a lively number certain to get your fingers snapping. While not among the best of Guaraldi's recorded sessions with Tjader, in terms of showcasing the piano, this disc certainly isn't a waste of time.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings of this album (both monaural and stereo) were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.

This recording of "Viva Cepeda" also appears on Cal Tajader's San Francisco Moods (see next entry).

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Mongo Santamaria -- congas
Willie Bobo -- timbales, drums

Track listing:
"The Continental"
"Cubano Chant"
"Lucero"
"Mi Guaguanco"
"Mood for Milt"
"Theme"
"Tu Crees Que?"
"Viva Cepeda"
"A Young Love"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


San Francisco Moods

"San Francisco Moods"

**

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3-271, 8017; Original Jazz Classics OJC 277

Re-issued on CD, paired with Latin for Lovers, as Sentimental Moods (Fantasy FCD-24742-2)

Guaraldi track recorded live September 1958 at the Blackhawk, in San Francisco; released November 1958


A lot of jazz guides miss this one, and no wonder; Guaraldi participated in only one track, "Viva Cepeda" ... although you don't need to purchase this disc in order to get it, because the cut also appears on Cal Tjader's Latin Concert (see previous entry). The disc as a whole is Tjader's tribute to the famed City by the Golden Gate, where he spent so much time performing during the 1950s and '60s. While nine of these 10 tracks are performed by Tjader and one collection of sidemen, he used his Latin-oriented sextet for "Viva Cepeda," which includes Guaraldi (piano), Al McKibbon, Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. It's a boistrous, up-tempo number, and Guaraldi delivers a lengthy -- and quite ferocious -- solo.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red (monaural) and blue (stereo).

This album has been re-released on a Fantasy compilation CD titled Sentimental Moods, which also includes all of Latin for Lovers. (See above.)

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Mongo Santamaria -- congas
Willie Bobo -- timbales, drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Viva Cepeda"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival

"The Best of Cal Tjader: Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1958-1980"

****

Cal Tjader

No LP release

Concord/Monterey Jazz Festival Records MJFR-30701

Recorded live October 4, 1958, at the very first Monterey Jazz Festival; finally released in 2008


This is the pot of gold at the end of a Guaraldi lover's rainbow, boys and girls, and it's darn well about time!

When Monterey Jazz Festival Records, a sub-label of Concord Records, began to release a series of classic Monterey Jazz Festival recordings, we crossed our fingers and prayed to the jazz gods that Cal Tjader would be part of the package. Our prayers were answered in the summer of 2008 with this collection, which includes single tracks from Tjader's various appearances at that annual event in 1972, 1974, 1977 and 1980, along with...

...wait for it...

...the entire 36-minute set that introduced Tjader's quintet, with an assist from guest Buddy DeFranco on clarinet, to the 1958 festival crowd. It was well after midnight, fans were cold and hungry, and Tjader took the stage with Guaraldi, Al McKibbon (bass), Willie Bobo (drums and timbales) and Mongo Santamaria (congas). "It's getting kind of early in the morning," Tjader commented, perhaps nervously, in an introduction also recorded for posterity on this CD. He needn't have worried; mere seconds into their first cut, nobody in the crowd was cold or hungry any longer.

The quintet/sextet played four numbers, starting with Gershwin's "Summertime" and continuing with Charlie Parker's "Now's the Time," Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant" and Tjader's own "Tumbao." Guaraldi fans will be most taken with the first two tracks, both of which run well over 10 minutes and feature ferocious piano solos and plenty of duets with Tjader on vibraphone. To quote San Francisco Chronicle writer Jesse Hamlin's excellent liner notes, as he describes Vince's work on "Summertime," "Guaraldi ... lets loose a soulful solo with Monkish touches and big Red Garland block chords." Guaraldi really cooks during his solo in "Now's the Time," which concludes as he changes keys to set up some lively give-and-take between Tjader and DeFranco.

The mood turns Afro-Cuban with "Cubano Chant," and while Guaraldi trades some slick riffs with Tjader, the pianist doesn't really shine like he does in the first two tracks. And "Tumbao," while it must've been something to watch during the live performance, is irritatingly redundant as a recording, with Guaraldi hammering the same short vamp as Santamaria and Tjader (handling percussion on this track) go nuts with the drums and congos, over and over and over and over again. B-o-r-i-n-g...

...but no less historic. Nobody departing this set could have doubted the rising fame of both Tjader and his fiery pianist, and of course the truth of this belief was just around the corner for both. Hearing this recording, literally released on the concert's half-century anniversary, sends a chill up my spine that probably would have felt the same, had I been part of the crowd late that night on the California coast, as fingers of fog slowly invaded the venue.

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes, percussion
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Willie Bobo -- drums, timbales
Mongo Santamaria -- congas
Buddy DeFranco -- clarinet

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Cubano Chant"
"Now's the Time"
"Summertime"
"Tumbao"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


A Night at the Blackhawk

"A Night at the Blackhawk"

***

Cal Tjader Sextet

Fantasy 3-283, 8026; Original Jazz Classics OJC 278

Re-issued on CD, paired with Cal Tjader: Live and Direct, as Blackhawk Nights (Fantasy OJCCD-2475-5)

Recorded live December 1958 at the Blackhawk, in San Francisco; released September 1959


Tjader spent a lot of time at the Blackhawk, and he enjoyed a very successful 1959 Christmas season at this popular San Francisco jazz hangout. Several sessions were recorded live, resulting in the six tracks that made up this album; aside from Tjader himself, the personnel included Guaraldi (piano), Jose Silva (tenor sax), Al McKibbon (bass), Willie Bobo (timbales, drums) and Mongo Santamaria (congos). The result is a bit dichotomous, reflecting the different recording sessions; part of the album is extremely tasty straight-ahead jazz, while a few other cuts reflect Tjader's continued fascination with the genre's influx of Afro-Cuban sounds.

The album opens with laid-back, traditional readings of "I Hadn't Anyone Til You" and "Blue and Sentimental," then bursts into Afro-Cuban life with a lengthy arrangement of Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunesia." Guaraldi is all over this cut -- and all over the keyboard, during his lively midpoint solo -- although sharp-eared listeners may notice that his piano sounds slightly out of tune.

The tempo ramps down for Tjader's "Bill B," which is given straight-ahead treatment in an extended arrangement (more than 12 minutes!) that grants tasty solos to Tjader, Silva and Guaraldi; at one point, Guaraldi can be heard chuckling in appreciation. Things turn raucous again with "Stompin' at the Savoy," with the musicians shouting encouragement to each other, and the album concludes with a positively frantic double-time reading of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris," with Silva and the rhythm section battling for supremacy.

Blackhawk Nights




As was Fantasy's signature practice, the early monaural pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.

This album and Tjader's Live and Direct (which does not feature Guaraldi at all) are combined on Fantasy's CD release Blackhawk Nights.





Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Jose "Combo" Silva -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria -- congas, bongos

Track listing:
"Bill B."
"Blue and Sentimental"
"I Hadn't Anyone Till You"
"I Love Paris"
"A Night in Tunisia"
"Stompin' at the Savoy"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Mongo!

"Mongo"

*

Mongo Santamaria

Fantasy 3-291, 8032

Re-issued on CD, paired with Yambu, as Afro Roots (Prestige PRCD-24018-2)

Guaraldi track recorded in December 1958; album released September 1959


This compilation CD includes all but one of the cuts ("Mi Guaguanco" was left behind, due to space limitations) from Mongo Santamaria's first two sessions as band leader, after he'd achieved acclaim and popular success showcasing his Afro-Cuban sound as a sideman with Tito Puente and Cal Tjader.

The majority of the LP Mongo was recorded in May 1959, but that album also includes one track made in December 1958, when Santamaria was part of Cal Tjader's combo during a session at San Francisco's Blackhawk. Most of the live recording session made at that club became Tjader's album A Night at the Blackhawk, but because this one track -- "Mazacote" -- highlighted Santamaria's style, it was saved for his own second album.

Even so, "Mazacote" is something of an anomaly amid all the other selections on Mongo, sounding far more like a live jam from one of Tjader's many Latin-influenced albums (no surprise there!). Unlike all the other tracks in this package, "Mazacote" is a lengthy (10:33) showcase for all sorts of soloists, although Guaraldi's piano scarcely can be heard. Unless you like Santamaria's work to begin with, this is another one recommended only for the truly anal Guaraldi completists.

Afro Roots



This album and Santamaria's Yambu (which does not feature Guaraldi at all) are combined on Fantasy's CD release Afro Roots.

Contrary to what some sources state, Guaraldi had no part of Santamaria's Sabroso! album; Vince simply is mentioned in the liner notes.






Personnel:
Mongo Santamaria -- congos, bongas, percussion
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Jose "Combo" Silva -- tenor sax

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Mazacote"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Latino

"Latino"

*

Cal Tjader

Fantasy 3339, 8079

Guaraldi track recorded live December 1958 at the Blackhawk, in San Francisco


Although Guaraldi's name is featured prominently on the CD re-issue of this compilation album, the pianist participates in only one track...so let the buyer beware. This collection is something of a "Cal's Greatest Latin Hits" package, all taken from earlier albums, and re-packaged by Fantasy to cash in on Tjader's rising popularity: a mix of live appearances recorded at different times and with four different bands. The sole Guaraldi track, "A Night in Tunisia," is lifted from Cal's album A Night at the Blackhawk (see above).


Blackhawk Nights



The original monaural pressing was issued on red vinyl, while the original stereo pressing was on blue.

This album and Tjader's Demasiado Caliente (which does not feature Guaraldi at all) are combined on Fantasy's CD release Latino, which has a revised cover image that showcases Guaraldi's name.





Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Jose "Combo" Silva -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Al McKibbon -- bass
Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria -- congas, bongos

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"A Night in Tunisia"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Latinsville

"Latinsville"

**

Victor Feldman

Contemporary M-5005

Re-issued on CD as Contemporary CCD-9005-2

Guaraldi sessions recorded March 2, 3 and 20, 1959, in Los Angeles; album released in January 1961


Guaraldi is one of many musicians on this "little big band" bop album, which also features Conte Candoli (trumpet), Victor Feldman (percussion, piano and vibraphone), Walter Benton (tenor sax and timbales), Stan Levey (drums), Armando Peraza and Willie Bobo (both bongos), Scott LaFaro (bass), Frank Rosolino (trombone), Mongo Santamaria (conga) and quite a few other guests on individual tracks. Fans of Cal Tjader's Latin sound are certain to enjoy this work from the British-born Feldman, the second studio project he completed on the Contemporary label. The original 12 cuts were recorded during four sessions in March and May of 1959; the CD re-releases's five bonus tracks were resurrected from two earlier sessions in December 1958. Guaraldi participated in three of the 1959 sessions, which produced tracks 6, 8, 9 and 12 (March 2); 5 and 10 (March 3); and 1, 3 and 7 (March 20).

Reflecting the tendency for jazzmen to cross-pollinate in those days, Feldman borrowed heavily from Tjader's Afro-Cuban groove and utilized percussionists Willie Bobo, Armando Peraza and Mongo Santamaria during all three sessions. The results aren't always kind to individual sidemen, particularly Guaraldi, whose piano often gets lost in these up-tempo, Latin-hued covers.

"Poinciana," "Spain," "Cuban Love Song" and Dizzy Gillespies "Woody 'n' You" were laid down on March 2, 1959. These hard-driving, percussion-heavy arrangements favor the congas, bongos and timbales, but Guaraldi makes himself heard on occasion. He contributes a brief but furious solo in the fast-paced "Poinciana," a melodic keyboard interlude in the slower-paced "Spain," and a magnificently "heavy" passage toward the end of "Cuban Love Song." Truly, he must have dented the keys on the latter. Guaraldi and Feldman also trade licks aggressively during "Woody 'n' You."

Rosolino and Levey were absent when the rest of the band returned the following day, to record "The Gypsy" and "In a Little Spanish Town." The latter, arranged like a fast-paced cha cha, would have been a crowd-pleasing kick in person, particularly when Guaraldi launches into another melodic solo. "The Gypsy" calms things down again, with Guaraldi comping chords gently in the background.

Two weeks later, on March 20, bassist Al McKibbon stepped in for LaFaro, who also had moved on. Three more tracks were recorded: "South of the Border," "Flying Down to Rio" and "Lady of Spain." The first, a droll mambo arrangement, grants Guaraldi two lively solos, and he makes the most of them before helping the band bring the melody home. His keyboard shading is all over the place on the equally up-tempo "Lady of Spain," which also grants him another brief but fiery solo. "Flying Down to Rio," finally, is moody and mysterious: a darkest-tropical-jungle reading punctuated by the occasional dazzling sunlight clearings of Feldman's vibes and Guaraldi's piano.
Latinsville CD





The CD re-issue of this album slightly re-works the cover image and features the key musicians, which of course includes Guaraldi.






Personnel:
Victor Feldman -- vibes
Conte Candoli -- trumpet
Frank Rosolino -- trombone
Walter Benton -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Scott LaFaro, Al McKibbon -- bass
Stan Levey -- drums
Willie Bobo -- timbales
Mongo Santamaria -- congas
Armando Peraza -- bongos

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Cuban Love Song"
"Flying Down to Rio"
"The Gypsy"
"In a Little Spanish Town"
"Lady of Spain"
"Poinciana"
"South of the Border"
"Spain"
"Woody 'n You"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Anglo-American Herd

"Woody Herman's Anglo-American Herd"

**

Woody Herman

Jazz Groove 004

Never released on CD (and not likely to be)

Recorded April 18, 1959; released in 1980


Thanks to something of a jazz musicians' "foreign exchange program" that the British Musicians' Union set up in the spring of 1959, Woody Herman was allowed -- with U.S. State Department help -- to bring "half a band" to England. Guaraldi was one of the musicians in that group. Once across the pond, Herman augmented his players with nine British musicians (two of them actually Canadians living in England at the time) to form what became known as Woody's Anglo-American Herd. The group played a series of dates in the UK, beginning at London's Royal Festival Hall on April 4, and continuing through April 19. The April 18 gigs at Manchester's Free Trade Hall -- one at 6 p.m., the second at 8:30 p.m. -- were recorded and eventually released, decades later, on Manchester's tiny Jazz Groove label. The album never has been re-issued on CD, and in fact even the LP is quite difficult to track down at this point.

For the most part, Guaraldi supplies little but "color" to the thundering big band sound, and his keyboard work can be difficult to hear. But he does have two solid piano intros: the first on a slow, sassy version of a "lazy little tune" (Herman's words) called "Like Some Blues, Man, Like." Guaraldi's work here, backed only by bass and drums, is truly lovely: a bit of bluesy keyboard work that makes you want to close your eyes and sway from side to side. His second solo, with some truly sparkling finger work, opens a much livelier version of Horace Silver's "Opus De Funk." The piano isn't miked terribly well, but even so, in both cases Guaraldi can be heard reasonably well, demonstrating the athletic chops that were quite a contrast to the quieter trio work on his own first two albums.

The Jazz Groove release has only nine selections, which isn't even half a concert. Recordings of many of the unissued tracks also exist, and -- with respect to those -- Guaraldi has a brief solo in the middle of "Blues on Parade." But he really shines on "The Deacon and the Elder," with a smoking-hot solo that runs two full minutes! The British crowd clearly enjoyed all the music, but it's reasonable to assume that Guaraldi truly drove folks wild with his work on this track. We can only hope that better-quality archive recordings of these concerts exist somewhere, in their entirety, for a future re-mastered CD release.

Personnel:
Woody Herman -- alto sax, clarinet
Nat Adderley Reunald Jones, Les Condon, Kenny Wheeler, Bert Courtley -- trumpets
Bill Harris, Ken Wray, Eddie Harvey -- trombones
Don Rendell, Art Ellefson, Ronnie Ross, Johnny Scott -- saxophones
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Charlie Byrd -- guitar
Keeter Betts -- bass
Jimmy Campbell -- drums

Track listing:
"Early Autumn"
"Four Brothers"
"From Pillar to Post"
"Like Some Blues, Man, Like"
"Opus de Funk"
"Playgirl Stroll"
"The Preacher"
"The Woodchopper's Ball"
[Unissued tracks include "Blues on Parade," "Body and Soul," "The Call of the Flute," "The Deacon and the Elder," "Drum Feature," "Greensleeves," "Someday, Somehow" (announced as "El Speedo") and "Wild Apple Honey"]

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Little Band, Big Jazz

"Little Band, Big Jazz"

***

The Conte Candoli All Stars

Crown LP-5162, CST-190; CLP-5417/CST-417

Re-issued on CD as Fresh Sound Records FSR1629

Recorded February 3, 1960; released later that same year.


This album features some genuinely fine support from Guaraldi in a quintet that includes Conte Candolo (trumpet), Leroy Vinegar (bass), Buddy Collette (tenor sax) and Stan Levey (drums). The six cuts are all straight-ahead jazz compositions delivered in the classic style, with ample opportunity for each musician to shine.

The first of Guaraldi's two originals, "Little David," was named after the pianist's young son; it's a playful, mid-tempo number in the cool bop mode, dominated by Guaraldi's signature single-note piano interludes, which alternate with tasty solos by Collette and Candoli. The mood is entirely different in "Macedonia," Guaraldi's second original; the trumpet and tenor sax have a stronger presence in this quieter, somewhat melancholy ballad. Even so, Guaraldi adds a touch of brightness with a keyboard interlude, before handing off to a gentle solo by Vinnegar. The piano returns toward the end, Guaraldi's melody line seeming to pose a final question that remains unanswered.

With respect to the remaining tracks, Vinnegar and Levey lay down a heavy beat in the Afro-Cuban-style "Mambo Diane," with Guaraldi enthusiastically comping background chords much the way he did during his final year with Cal Tjader. Guaraldi's best chops are delivered on "Muggin' the Minor" and "Zizanie," the latter roaring like a freight train, and and he trades enthusiastic riffs with Candoli on "Countin' the Blues." To a great degree, Guaraldi's solos on this entire album deliver catchy interior melodies all their own: ample evidence of the facility with which he'd soon be writing his own material.

All in all, this is an engaging album, if in the old Big Band style.

Rather intriguingly, a generous chunk of studio outtakes from this project has been circulating the Web: alternate takes of "Mambo Diane," "Macedonia," and "Zizanie," along with some incomplete efforts and a lot of chatter between the musicians. You get a great sense of how a tight jazz combo "shapes" a song according to tempo, and where the soloists come in. These outtakes were even gathered together onto a pair of "albums" made available for awhile via iTunes, until somebody figured out that this was a serious copyright violation, and removed them.

Little Band variant cover




Following Guaraldi's success with his Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus album in 1962, Crown re-issued this album with a painting of the pianist on the cover, and a new "title" that suggests it's one of his records ... and everybody else reduced to nothing more than small-font listings of their names!





Personnel:
Conte Candoli -- trumpet
Buddy Collette -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Leroy Vinegar -- bass
Stan Levey -- drums

Track listing:
"Countin' the Blues"
"Little David"
"Macedonia"
"Mambo Diane"
"Muggin' the Minor"
"Zizanie"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Little David"
"Macedonia"


Jimmy Witherspoon & Ben Webster

"Jimmy Witherspoon & Ben Webster"

***

Jimmy Witherspoon and Ben Webster

Verve V6-8835

Not yet available on CD

Recorded live, probably in December 1961/January 1962, at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco; released in 1973


This 1973 "from the vault" release from Verve definitely qualifies as one of this list's most surprising stealth candidates. You'll find no mention of anybody but Jimmy Witherspoon and Ben Webster within the truly atrocious liner notes -- without question, the worst I've ever read -- and even these two blues greats rate no more than a token nod. (The author seems more comfortable talking about football. And his own childhood.) But as the third song winds down during this live performance, Witherspoon gives a shout-out to the trio backing him and Webster, and he enthusiastically cites Vince Guaraldi by name. Small wonder, since Vince and his sidemen truly roar during this particular track, "Roll 'em Pete."

Their presence on this live set won't come as a total surprise to those who know that Guaraldi and his trio routinely backed Witherspoon and Webster during club appearances in the late 1950s and very early '60s. Indeed, Guaraldi's trio is part of the Witherspoon/Webster Jazz Casual entry a little further along in this list, on a CD that has the courtesy to acknowledge as much. But Verve is undoubtedly mistaken in its claim that this particular LP was recorded in 1967; that's much too late in Guaraldi's career. Vince's band supported Witherspoon and Webster during a two-week gig at San Francisco's Jazz Workshop in December 1961 and January '62, and that seems the logical choice for this recording date.

All eight of these tracks are vocals, so of course the focus is on bluesman Witherspoon; similarly, most of the instrumental solos are taken by Webster's tenor sax. But Vince and his sidemen are well in evidence; Witherspoon's vocal approach to each song leaves plenty of "space," and you can hear lots of piano, bass and drums alongside Webster's sax. Vince delivers some nice solo keyboard introductions to several of the slower, quieter songs, notably "See See Rider," "T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness" and "How Long, How Long Blues." Guaraldi also gets a good piano solo in the mid-tempo finger-snapper "How Long, How Long Blues." But the highlight for Guaraldi fans is the aforementioned "Roll 'Em Pete," where he truly tears up the keyboard. Small wonder Witherspoon was moved to acknowledge him!

Personnel:
Jimmy Witherspoon -- vocals
Ben Webster -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Dean Reilly -- bass
Colin Bailey -- drums

Track listing:
"Every Day I Have the Blues"
"How Long, How Long Blues"
"I'll Always Be in Love with You"
"Goin' Down Slow" [incorrectly titled "I've Had My Fun if I Don't Get Well No More"]
"Roll 'em Pete"
"See See Rider"
"St. Louis Blues"
"T'Ain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Live: Jimmy Witherspoon

"Live: Jimmy Witherspoon"

***

Jimmy Witherspoon

Stateside SSL 10232

Not yet available on CD

Recorded live, probably in December 1961/January 1962, at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco; finally released on 1968


Here's another stealth candidate: an album that, from the outside, also doesn't appear to involve Guaraldi ... but does! The exact recording date of this British release isn't known; Ben Webster's discography suggests some time in 1960, but it more likely would have been made in late 1961 or early 1962. This same quintet was recorded on January 4, 1962, for an episode of Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual TV series (see next entry), toward the end of a two-week run at The Jazz Workshop -- which ran from December 26, 1961, through January 7, 1962 -- and it seems logical to assume that this live gig would have been captured at roughly the same time.

(Chances are, the previous Verve entry was recorded during the same two-week run, although apparently on a different evening, as the set list isn't quite the same.)

It's another marvelous collection of blues classics, delivered with Witherspoon's signature texture and emotion. Much of Guaraldi's keyboard activity is restricted to short intros, comping and chord changes behind the vocals, but a few tracks stand out. He kicks off "Roll 'em Pete" with a saucy piano run and then tears through the rest of the track, which also affords him a great solo. Needless to say, he makes the most of it. This number obviously was a signature with Witherspoon, Webster and Guaraldi's trio; when it finally roars to a conclusion, Witherspoon gives Vince and his sidemen a shout-out (as also happens at the end of this same song on Verve's Witherspoon/ Webster/Guaraldi album).

Guaraldi also sparkles on "Confessin' the Blues" and "St. Louis Blues," and the latter really cooks, with Vince trading serious blues licks with Webster. Guaraldi opens "Money's Gettin' Cheaper" with a sassy barrelhouse riff and then has another great give-and-take with Webster; it's a fun number to hear, and must've been a hoot in person.

Guaraldi wraps things up with a lively piano outro as the concert closes, after "Please Send Me Someone to Love." Once again, it's important to mention how generous Witherspoon is, as a vocalist and the star of this show; he grants plenty of time to his sidemen, and they all get plenty of chances to shine.

Personnel:
Jimmy Witherspoon -- vocals
Ben Webster -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Colin Bailey -- drums

Track listing:
"C.C. Rider"
"Confessin' the Blues"
"Goin' Down Slow"
"Money's Gettin' Cheaper"
"I'm Gonna Move Way on the Outskirts of Town"
"Please Send Me Someone to Love"
"Roll 'em Pete"
"S.K. Blues"
"St. Louis Blues"
"T'Ain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do"
"Trouble in Mind"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Jazz Casual: Witherspoon

"Jazz Casual: Jimmy Witherspoon/Jimmy Rushing"

***

Jimmy Witherspoon

No LP release

Koch Jazz KOC CD-8561

Recorded January 4, 1962, in San Francisco; released in 2001


Although not immediately apparent from the CD cover, the Vince Guaraldi trio appears as backup during this installment of Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual series. The two-part CD (the second half is from another episode, with Jimmy Rushing) opens with a show devoted to Jimmy Witherspoon and his favorite tenor sax player, Ben Webster. Ironically, this episode of Jazz Casual actually boasts more music by Guaraldi and his trio (Monty Budwig, bass; Colin Bailey, drums) than the installment "devoted" to him. Witherspoon was an accommodating blues vocalist; he always allowed plenty of time for his back-up musicians to shine. Four tracks are vocal, and you'll hear plenty of Guaraldi's piano in the background, and during instrumental solos. Better still, two cuts -- "Cottontail" and "Chelsea Bridge" -- are instrumental, designed to focus on Webster...but, again, are accompanied by plenty of riffs from Guaraldi and his mates.

After delivering two of his signature hits -- "Money's Getting Cheaper" and "T'Ain't Nobody's Biz-ness if I Do" -- Witherspoon steps aside, to let the four instrumentalists have the spotlight. They start with a roaring cover of Duke Ellington's "Cottontail," which grants Guaraldi a smoking keyboard solo. His concentration is palpable, the fingers of his right hand (on camera) almost a blur. When he finally hands the focus back to Webster, Guaraldi's expression is almost stern: This was a gig for posterity, and he took it seriously.

Bailey and Webster then trade off several times, before the latter once again finds the melody line and brings the song to a close. The absence of applause is almost disconcerting, but Webster seems not to notice; he launches immediately into a haunting cover of Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," with Guaraldi quietly comping chords in the background until earning another solo: a simply gorgeous interior melody all his own, once again demonstrating his facility for turning solos into their own songs. Budwig, standing alongside, follows with a lovely counterpoint.

Witherspoon then returns to his microphone and launches into a mid-tempo "Outskirts of Town," taking only a few verses before once again passing the torch to Webster; Guaraldi and his trio make themselves heard without intruding. Witherspoon then approaches the microphone again, snapping his fingers in time to Bailey's solid beat, and brings the song home.

This show also is available on video, from Rhino Home Video. Although often concealed behind Webster -- the camera angle is maddeningly uncooperative -- Guaraldi is revealed and shown during his extended solos in "Cottontail" and "Chelsea Bridge." Better still, the video includes one additional cut (unidentified, alas), which is played as the closing credits roll, and it also features Guaraldi quite prominently.

Personnel:
Jimmy Witherspoon -- vocals
Ben Webster -- tenor sax
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Colin Bailey -- drums

Track listing:
"Chelsea Bridge"
"I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town"
"Cottontail"
"Roll 'em Pete"
"T'Ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do"
"Times Getting Tougher"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Jazz All Stars

"Jazz All Stars"

*

Various artists

Modern Records MLP-7027/MST-827

Never released on CD (and not likely to be)

Guaraldi session recorded January 20, 1957; released in 1962


This 1962 anthology LP, like the similar 1958 Crown release, features a multitude of different jazz stars, each of them fronting different combos, and each contributing a single track. Oddly, this album and the earlier Crown LP share only one track in common ... and it's the Tjader Quartet's cut!

As before, the misnamed "Journey's End" actually is "Land's End," from the Tjader Quartet's 1957 Jazz at the Blackhawk album.

(See Jazz Confidential, above, for additional information.)

Personnel:
Cal Tjader -- vibes
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Dean Reilly -- bass
Bobby White -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Journey's End" [sic]

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Ella Jamerson single

"Since I Fell for You"/"When I Fall in Love"

***

Ella Jamerson

Galaxy 724

Never released on CD

Recorded and released in early 1963


Ella Jamerson came to Guaraldi's attention after her gospel vocal group, The Apollos, cut a pair of singles for Fantasy's subsidiary label, Galaxy Records. Guaraldi very much liked Jamerson's voice, and he booked a studio session to lay down the two tracks that were released on this single. (Sadly, we don't know who joined them on bass and drums.)

Jamerson's cover of "Since I Fell for You" is bluesy and soulful, displaying a sultry passion guaranteed to make couples fall into each other's arms. Guaraldi plays gentle melodic counterpoint behind her, the bass and drums maintaining a slow, swaying beat. At 1:55, the trio takes an instrumental bridge, the tempo accelerating to a medium-fast 4/4 and Guaraldi delivering a sparkling keyboard melody that wouldn't have been out of place as underscore for a certain world-famous beagle, in his Joe Cool persona. This interlude runs about 30 seconds, after which the tempo slows again and Jamerson returns, her voice entering with the clarity of a sustained trumpet note. Guaraldi's comping becomes more energetic as the song builds to its climax, the bass and drums similarly ramping up to bring the tune home. As the final note fades, one can't help feeling breathless.

"When I Fall in Love" is calmer, opening with a sweet instrumental vamp in gentle waltz time. Guaraldi's comping, while still not intrusive, is much more ambitious and harmonically rich; he's all over the keyboard with chords and delicate little filigrees, supported energetically by the bass and drums. Jamerson sings throughout this short arrangement — just shy of 2 minutes, to the A-side's 3:09 — so there's no room for an instrumental solo. But Guaraldi shadows her quite nicely as the tune enters its final verse, demonstrating his savvy awareness of a good accompanist's role: to support the vocalist, and make her sound even better (as opposed to bad accompanists, who call too much attention to their own efforts).

As it happened, Jamerson and Guaraldi's trio recorded three songs that day ... the final one being "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." Unfortunately, that recording was to remain in the vault. Guaraldi and Fantasy knew that Mel Torme had just recorded a vocal version of "Fate" that was due to be released that spring, on the Atlantic label; they didn't want to compete with a cover by such a well-known singer. As it happened, Torme's "Fate" didn't amount to much in the States, although it hit No. 4 on Australia's pop chart, on May 25, 1963. After which, for whatever reason, the Jamerson/Guaraldi version of the song remained unreleased. To this day, if the recording still exists at all, it's buried somewhere in Fantasy's archives.

Personnel:
Ella Jamerson -- vocals
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Bassist and drummer unknown

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Since I Fell for You"
"When I Fall in Love"

Guaraldi compositions: (none)


Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years!

"Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years!"



David Benoit

No LP release

GRP 314 543 637-2

Recorded September 13-29, 1999, in New York, Hollywood and Tennessee;
Orchestra recorded November 5, 1999, in Los Angeles


It worked for Natalie Cole, when she turned "Unforgettable" into a fresh hit by making a duet with her late father, thanks to the magic of post-production. David Benoit does the same here, on the opening track of his marvelous tribute to Guaraldi's Peanuts music. The first cut, "Linus and Lucy," is an unusual collaboration between Benoit's trio (Christian McBride, bass; Peter Erskine, drums and percussion) and Guaraldi himself, using Vince's very first recording of this piece that would help further his fame. You'll recognize Guaraldi's signature keyboard sound as the song opens, and it's almost spooky when Benoit and his guys kick in. Still, since the purpose of this document is to chart all of Guaraldi's recorded appearances, then this one certainly qualifies!

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
David Benoit -- piano
Christian McBride -- bass
Peter Erskine -- drums and percussion

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Linus and Lucy"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Blue Charlie Brown"
"Charlie Brown Theme"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"Frieda (with the Naturally Curly Hair)"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Pebble Beach"
"Red Baron"


As star, with his own trios and groups:



Modern Music from San Francisco

"Modern Music from San Francisco"

***

The Vince Guaraldi Quartet/The Ron Crotty Trio

Fantasy LP 3-213; Original Jazz Classics OJC 272

Re-issued on CD with The Charlie Mariano Sextet, as The Jazz Scene: San Francisco (Fantasy FCD-24760-2)

Recorded August 1955; released March 1956


Here it is, Guaraldi historians: Vince's recorded debut as a group leader. The seven cuts on this album are split between three groups: the Vince Guaraldi Quartet (with Jerry Dodgion, alto sax; Eugene Wright, bass; and John Markham, drums); the Ron Crotty Trio (with Guaraldi, piano and celeste; and Eddie Duran, guitar); and the Jerry Dodgion Quartet (which does not include Guaraldi among its personnel). Vince participates on five of these seven tracks, three with the Ron Crotty Trio, and two with his own quartet. (This album also marks Duran's first recorded session.)

The first two tracks with the Ron Crotty Trio are standards: Matt Dennis and Tom Adair's "The Night We Called It a Day," and Herb Magidson and Allie Wrubel's "(I'm Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over." Guaraldi can't even be detected on the former, which serves mostly as a showcase for Duran's sumptuous guitar work. The pianist is more visible on the second cut, a lengthy, mid-tempo swinger that does a better job of showcasing all three players.

The third -- a Guaraldi original titled "Ginza" -- is of much greater significance. Aside from opening the album, this song would become one of Guaraldi's first anthems: a "personal standard" that quickly earned a spot in his ongoing repertoire. It's a sassy, fast-paced romp with echoes of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz": It opens with a furious melodic duet between Guaraldi and Duran, then moves into a double-time bridge by Duran, which is followed by a dazzling piano solo. A bit later, Duran adds some percussion by audibly tapping the body of his guitar. As this vibrant head-bopper concludes, the listener can't help feeling breathless.

Both tracks with the Vince Guaraldi Quartet are originals. Dodgion's "Between 8th and 10th on Mission Street," an address in San Francisco's South of Market district, just below the huge Civic Center region, may have referred to the venerable San Francisco Chronicle building, at 901 Mission. Dodgion's tune is a bluesy little ballad propelled by Wright's heavy 4/4 beat; Dodgion gives himself the bulk of the melody line, with Guaraldi comping enthusiastically behind him. The pianist takes a solo midway through, and demonstrates the hard-fisted melodies that flowed effortlessly from his fingers. Guaraldi's attack becomes more aggressive as the song continues, building in intensity until he hands off to Wright; Dodgion then rejoins the group as everybody brings it on home.

The final cue, a second Guaraldi original dubbed "Calling Dr. Funk," is a loose, smoky, mildly dirty blues number that sounds like a theme song: probably not accidental, because the title referenced the nickname -- Dr. Funk -- by which Guaraldi already was coming to be known. Dodgion wails his way through the first solo of this tune, Guaraldi impishly comping behind him, and then the pianist takes over with an mischievous collection of chords and single-note runs that start softly, almost hesitantly, before he settles into the tune's primary melody line. The song comes to what sounds like a false conclusion at the six-minute mark, then launches into a refrain of the melody before fading quietly, almost mysteriously. (Years later, Guaraldi would compose similar background riffs for Snoopy, in his WWI Flying Ace persona, as he makes his way behind enemy lines in a memorable sequence from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.)

Jazz Scene San Francisco




As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.

This album, along with another (on which Guaraldi doesn't perform, although he did write one track), has been re-issued on a CD titled The Jazz Scene San Francisco.




Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Jerry Dodgion, alto sax
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Eugene Wright, Ron Crotty -- bass
John Markham -- drums

Tracks that include Guaraldi:
"Between 8th and 10th on Mission Street"
"Calling Dr. Funk"
"Ginza"
"The Masquerade Is Over"
"The Night We Called It a Day"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Calling Dr. Funk"
"Ginza"


The Vince Guaraldi Trio

"The Vince Guaraldi Trio"

****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy 3-225, Original Jazz Classics OJC-149

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-149-2

Recorded April 1956; released September 1956


This, Guaraldi's first session for an album under his own name, is a collection of mostly gentle ballads delivered by the pianist and his trio: Eddie Duran (guitar) and Dean Reilly (bass). The absence of drums contributes to the album's quieter sound, and Guaraldi displays none of the Latin-influenced touch that later would consume him, and very little of the energetic chops he delivered while working with the Woody Herman and Cal Tjader bands.

The album's overall approach is mostly quiet and thoughtful, starting with the gentle single-note melodies Guaraldi brings to his reading of "Django." This is the dawning of the classic "Guaraldi sound," demonstrating his ability to paint an impressive musical portrait with a deceptively simple arrangement of notes and chords. At a few seconds shy of 5 minutes, this song sounds like a classical jazz sonata, complete with distinct interior movements.

"Sweet and Lovely" lives up to its name, and "Three Coins in the Fountain" does, indeed, open up delicately for all three instruments. "Never Never Land," a solo piano outing, is positively haunting: a poignantly lyrical arrangement that tugs at the heart. The song concludes with an unexpected chord: mildly jarring at first blush, but uniquely correct in hindsight. Catching the listener off-guard, in this fashion, also would become a Guaraldi trademark.

The pace picks up for Frank Loesser's "The Lady's in Love with You" -- Guaraldi trading great riffs with Reilly -- and "Fascinatin' Rhythm," the latter dominated by Duran's fiery guitar work, matched during the improv bridge by Guaraldi's equally swift comping. "It's De-Lovely" is similarly up-tempo: a double-time, finger-snapping showcase for all three musicians, and it must have generated plenty of applause when performed live at the hungry i. Both this and the Gershwin number are scorching stand-outs, particularly when compared to the bulk of the album's much softer material.

"Fenwyck Farfel," a Guaraldi original, is whimsically mysterious, with a strong suggestion of the charming themes he one day would concoct for the many Peanuts TV specials.

Although pretty, the album is a bit uneven; far better things were to come.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.

Three of the selections herein also appear on Guaraldi's Jazz Impressions album: "Django," "Fenwyck Farfel" and "Three Coins in the Fountain."

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Dean Reilly -- bass

Track listing:
"Chelsea Bridge"
"Django"
"Fascinating' Rhythm"
"Fenwyck Farfel"
"It's De-Lovely"
"The Lady's in Love with You"
"Never Never Land"
"Ossobucco"
"Sweet and Lovely"
"Three Coins in the Fountain"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Fenwyck Farfel"


A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing

"A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing"

****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy 3-257, Original Jazz Classics OJC-235

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-235-2

Recorded April 16, 1957; released in April 1958


Guaraldi uses the same trio here as with the previous album: Eddie Duran (guitar) and Dean Reilly (bass), again with no drums. These eight cuts are (for the most part) gentle and lyrical, as befits a collective theme that revolves around flora and changing seasons. Only three tracks could be considered up-tempo -- "Softly, as a Morning Sunrise," "Looking for a Boy" and "Lonely Girl" -- while the others are melancholy laments or tender ballads. Two tracks are solo piano efforts: "Yesterdays" and "Autumn Leaves." You'll recognize all but one of these songs as popular romantic standards, and each gets the polished Guaraldi treatment; the one newcomer is a charming Guaraldi original, "Like a Mighty Rose," which fits perfectly with the rest.

The album's mostly gentle tone notwithstanding, Guaraldi makes sure listeners don't completely forget his blues sensibilities, when he digs into the keys during the middle of "Looking for a Boy."

This is, without question, one of Guaraldi's prettiest albums.

As was Fantasy's signature practice, the first pressings of this album were released on colored vinyl, in this case red.

Five of these cuts -- "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," "Yesterdays," "Autumn Leaves," "Willow Weep for Me" and "Like a Mighty Rose" -- also are on Guaraldi's 1964 album, Jazz Impressions. The latter, however, is mysteriously retitled "Room at the Bottom."

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Dean Reilly -- bass

Track listing:
"Autumn Leaves"
"A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing"
"Like a Mighty Rose"
"Lonely Girl"
"Looking for a Boy"
"Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise"
"Willow Weep for Me"
"Yesterdays"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Like a Mighty Rose" (aka "Room at the Bottom")


Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

"Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus"

*****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy 3337, 8089; Original Jazz Classics OJC-437-2

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-437-2 [OJC-32328]

Recorded in November 1961 and February 1962, and released in April 1962; remastered anniversary edition released October 2010


Sometimes everything comes together perfectly; sometimes every cut on a given album is worth preserving forever. That's most certainly the case with this one, Guaraldi's artistic and commercial breakthrough -- and Fantasy Records' first bona-fide hit in the label's 13 years of existence -- which began life when the jazz pianist decided to cover some tunes from the Antonio Carlos Jobim/Luiz Bonfa score to the 1959 French/Portugeuse film Black Orpheus (an Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film). It was to be a convergence of remarkable talent and great timing, since the album arrived just as the American public woke up to the distinctive rhythms of bossa nova.

Vince and his trio -- Monty Budwig, bass; Colin Bailey, drums -- deliver stylish renditions of four songs from the film's memorable score: "Samba de Orpheus," "Manha de Carnaval," "O Nosso Amor" and "Generique." Great as they are, the original album's B-side contained an unheralded treat: "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," the eloquent Guaraldi original that would earn him a Gold Record and a 1963 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Composition, and, not coincidentally, become one of his signature themes. But there's still more; Guaraldi and his mates also deliver a gorgeous reading of Henry Mancini's "Moon River" and a bluesy cover of "Since I Fell for You." Lastly, the icing on the cake is the first appearance of Guaraldi's "Alma-Ville," which also occupied a place of favor in the musician's heart. (Compare this to the version that would appear several years later, on Alma-Ville.) You simply can't ask for more.

The original pressing of the monaural LP was on red vinyl, while the original stereo pressing was on blue vinyl.

As "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" began to climb the charts, Fantasy re-worked the album cover, first with a "flag" to indicate the presence of the song, and eventually by putting the song front and center, and submerging the album's original title.

Orpheus 2 Orpheus 3

A Super Audio CD version of this album exists, released by Analogue Productions; the catalog number is CAPJ 8089 SA.

For those unfamiliar with Super Audio CD, it is described thusly: Super Audio Compact Disc (Super Audio CD or SACD for short) is a new, revolutionary audio format that promises high-resolution audio in either two-channel stereo or multi-channel audio. Multi-channel audio means up to six full-frequency, discrete channels of music are supported. The audio quality is supposed to far surpass that of the audio Compact Disc (CD) format, with unsurpassed frequency response and sonic transparency, and it's more analog-like in terms of music reproduction. But take note: As much promise as the SACD format holds, the technology is still very new and has not gained "mainstream" status yet. (And yes, SACDs will play on all your conventional CD players.)

Fantasy/Concord released a 24-bit remastering of this classic album in October 2010. Aside from the marvelously improved sound of the original eight tracks, the re-issue includes five bonus tracks: the 45 single version of "Samba de Orpheus" and alternate takes of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," "Manha de Carnaval," "O Nosso Amor" and "Felicidade."

The latter title also corrects a mistake present in Fantasy's original liner notes, which identified the final track on the first side of the LP as "Generique." In fact, that's not a title; it's a performance style. A quick glance at the original soundtrack of "Black Orpheus" will show the term applied to versions of both "O Nosso Amor" and "A Felicidade." The correct title of the fourth of the film's primary themes, as so melodically arranged by Guaraldi for his album, is "Felicidade" (or, for nit-pickers, "A Felicidade").

A 45 single was released (Fantasy 563X), with "Samba de Orpheus" and "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Colin Bailey -- drums

Track listing:
"Alma-Ville"
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Generique" [more properly titled "Felicidade"]
"Manha de Carnaval"
"Moon River"
"O Nosso Amor"
"Samba de Orpheus"
"Since I Fell for You"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Alma-Ville"
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"


In Person

"In Person"

***

Vince Guaraldi

Fantasy 3352, 8352

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-951-2

Recorded December 4, 1962, at the Trident in Sausalito, California; released in June 1963


Not wanting to lose any momentum after the chart-topping success of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," Fantasy quickly taped and released one of Guaraldi's many live sessions in the Bay Area. The results are pleasantly entertaining, although the recording quality is a bit "tinny," which makes the music sound overly bright. Guaraldi's standard trio -- Fred Marshall, bass; Colin Bailey, drums -- is further complimented by guitarist Eddie Duran and some up-tempo support from Benny Velarde on scratcher. The latter, in fact, is a key element of roughly half of these nine cuts: the ones that reflect Guaraldi's growing interest in all things Brazilian. "Zelao," "Forgive Me If I'm Late," "Outra Vez" and "Chora Tua Tristeza" sound very much like what Vince would perfect in just a few more months, when teamed with Bola Sete.

The album kicks off with Sergio Riccardo's percussion-driven "Zelao," a lively samba that certainly would have made patrons sit up and take notice, as the first number of a given set. It's easy to imagine Guaraldi smiling across the top of the piano, as he charms listeners with his mid-tempo melody line. Things calm down for a gentle, classic trio arrangement of "On Green Dolphin Street." Marshall's smooth bass drives the tempo up a bit during the improvisational bridge; Guaraldi responds with some engagingly complex chords, then steps back and settles into quiet comping behind Marshall's dextrous finger-work.

The trio's suspense-laden introduction to Nicholas Roubanis' "Misirlou" sounds like an action cue in a thriller movie; Bailey roars into a higher tempo during the bridge, which finds Guaraldi all over the keyboard. The trio's cover of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" is truly delightful, with Guaraldi's boogie-woogie left hand and exuberant right-hand runs strongly foreshadowing "Skating," a popular tune he'd later write for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Marshall takes full advantage of his lengthy solo here, once again displaying impressive finger work. The song concludes with a dynamic unison chord that must have brought the house down.

Sadly, the music isn't quite dynamic enough to silence the surprisingly noisy crowd; one wishes that Enrico Banducci's shut-up-or-get-the-hell-out policy -- so welcome at the hungry i -- could have been enforced here at the Trident, as well, at least long enough for the recording to be completed.

Duran finally joins the fun with a lively bossa nova cover of "Forgive Me if I'm Late," which also brings Velarde back into the fold. The Jobim-DeMoraes composition "Outra Vez" and Maria-Pernambuco's "The Love of a Rose" get similar up-tempo Latinesque treatment, with Guaraldi's well-placed melodic chords deftly anchoring both tunes.

"Freeway," a Guaraldi original, is an odd little number, with free jazz-style chords and runs serving as counterpoint to an equally free-form bass-and-drum line. (The title probably should have been split into two words -- "Free Way" -- to reflect its approach.) It's one of Guaraldi's few original compositions that lacks an easily remembered melody line; one doubts that anybody would have left the club humming this tune.

The album concludes with another bossa nova number: Neves-Fiorini's "Chora Tua Tristeza," which once again keeps Velarde quite busy, as Guaraldi's fingers fly all over the keyboard. Indeed, Ralph Gleason comments on this very characteristic, in his liner notes: "What Vince has got in his playing is feeling. This is a quality that money can't buy, practice cannot make perfect and technique tends to defeat rather than enhance. Vince sings when he plays. I don't mean he grunts or hums or even makes a noise at all. I mean his fingers sing, the music sings, and he writhes and twists on the piano stool like a balancing act in the circus."

A 45 single was released (Fantasy 567X), with "Zelao" and "Jitterbug Waltz."

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Fred Marshall -- bass
Colin Bailey -- drums
Benny (Bayardo) Velarde -- scratcher (guiro)

Track listing:
"Chora Tua Tristeza (Cry Your Blues Away)"
"Forgive Me if I'm Late"
"Freeway"
"Jitterbug Waltz"
"The Love of a Rose"
"Misirlou"
"On Green Dolphin Street"
"Outra Vez"
"Zelao"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Freeway"


Vince Guaraldi/Bola Sete and Friends

"Vince Guaraldi/Bola Sete and Friends"

****

Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete

Fantasy 3356, 8356

Re-issued on CD, paired with Live at El Matador, as Vince and Bola (Fantasy FCD-24756-2)

Recorded in August 1963; released in January 1964


The rumor is that Guaraldi and Sete "prepared" for this recording with just a single practice session one day earlier, in Vince's Bay Area home. ("Nothing came out the way we rehearsed it," Guaraldi confessed. "It was beautiful.") If true, these two obviously were the perfect musical marriage from the get-go. This, the first of their three album collaborations, is the most consistent; all five of these quiet samba numbers reflect the gentle bossa nova sound that Sete brought to this relationship.

Guaraldi and Sete first met at the 1962 Monterey Jazz Festival, when Dizzy Gillespie sponsored Sete's appearance both in his band and as a soloist; Vince attended the latter set and helped persuade Fantasy Records to sign the Brazilian guitarist ... and, not incidentally, devoted much of the next several years to touring and recording with him. Fred Marshall (bass) and Jerry Granelli (drums) round out the quartet here, and the results are some deliciously smooth Brazilian-style jazz riffs: nothing fancy, to be sure, but it definitely goes down easy.

The album opens with a whimsical Guaraldi original, "Casaba," which offers sparkling interplay between the pianist's single-note runs and Sete's guitar backing. Guaraldi noodles his way through the melodic lead first, then starts comping chords as Sete moves to the foreground with some graceful guitar work; he then yields to an equally lovely solo from Marshall. Guaraldi and Sete bring the eight-minute cue home together, and even a casual listener can't help wanting to clap with admiration.

(Guaraldi would re-visit this composition at the conclusion of the 1960s, for his final LP; the tempo may be faster, and the arrangement slightly different, but "Jambo's" -- on Alma-Ville -- is most definitely the same tune as "Casaba.")

Sete then strums a lively opening to "Mambossa," which is pure samba: lilting and hypnotically compelling, and Guaraldi's vibrant interior solo, both chords than runs, matches Sete's intensity elsewhere. One imagines that both Guaraldi and Sete are smiling the entire time, as they hand the dominant melody line back and forth.

Guaraldi's fondness for Henry Mancini's work -- recall the lovely arrangement of "Moon River," on Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus -- is evident anew in the quartet's soft handling of "The Days of Wine and Roses." In its original movie context, as was the case with "Moon River," this also is a melancholy ballad; Sete captures this mood with the gentle solo that opens the track. When the other musicians come in, the tone is achingly poignant, the soft Latin treatment perfectly conveying the film's saga of a loving relationship shattered like a fragile goblet. Guaraldi takes his own solo toward the end of the track, and one can imagine his piano representing Jack Lemmon's woeful response to Sete's guitar, which earlier stood in for Lee Remick.

A mid-tempo handling of Horace Silver's "Moon Rays" brightens the mood again, with Sete inventively improvising against Guaraldi's repeated piano line. This is another long track, and both musicians get progressively more dynamic, as they trade the lead back and forth. The album's second Guaraldi original, "Star Song," is a charming little ballad with an intriguing backstory: The pianist composed the melody to the words of a poem that was sent to him by William Siden, a Pacific Gas & Electric employee.

"I got the melody from the lyrics," Guaraldi explains, in the liner notes. "I didn't change anything. I wrote music right to what he had there in the poem, and it fit all the way down." (Siden's poem, alas, has been lost in the mists of time.)

Although not one of Guaraldi's better-known original compositions, "Star Song" nonetheless became an anthem of sorts for the pianist, particularly during the 1960s. One senses that Guaraldi had high hopes for the song -- that perhaps it might become instrumental hit, like "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" -- but this was not to be.

(Fantasy credits "Mambossa" to Luiz Claudio de Castro, but that's not entirely correct; the track is Sete's arrangement of a 1961 Brazilian samba by de Castro, "Deixa a Nega Gingar." No doubt to de Castro's additional frustration, the BMI Repertoire Database, which represents more than 400,000 songwriters, composers and publishers, along with their more than 6.5 million works, cites Sete as sole composer of "Mambossa" ... both under his "stage name" of Bola Sete, and his original name, Djalma de Andrade.)

Vince and Bola



A 45 single was released (Fantasy 580X), with "The Days of Wine and Roses" and "Star Song."

This album and the third Guaraldi/Sete team-up, Live at El Matador, have been gathered together on the Fantasy CD Vince & Bola.





Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Bola Sete -- guitar
Fred Marshall -- bass
Jerry Granelli -- drums

Track listing:
"The Days of Wine and Roses"
"Casaba"
"Mambossa"
"Moon Rays"
"Star Song"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Casaba" (aka "Jambo's)
"Star Song"


Jazz Casual: Witherspoon

"Jazz Casual: Paul Winter/Bola Sete and Vince Guaraldi"

***

Bola Sete and Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

Koch Jazz KOC CD-8566

Originally televised September 25, 1963; CD released in 2001


Although the original air date is listed as September 25, 1963, Gleason comments, while hosting the show, on the atypically hot San Francisco summer, which suggests that the session probably was taped a month or two earlier. The two-part CD (the first half is from another episode, with the Paul Winter Sextet) has seven tracks devoted to Guaraldi and Sete, but only three cuts feature actual performances by Guaraldi and his trio (Fred Marshall, bass; Jerry Granelli, drums).

The program opens with a quiet reading of Jobim/DeMoraes' "Outra Vez," at a much mellower tempo than Guaraldi's quintet had presented the same song on Vince Guaraldi In Person. Viewers could see what San Francisco fans had known for years: that Sete smiles constantly as he plays, the broad grin reflecting his unfettered joy at being able to share this music that moves him so passionately. Guaraldi also grins frequently during this show, never more happily than when clearly impressed by one of Sete's improvisational runs; indeed, Sete works the guitar like a living thing, his entire body swaying back and forth during his solos. Marshall and Granelli are equally captivated, their eyes sometimes shut, as they simply abandon themselves to the rhythm and melody.

After explaining how Sete has been greatly influenced by American guitarist George Van Eps -- often dubbed "the father of the seven-string guitar" -- Gleason and the other three musicians retreat as Sete solos on Van Eps' "Tango El Bongo." Although the song's title suggests a raucous number, the piece actually is designed to showcase the guitarist's deft finger work; Sete doesn't disappoint, and the camera obligingly moves in for plenty of close-ups.

Sete then is joined by Marshall and Granelli for a droll handling of Dizzy Gillespie's "Tour de Force," with the guitarist once again bopping his entire body back and forth, and squinting in concentration as he works his way through the intricate finger work of the improvisational bridge. The impression conveyed is that Sete is barely restrained within the fleshy confines of his own body, as if his soul is straining to burst free and dance, invisibly, with the musical notes being caught by the overhead microphones.

Guaraldi, during these two songs, graciously remains to one side; he returns for the next number, a lovely reading of his "Star Song." Not a perfect reading, though; Guaraldi mis-times his intro, smothers one chord and then waits, counting quietly, until Sete's vamp affords another smooth entry point. Although the pianist soon takes one of his characteristically melodic solos, astute listeners might realize he's favoring his right hand, at the expense of his usually heavily rhythmic left hand. As sharp-eyed TV viewers spotted, Guaraldi has the best of reasons: The middle finger of his left hand is in a split. Although Guaraldi and the cameraman do their best to conceal this, observant viewers can see the white bandage at times. This undoubtedly explains why Sete receives the lion's share of close-ups during the entire program.

His injury notwithstanding, Guaraldi is all smiles and clearing enjoying himself as "Star Song" concludes, delighting in his efforts to duplicate Sete's rapid strums with note-for-note echoes on the piano keyboard. With time running short, the quartet immediately launches into "Mambossa" ... but -- sadly -- the song starts to fade (on TV, the credits flash and the screen goes dark) just as Guaraldi and Sete begin to trade riffs during the bridge.

Maddeningly, this set hasn't been released on DVD in the United States, although it was produced overseas; fans with region-free DVD players should be able to track down an international edition.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Bola Sete -- guitar
Fred Marshall -- bass
Jerry Granelli -- drums

Track Listing:
"Mambossa" [incomplete; fades out prematurely]
"Outra Vez"
"Star Song"
"Tango El Bongo"
"Tour de Force"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Star Song"


The Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi

"The Latin Side of Vince Guaraldi"

***

Vince Guaraldi

Fantasy 3360, 8360

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-878-2

Recorded in mid-1963; released in June 1964


Those who believe that jazz bands and string quartets are incompatible are advised to treat this album with suspicion; although it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, Guaraldi's decision to employ a string quartet as background on five of these numbers is dubious at best. The resulting "E-Z listening sound" only detracts from the otherwise pleasant work by Vince, Eddie Duran (guitar), Fred Marshall (bass), Jerry Granelli (drums), Bill Fitch (congas) and Benny Velarde (timbales).

Fitch and Velarde are front and center on the four string-less entries, starting with their gentle support on Guaraldi's samba-hued cover of the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse hit, "What Kind of Fool Am I," which demonstrates the pianist's deft ability to indulge in improvisational wandering while never losing track of the song's core melody. Nat Adderley's "Work Song" is much more vibrant, Guaraldi's Latin handling an engaging alternative to the version for which Herb Alperb and the Tijuana Brass would become famous.

A Guaraldi original, "Whirlpool," is a lovely ballad, which the pianist called a "Peggy Lee kind of thing" when describing it for Ralph Gleason, who fulfilled his usual duty on the album's liner notes. Fitch and Velarde once again dominate the percussion section. "Treat Street," another Guaraldi original, makes its album debut after having closed out the final chapter of the TV documentary Anatomy of a Hit, which Gleason made in 1963. "Treat Street" is a lively little finger-snapper with plenty of call-and-response between Guaraldi, Fitch and Velarde; the prominent congas aside, one can detect anticipatory echoes of the numerous themes Guaraldi soon would write for the world's most loveable blockhead.

Guaraldi's handling of "Mr. Lucky," his third cover of a Mancini tune in as many albums, starts off as a gently swinging, mid-tempo trio arrangement ... at which point the strings -- much too loud -- intrude quite obnoxiously. Indeed, they all but drown out Guaraldi, Marshall and Granelli in spots. Fortunately, the strings are less obnoxious on Guaraldi's exquisite reading of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Corcovado," which would have sounded right at home on the Black Orpheus album; Guaraldi's improvisational bridge is charming. Eddie Duran finally pops up on a lively cover of Luiz Bonfa's "Dor Que Faz Doer," another song that would have been welcome amid the Black Orpheus tracks.

Guaraldi's "Brasilia" has an edgy, ominous undertone: the fictitious soundtrack for a macabre, tension-laden samba that concludes when one lover stabs the other. The album's final track is yet another rendition of Guaraldi's "Star Song," the repetition perhaps motivated by the pianist's desire to hear his tune accompanied by the string section. Sadly, as is true of all the tracks with strings, these four additional instruments intrude, rather than complement, leaving listeners to wonder why Guaraldi would have wanted to clutter up his trio's music so unnecessarily.

All in all, this is pleasant background music, but it lacks Guaraldi's usual jazz chops.

As a point of interest, the strings are arranged by Jack Weeks, who performed similar duties on Cal Tjader's Latin for Lovers ... and, perhaps more importantly, was the third member of Tjader's very early trio that also included Guaraldi.

A 45 single was released (Fantasy 571X), with "Treat Street" and "Mr. Lucky."

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Fred Marshall -- bass
Jerry Granelli -- drums
Bill Fitch -- congas
Benny Velarde -- timbales

Track listing:
"Brasilia"
"Corcovado (Quiet Nights)"
"Dor Que Faz Doer"
"Mr. Lucky"
"Star Song"
"Treat Street"
"What Kind of Fool Am I?"
"Whirlpool"
"Work Song"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Brasilia"
"Star Song"
"Treat Street"
"Whirlpool"


Jazz Impressions

"Jazz Impressions"

****

Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy 3359, 8359

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-287-2

Recorded April 1956 and April 1957; released in March 1964


This is one of those annoying albums that functions as something of a clandestine "greatest hits" collection. You'd never know it from the title or liner notes, but all eight of these tracks previously appeared on Guaraldi's Vince Guaraldi Trio and A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing albums. The packaging even is a bit deceptive, because "Room at the Bottom" is a new title for "Like a Mighty Rose." No doubt Fantasy, wanting to further capitalize on Guaraldi's blossoming fame, rushed this release into print and hoped that nobody would notice. (Well, I noticed!) Those who already own the two aforementioned albums will not need this one, although it's certainly a nice collection of material by the trio of Vince on piano, Eddie Duran on guitar, and Dean Reilly on bass.

For the record, "Django," "Fenwyck's Farfel" and "Three Coins in the Fountain" previously appeared on The Vince Guaraldi Trio, while "Yesterdays," "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," "Willow Weep for Me," "Autumn Leaves" and "Room at the Bottom" (then known as "Like a Mighty Rose") previously appeared on A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Dean Reilly -- bass

Track listing:
"Autumn Leaves"
"Django"
"Fenwyck Farfel"
"A Flower Is a Lovesone Thing"
"Room at the Bottom" [aka "Like a Mighty Rose"]
"Three Coins in the Fountain"
"Willow Weep for Me" "Yesterdays"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Fenwyck's Farfel"
"Room at the Bottom"


From All Sides

"From All Sides"

***

Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete

Fantasy 3362, 8362

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy OJCCD-989-2

Recorded in late winter/early spring 1964 and January 1965; released February 1965


This, the second of Guaraldi's collaborative albums with Bola Sete, easily could be mistaken for one of the jazz pianist's collections of Peanuts themes, since the first several cuts -- albeit under different titles -- will be very familiar to fans of Charlie Brown's animated adventures.

The first of these eight leisurely tracks, a Guaraldi "original" dubbed "Chorro" -- later to gain new life in Charlie Brown's neighborhood, under the title "Schroeder's Wolfgang" -- is a rather audacious attempt by the pianist to claim credit for merely arranging an extremely familiar classical piece: the first movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K550. That said, it has been transformed into a lively salsa number, with Guaraldi and Sete trading riffs and ambitious improvs: a quintessential up-tempo example of the smooth and seemingly flawless manner in which both soloists integrate their sound. As was the case during their shared appearance on television's Jazz Casual, the most fun comes when Guaraldi cleverly mimics Sete's guitar strums.

"Menino Pequeno da Bateria," for which Guaraldi also rather boldly claims writing credit, will sound even more familiar to anybody with a fondness for the pianist's work on A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's a gentle, bossa nova rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" (re-titled "My Little Drum" when used in that TV score). Guaraldi's approach here is strongly reminiscent of the gently swaying Jobim/de Moraes hit, "The Girl from Ipanema," with Sete's romantic guitar themes nicely balanced by Jerry Granelli's percussion work.

(The Portuguese-language title, however, isn't quite right. The final word should be Baterista, and one wonders whether to blame Guaraldi or Fantasy for this translational hiccup.)

Guaraldi's attention-grabbing "Ballad of Pancho Villa" has a striking Peanuts vibe: an anticipatory percursor to "Linus and Lucy" and "Christmas Is Coming." It's a sparkling pop anthem, dominated by Guaraldi and Granelli, which begs the obvious question: Were lyrics ever considered, and what might they have been?

"Little Fishes," a collaborative effort by Sete and Eva Konrad, has a strong classical feel: a mid-tempo guitar sonata with a lengthy first movement that showcases Sete and Granelli's fine brushwork. Guaraldi then kicks in a light-hearted solo dominated by his single-note runs, after which Sete demonstrates the classical-style chops that turned him into such a crowd-pleasing favorite during his lengthy solo appearances at San Francisco's Sheraton Palace.

The set list also includes a fresh interpretation of Guaraldi's "Ginza," which had been part of the pianist's first Fantasy album, back in 1955. The new arrangement is a bit slower, and not nearly as frantic as the first time around, but the tune still grants an impressive workout to both Guaraldi and Sete, as their keyboard and guitar runs weave in and out of each other.

"Mambeando," a Sete original, evokes the rhythm of ocean waves gently washing onto a beach; its "cool" samba beat grants Guaraldi a lengthy interior solo that's more mood than melody. The entire track is atmospheric, but Sete's guitar work makes Guaraldi's redundant background chord comping less irritating than the similarly freestyle tracks on several of the Latin-hued Tjader albums that included his talents.

Inevitably, Guaraldi and Sete had to put their own stamp on "The Girl from Ipanema." Guaraldi takes the melody line first, then yields to Sete; they trade back and forth as the gentle arrangement continues, their instruments conversing far more eloquently than mere words could convey. Although Astrud Gilberto's iconic vocal -- accompanied by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz, and released in 1964 -- will forever remain this song's gold standard, Guaraldi and Sete put plenty of sensual warmth into their version, as well.

The final track, a Latinized arrangement of the pop hit "A Taste of Honey," gets plenty of room to breathe, at almost seven minutes. Perhaps too much room; although Sete's lengthy guitar solo is masterful as always, the background percussion line is a deliberately redundant montuno that quickly becomes boring. Additionally, Guaraldi's solo is less melodic than usual: closer to the "free jazz" style more typical of the time he spent with Tjader's quintet in the late 1950s, as that combo slid further into the beat-heavy sound dominated by congas and bongos.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Bola Sete -- guitar
Fred Marshall, Monty Budwig -- bass
Jerry Granelli, Nick Nartinez -- drums

Track listing:
"Ballad of Pancho Villa"
"Choro"
"Ginza"
"The Girl from Ipanema"
"Little Fishes"
"Mambeando"
"Menino Pequeno da Bateria"
"A Taste of Honey"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Ballad of Pancho Villa"
"Choro" (actually a variation on the first movement, Molto Allegro, of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G-minor, K. 550)
"Ginza"
"Menino Pequeno da Bateria"


A Boy Named Charlie Brown (TV)

"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" (TV)

*****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy 5017, 85017, 8430

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy FCD-8430-2

Recorded in October 1964; released in December 1964


Although the entire country dates its first exposure to Guaraldi's signature Peanuts themes with his score for A Charlie Brown Christmas, the music on this album preceded that seasonal animated special ... by an entire year! A Boy Named Charlie Brown would have been a "documentary" about Chuck and his friends, very much in the style of A Man Called Mays, which Lee Mendelson produced in 1963. Many of Guaraldi's famous themes -- including "Linus and Lucy" -- were written for this never-aired half-hour show (believe it or not, Mendelson couldn't find a sponsor), although of course they all were used many times during subsequent Peanuts installments. The importance of this album and its successor, the score to the Christmas special, cannot be overstated; rarely has an entertainment icon been so quickly -- and firmly -- welded to a musical composition ... indeed, to an entire body of work from one individual. Guaraldi defined the Peanuts sound, and it's just as true today as it was in the 1960s.

The compositions themselves are uniformly sparkling; it's as if the jazz pianist and his trio -- Monty Budwig, bass; Colin Bailey, drums -- had been waiting for this precise inspiration. As befits the original documentary approach, many of these cuts were designed to introduce and accompany specific characters: "The Charlie Brown Theme," "Linus and Lucy," "Schroeder" and "Frieda (With the Naturally Curly Hair)."

Guaraldi's lilting treatment of "Oh, Good Grief" negates the sting present in the song's lyrics, as heard in the never-aired TV documentary; it's a jovial little melody that evokes the image of a happy child strutting down the sidewalk ... perhaps not everybody's idea of Charlie Brown's typical bearing, but you can't argue with the music. Perhaps that explains the creation of a second tune for the world's favorite blockhead: Guaraldi's "Charlie Brown Theme" is a bit more pensive and wary. One can imagine this theme being played as poor Chuck backs away from the football yet again, all reason arguing that he still shouldn't trust Lucy not to pull it away, but somehow compelled to hope for the best.

"Blue Charlie Brown" is by no means melancholy, as the title might suggest; the first word should be taken more in its jazz sense, and as an excuse for Guaraldi and Budwig to sashay during a lengthy mid-tempo tune that's more improv than melody. For all its bluesy sass, however, there's still a trace of wistfulness, perhaps making this an ideal tune for Charlie Brown as he sits by himself during the school lunch break, chewing a peanut-butter sandwich that inevitably sticks to the roof of his mouth, as he wonders aloud whether he'll ever have the nerve to chat with the Little Red-Haired Girl.

Speaking of girls with striking tresses, "Frieda" is a droll, bouncy finger-snapper that opens with an attention-getting two-note bass statement, before launching into a saucy strut that perfectly conveys one of the lesser -- and, these days, largely forgotten -- characters from the 1960s Peanuts universe. Frieda was always extolling the virtues of her "naturally curly hair," an act of self-absorbed female egoism Guaraldi deftly suggests with this mildly naughty-sounding tune.

Fantasy's first printing of this LP -- titled Jazz Impressions of A Boy Named Charlie Brown -- was an impressive production: a "gatefold" album jacket with a cartoonish image of Guaraldi stealing Lucy's affections from Schroeder on the cover, with Linus and Charlie Brown lending some jazz licks in the background. The back cover pictured a dozen original Charles Schulz drawings of the members of the Peanuts gang; all 12 of these were reproduced in a larger 8-by-10 format, as frame-ready "posters" that were slipped inside the gatefold. Needless to say, vintage LPs with the posters intact are simply never seen any more. Once Fantasy exhausted the first printing, the cover art was changed to what we see today, and the album was re-packaged in a standard, single-sleeve LP jacket, with the shorter title we know today.

Fantasy's CD re-issue includes a bonus track: a long (nine minutes!) cover of "Fly Me to the Moon," from one of the trio's many live club sessions; it's a great toe-tapper and a sad reminder of the many hours and hours and hours of live material that never got recorded.

Original cover front Original cover back

A 45 single was released (Fantasy 593X), with "Linus and Lucy" and "Oh, Good Grief!"

This album's version of "Linus and Lucy" also appears on A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits. These versions of "Charlie Brown Theme" and "Schroeder" also appear on Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig -- bass
Colin Bailey -- drums

Track listing:
"Baseball Theme"
"Blue Charlie Brown"
"Charlie Brown Theme"
"Frieda (With the Naturally Curly Hair)"
"Happiness Is"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Oh, Good Grief!"
"Pebble Beach"
"Schroeder"

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them


The Grace Cathedral Concert

"The Grace Cathedral Concert"

****

Vince Guaraldi

Fantasy 3367, 8367

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy FCD-9678-2

Recorded live May 21, 1965, in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral; released in September 1965


Lots of musicians have composed for singers and for themselves; not too many have composed for God. The Reverend Charles Gompertz, like many other church leaders during the 1960s, wanted to make worship more "approachable" to a society turned nearly upside-down by the beat generation and flower children; he hit upon the concept of a "modern setting for the choral Eucharist," and turned to Vince Guaraldi.

The results are impressive, even at this late date. During much of the service, Guaraldi provides quiet piano support behind prayers (and you'll immediately hear the subtle samba stylings that he liked so much), but he and his trio -- Tom Beeson (bass) and Lee Charlton (drums) -- are by no means overlooked.

The album is a blend of three elements: spoken (or chanted) prayers and greetings, vocals with the choir, and purely instrumental selections. Guaraldi's piano and Charlton's drums are miked well, but Beeson's bass work is very difficult to distinguish; more often than not, he can't be heard at all.

Bishop Pike both opens and closes the LP, with no support from the musicians. Guaraldi quietly comps chords behind the call-and-response prayers between the chorus and the Rev. David A. Crump, during the "Sursum Corda" and "The Lord's Prayer"; Guaraldi concludes the latter with a progression of three truly lovely minor chords.

Several of the choir and trio collaborations -- such as "Sanctus," "Agnus Dei (O Lamb of God)" and "Gloria in Excelsis" -- display a light, almost whimsical bossa-nova touch. The "Kyrie Eleison" emerges as a jazzy, mid-tempo waltz: almost too lively for the setting. (Nobody would have wanted any parishioners to start dancing in the aisles.) Guaraldi also has fun with his harmonic accompaniment to the equally sparkling "Come Holy Ghost."

"Come With Us, O Blessed Jesus" allows Guaraldi a spirited, jazz club-style piano solo in between verses by the choir. Charlton lays down a nice beat for "Adore Devote," and Guaraldi lends a suitably solemn touch to the choir's performance by "shimmering" much of his accompaniment; he does the same during the choir's chanting during the "Nicene Creed (I Believe)."

Two selections are purely instrumental: "Holy Communion Blues" and "In Remembrance of Me." The latter is an achingly poignant piano solo: not quite a memorable melody as such, but certainly more structured than free-associated notes and chords. The lengthy "Holy Communion Blues" (11:12) opens much like "In Remembrance of Me," with a similar piano solo, then segues into lovely jazz waltz that progresses through several distinct movements; Beeson takes excellent advantage of this one time when his bass can be heard quite clearly.

"Theme to Grace" also begins with a piano solo, then blossoms into a mid-tempo trio work as members of the choir hum quietly in the background, Guaraldi's keyboard noodling providing a perfect harmonic counterpoint. He and Charlton then deliver a toe-tapping interlude without the chorus, and finally Guaraldi returns to the primary melody as the choir resumes with impeccably timed refrains of "Hallelujah!" This track builds to a dramatically satisfying climax and conclusion, which undoubtedly led to its release as a single.

As a point of interest, Guaraldi did not name the music tracks. Gompertz handled this assignment, when he was summoned by Fantasy Records shortly after the Mass took place on May 21, 1965; the service had been one long, uninterrupted event, of course, and Fantasy needed Gompertz to divide the resulting tapes into "chunks" that would make sense in the context of a commercially released album.

You'll spot an occasional fluff -- Guaraldi must've been incredibly nervous, during this historic, one-shot performance -- but nothing too distracting. I only wish more local churches followed this example...
Grace Cathedral CD




A 45 single was released (Fantasy 606X), with "Theme to Grace" and "Adore Devote (Humbly I Adore Thee)."

Fantasy's CD release has an entirely different cover.





Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Tom Beeson -- bass
Lee Charlton -- drums

Track listing:
(Tracks without music are noted by an asterisk. All other tracks feature Guaraldi's trio and the 68-voice choir from St. Paul's Church of San Rafael.)

"The Bishop's Greeting" [Spoken] *
"Kyrie Eleison"
"Come With Us O Blessed Jesus"
"Nicene Creed (I Believe)" [Choral prayer, with piano flourishes]
"Come Holy Ghost"
"Theme to Grace"
"Sursum Corda and Sanctus" [Opens with a prayer, with gentle piano flourishes]
"The Lord's Prayer" [Choral prayer, with gentle piano flourishes]
"Agnus Dei (O Lamb of God)"
"Holy Communion Blues" [Trio only]
"Adore Devote (Humbly I Adore Thee)"
"In Remembrance of Me" [Piano solo]
"Gloria in Excelsis" [Choral prayer, with trio flourishes]
"Blessing" [Spoken, delivered by Bishop James A. Pike] *

Guaraldi compositions:
"Holy Communion Blues"
"In Remembrance of Me"
"Theme to Grace"


The Navy Swings

"The Navy Swings"

****

Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete

No LP release

VAG Publishing LLC

Recording dates unknown, although probably the summer of 1965; released on CD in April 2010.


Go Navy! The Navy Swings was a weekly, 15-minute public service radio show broadcast from 1957 through 1970, which gave countless jazz stars an opportunity to demonstrate their chops for an appreciate audience no doubt delighted to bring a little swing into their lives. The format was the same each week: A host -- George Fenneman, Jack Haskell and Don Wilson traded off, over the years -- would introduce the guests and allow them to play a mini-concert of three or four short numbers, each followed by a short and stirring message from "your local Navy recruiter."

Various labels have released compilations of performances by some of the jazz stars who appeared on the broadcasts over the years: Sounds of Yesteryear released the music from four appearances by George Shearing, and another set of four shows by Peggy King backed by the Andre Previn Trio, and another with Red Nichols and his Five Pennies, backing singer Marion Morgan, and so forth. Shelley Manne's segments were issued by the Studio West label in 2002.

Vince and his trio did four of these shows, all of which also featured Bola Sete. All four shows were hosted by Don Wilson, and likely were recorded at the same time. They were recorded and released on LPs -- one show per side -- albeit not granted commercial distribution; as a result, they're very hard to find. Vince's sidemen aren't listed, but after a careful listen, drummer Lee Charlton seemed satisfied that he and bassist Tom Beeson did the work. That dates the sessions to 1965; since Guaraldi, Sete, Beeson and Charlton were in Southern California early that summer, this seems a logical guess. Happily, a CD re-issue was produced in April 2010, and is available via Vince Guaraldi's official Web site, at www.vinceguaraldi.com.

Each week's guest always opened with a reading of the "Navy Swings" main theme. Guaraldi and his trio then segue, in the first program, to a nice (if slightly abbreviated) rendition of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." Sete joins the trio for a quick reading of "Choro," followed by "The Girl from Ipanema." The second program opens with a lively trio rendition of Henry Mancini's "Mr. Lucky," and then Sete contributes a lovely guitar solo to open a slow and breezy rendition of "The Days of Wine and Roses." Guaraldi's trio cooks on a sultry, finger-snapping version of "Limehouse Blues," and this program closes with "I Could Write a Book," also by the trio.

Sete is much more prominant in the third program, which opens with "Samba de Orpheus," and then segues to "Star Song." Sete takes the melodic lead in "Valsa de Uma Cidade (Waltz of a City)," and that's pretty much it for that visit. The fourth show opens with a tasty cover of "What Kind of Fool Am I" by Vince's trio; Bola then shines during a spirited rendition of "One Note Samba," and then the trio -- without Bola -- delivers covers of "Lollypops and Roses" and "What Is This Thing Called Love." Cue a final announcement, and the trio concludes with another spirited rendition of the "Navy Swings" main theme.

These are marvelous recordings, made during the height of Guaraldi's collaborations with Sete, which (of course!) deserve much wider distribution.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Bola Sete -- guitar
Tom Beeson -- bass
Lee Charlton -- drums

Track listing:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Choro"
"The Days of Wine and Roses"
"The Girl from Ipanema"
"I Could Write a Book"
"Limehouse Blues"
"Lollipops and Roses"
"Mr. Lucky"
"One-Note Samba"
"Samba de Orpheus"
"Star Song"
"Valsa de Uma Cidade (Waltz of a City)"
"What Is This Thing Called Love?"
"What Kind of Fool Am I?"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Choro"
"Star Song"


A Charlie Brown Christmas

"A Charlie Brown Christmas"

*****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy 8431

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy FCD-8431-2

Recorded in spring and summer 1965; released in December 1965; debut TV broadcast on December 9, 1965


Back people into a corner and limit them to just one holiday album for the rest of their lives, and I suspect that an impressive number of folks -- jazz fans or not -- would select this one.

And not just for Guaraldi's original Peanuts material. The opening bars of this album's first track, the jazz pianist's take on the traditional "O Tannenbaum," immediately call both the album and the debut Peanuts TV special to mind; Guaraldi's reading of the familiar carol is that unique. He and his trio -- Fred Marshall, bass; Jerry Granelli, drums -- deliver equally exuberant and poignant covers of "What Child Is This" (aka "Greensleeves") and "The Christmas Song."

As for the Guaraldi originals...wow. "Linus and Lucy" reappears, of course, but Guaraldi also contributes a pair of up-tempo originals: the energetic "Christmas Is Coming" and the positively gorgeous "Skating," a tune that evokes falling winter snow like no other. But while he didn't live long enough to see this happen, Guaraldi's fame was cemented even further by "Christmas Time Is Here," a simple yet magnificent holiday tune that has become a seasonal fixture covered by darn near every musician of consequence. Countless new songs attempt to become part of the permanent Christmas musical lexicon; very few succeed ... but "Christmas Time Is Here" is one. Charlie Brown and his friends (or, rather, the off-camera children) sing one version, but the trio's extended instrumental reading is simply sublime.

Fantasy's CD reissue includes a bonus track: a longer version of "Greensleeves" with Guaraldi, Monty Budwig (bass) and Colin Bailey (drums). Only the newest pressings correct the original CD's long-incorrect credits; Marshall and Granelli actually performed the first 11 tracks, while Budwig and Bailey worked only on the bonus track.

A 45 single was released (Fantasy 608X), with "Christmas Time Is Here" and "What Child Is This."

This album's version of "Linus and Lucy" also appears on A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits. Both versions of "Christmas Time Is Here" appear on Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits.

Fantasy released a Super Audio CD version of this album on October 7, 2003; the catalog number is Fantasy FSA-8431-6. (See the write-up on Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus for a description of Super Audio CDs.)

A 2006 CD re-release of this album included several bonus tracks and alternate takes; this release's intriguing origins and eventual fate is discussed at length in a separate article devoted exclusively to this album, which can be read here.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Monty Budwig, Fred Marshall -- bass
Colin Bailey, Jerry Granelli -- drums

Track listing:
"Christmas Is Coming"
"The Christmas Song"
"Christmas Time Is Here" (vocal and instrumental)
"Fur Elise"
"Greensleeves"
"Hark, the Herald Angels Sing"
"Linus and Lucy"
"My Little Drum"
"O Tannenbaum"
"Skating"
"What Child Is This"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Christmas Is Coming"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"Linus and Lucy"
"My Little Drum"
"Skating"


Live at El Matador

"Live at El Matador"

****

Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete

Fantasy 3371, 8371

Re-issued on CD, paired with Vince Guaraldi/Bola Sete and Friends, as Vince and Bola (Fantasy FCD-24756-2)

Recorded live, probably in the spring of 1965, at San Francisco's El Matador; released October 1966


The third and final collaborative effort from Vince Guaraldi and Bola Sete isn't quite the team-up you might expect; the Bay Area pianist and Brazilian guitarist join for only two of the seven numbers on this live album, while the others feature only Vince and his trio (Tom Beeson on bass and Lee Charlton on drums, although the album's liner notes don't note this anywhere, thanks to Fantasy's sloppy record-keeping). The result is designed to partially reproduce the impeccably choreographed "concert show" that Guaraldi and Sete frequently presented at this point in their collaborative career: Guaraldi and his trio would take the stage first, for a brief set, followed by a solo set from Sete, and concluding when Guaraldi and his mates returned to the stage to join Sete for the finale. Well, this album gives us the first and final thirds of such a concert set, but not the middle part: no solos by Sete.

Guaraldi opens his portion with "El Matador," a stylish, finger-snapping original dedicated to this performance venue; he then segues to a whimsical reading of Lennon & McCartney's "I'm a Loser" and a smooth, samba-style cover of "More" (the theme from Mondo Cane). Guaraldi's second original, the Peanuts-styled "Nobody Else," makes the first of its two appearances on his albums; compare this live rendition with the studio version that pops up later, on 1969's The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi. The trio's final selection, which actually appears after Sete's contribution to this album, is a pleasant, breezy rendition of "People," the signature song from Funny Girl.

Sete then joins the band, beginning with a lyrical solo as he opens "O Morro Nao Tem Vez (Somewhere in the Hills)," a song also known as "Favala." The trio joins in, with Guaraldi and Sete trading the melody line back and forth, each also comping behind the other. Sete also opens with a guitar solo on the album's showpiece: The Black Orpheus Suite, actually a medley of "Manha de Carnaval" and "Samba de Orpheus." Sete plays most of "Manha" by himself, joined briefly only by Charlton's gentle brushes. It's a virtuoso guitar performance; even as a living room listening experience, Sete demonstrates the mastery that so impressed club patrons.

The arrangement kicks into a fiery tempo after roughly four minutes, Sete still accompanied only by Charlton. After another couple of minutes, Sete finally hands the melody off to Guaraldi, who matches Sete's previous solo with equal intensity. The entire quartet then brings the track to a ferocious conclusion that easily justifies the crowd's thunderous applause.

And, frankly, it's nice to hear that applause. Some of these tracks are marred by Fantasy's bewildering decision to eliminate the clapping, which results in some jarringly abrupt fades, most disturbingly on "I'm a Loser."

A 45 single was released (Fantasy 613X), with "I'm a Loser" and "Favela."

This album and the first Guaraldi/Sete team-up, Vince Guaraldi/Bola Sete and Friends, have been gathered together on the Fantasy CD Vince & Bola (see above for image of CD cover).

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Tom Beeson -- bass
Lee Charlton -- drums

Track listing:
"Black Orpheus Suite"
"El Matador"
"Favela"
"I'm a Loser"
"More"
"Nobody Else"
"People"

Guaraldi compositions:
"El Matador"
"Nobody Else"



With the San Francisco Boys Chorus

"Vince Guaraldi with the San Francisco Boys Chorus"

****

Vince Guaraldi

D&D VG-1116

Re-issued on CD as D&D VG-1116

Recorded late summer and early autumn 1967; released in December 1967


This is the album nobody knows about, the debut -- and sole -- release on Guaraldi's own D&D label, named for the first initials of his two children. The album has something of an identity crisis; although all eight cuts are presented in the breezy shuffle style that made Vince famous, half the tracks employ the San Francisco Boys Chorus for background coloring, while the others are conventional instrumentals with various quartets.

The four instrumental tracks, all of which feature Eddie Duran's guitar work and John Rae on drums, split the bass duties between Kelly Bryan and Roland Haynes. Bryan lent his support to Guaraldi's melancholy arrangement of The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby," which had become a frequent part of the pianist's public performances. Bryan also played on the two songs that Guaraldi "rescued" from industrial films made with Lee Mendelson, between Peanuts assignments.

The first, the samba-hued "Spice Island Theme," was the title theme from 1966's An Adventure with Spice Islands; the second, "Newport Theme," came from 1967's '67 West. It's a quintessential Guaraldi composition, graced by many of his signatures: his seemingly effortless keyboard noodlings, which somehow never stray too far from the melody line; the Jobim-esque percussion backdrop; and even the song's very structure, which opens with an introductory melody that is followed by a slightly reworked echo of same, then an improvisational bridge, and finally a restatement of the original melody.

Haynes replaced Bryan on the final instrumental, Guaraldi's arrangement of Richard Boyell's "Think Drink," a tune that had become famous in late 1966 as the catch-jingle for the International Coffee Organization, through a popular series of radio ads in a publicity campaign that launched in New York. Coffee, it was argued, could sharpen one's senses; thus, it was a true "think drink." Guaraldi's attraction to the song was understandable, since Boyell had a very similar, whimsical compositional style.

All four tracks with the San Francisco Boys Chorus feature Tom Beeson on bass, and Lee Charlton on drums. The choir actually sings only on Guaraldi's cover of Bob Dylans "Blowin' in the Wind," and the charming result reminds one why the song has been -- and remains -- so popular as a campfire sing-along.

Guaraldi couldn't resist the opportunity to re-visit his "Theme to Grace" with this chorus, which sounds similar to the version on his Grace Cathedral album, until his much more generous keyboard interlude midway through the track.

The choir's participation on Guaraldi's "Monterey" and "My Little Drum," however, is somewhat forced; the boys do little beyond repetitive refrains of the words "Monterey" and "tiddly-pum," respectively. "My Little Drum" is essentially the same as Guaraldi's arrangement of "The Little Drummer Boy," from his Charlie Brown Christmas album, where it sounds much better. "Monterey," alas, only appears on this album ... and the choir's involvement gets in the way of the trio's efforts at actual jazz.

Two singles from this album also were issued by Guaraldi's label. The first is D&D VG1000S/1001S, with "Blowing in the Wind" on the A side, and "Monterey" on the B side. The second is D&D VG1325 326/327, with "Eleanor Rigby" on the A side, and "Peppermint Patty" on the B side, as performed by a group dubbed "The Vince Guaraldi Consort" -- see below for personnel -- and arranged and conducted by John Scott Trotter (!). This is fascinating, because "Peppermint Patty" isn't on this album!

The listeners' loss, to be sure. This lively version of "Peppermint Patty" is brass-heavy and quite amusing, starting with the blapp that punctuates every eighth beat, as if the wah-wah voice of Charlie Brown's teacher had been co-oped for jazz shading. The horns enter much more forcefully during the bridge, where the brass and keyboard give-and-take becomes even more raucously droll.

Happily, this track was included -- along with an alternate version of "Newport Theme" -- when the album made its CD debut in 2005. The liner notes for that reissue CD are by Ye Humble Site Master himself, Derrick Bang ... who was delighted beyond words to be affiliated with the project.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Tom Beeson, Kelly Bryan, Roland Haynes -- bass
Lee Charlton, John Rae -- drums

The Vince Guaraldi Consort:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
John Gray -- guitar
Frank Rosolino -- trombone
Ronald Lang -- woodwinds
Monty Budwig -- bass
John Rae -- drums

Track listing:
"Blowin' in the Wind"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"Monterey"
"My Little Drum"
"Newport Theme"
"Peppermint Patty"
"Spice Island Theme"
"Theme to Grace"
"Think Drink"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Monterey"
"My Little Drum"
"Newport Theme"
"Peppermint Patty"
"Spice Island Theme"
"Theme to Grace"


Oh, Good Grief!

"Oh, Good Grief!"

*****

Vince Guaraldi

Warner Bros. WS 1747-2

Re-issued on CD as Warner Bros. 1747-2

Recorded on March 22, 1968; released in May 1968


Not too many artists get an opportunity to rework their own material, but Guaraldi certainly does that here, on his debut Warners album. Although all eight tracks on this maddeningly short (only 27 minutes!) album are Peanuts compositions, they're (mostly) presented in a manner wholly unlike the quieter trio sound found on A Boy Named Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas. Guaraldi works with a quartet this time -- longtime buddy Eddie Duran on guitar, Stanley Gilbert on bass, and Carl Burnett on drums -- and also supplements his familiar piano with an electric harpsichord (sometimes, thanks to the miracle of overdubbing, on the same track).

The result is a delight: the jazziest, swinging-est collection of his Peanuts themes that Guaraldi ever released. Although these arrangements won't call any particular TV scenes to mind, I always think of the dance party that breaks out during the play rehearsal in A Charlie Brown Christmas; all this music is just incredibly fun.

Guaraldi sticks solely with acoustic piano on only two tracks, both of which are the slowest and most lyrical efforts: "Great Pumpkin Waltz" and "Rain, Rain Go Away." Vince opens the latter with an extended piano solo before the combo adds support, and Duran delivers a lovely guitar solo in front of gentle piano comping.

The remaining tracks are up-tempo arrangements of familiar Peanuts melodies, such as "You're in Love, Charlie Brown," "Peppermint Patty," "He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown" (incorrectly titled "It's Your Dog, Charlie Brown") and "Oh, Good Grief." Thanks to the magic of overdubbing -- a definite, if fairly simple, technological evolution from all previous albums -- Guaraldi plays both piano and electric harpsichord on all these tracks, usually leading with one instrument and comping with the second.

The album opens with a smokin' arrangement of "Linus and Lucy," dominated by Guaraldi's percussive piano attack in the foreground, augmented by harpsichord shading in the background. His acoustic improv bridges never have been better, making this his most vibrant recorded version of what, by now, had become his second signature tune, after "Cast Your Fate to the Wind."

The album's stand-out track, though, is "Red Baron," which opens with a similarly ferocious left-hand piano vamp and then cuts to a fast-paced arrangement of the melody on both piano and harpsichord. Duran once again is granted a tasty guitar solo.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano, electric harpsichord
Eddie Duran -- electric guitar
Stanley Gilbert -- bass
Carl Burnett -- drums

Track listing:
"Great Pumpkin Waltz"
"It's Your Dog, Charlie Brown"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Oh, Good Grief!"
"Peppermint Patty"
"Rain, Rain Go Away"
"Red Baron"
"You're in Love, Charlie Brown"

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them


The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi

"The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi"

***

Vince Guaraldi

Warner Bros. WS 1775

Re-issued on CD as Wounded Bird CD WOU-1775

Recorded in late 1968 and early 1969; released in March 1969


Everybody's allowed to be grotesquely self-indulgent once, but this overproduced album -- at times an EZ-listening travesty, at other times clearly influenced by Guaraldi's fascination with acid rock -- is well-named even by the most magnanimous standards. The finished LP wasn't merely eclectic; it was downright uneven and unfocused, as if Guaraldi hadn't the slightest idea which artistic direction to turn. These nine tracks are all over the map, and under no circumstances could most be called jazz. An ambitious string section -- seven violins, two violas and two celli -- provides backdrop on four tracks, including two numbers by seminal 1960s folk musician James Timothy "Tim" Hardin, which Guaraldi selected for his recorded vocal debut. Let's be generous and say that Vince's vocals here aren't up to the whimsical standards he established on various TV renditions of the Peanuts songs "Joe Cool" and "Little Birdie," and let it go at that.

Guaraldi's traditional acoustic jazz persona is represented by two tracks: a lyrical original tune dubbed "Once I Loved" and his cover of the pop hit "It Was a Very Good Year." Both are performed as quartets -- piano, guitar, bass and drums -- and Guaraldi's melodic keyboard solos hearken back to his early days. His longtime fans would have felt right at home.

Not so with two other original compositions -- "Lucifer's Lady" and "Coffee and Doe-Nuts" -- which hail from the opposite end of the spectrum. Both are lengthy rock jams that kick off with brief keyboard melodies before zooming into the outer space of crazed guitar solos and random keyboard improvs that lack any trace of melody.

Two tracks -- Guaraldi's "Nobody Else" and his cover of The Beatles' "Yesterday" -- could have been quiet, lyrical trio arrangements, but the tasty jazz elements of both are submerged beneath overly loud and frequently intrusive string flourishes. Guaraldi and Bola Sete delivered a far superior arrangement of "Nobody Else" on their Live at El Matador album; decades later, the Eclectic version of this lyrical little song reappeared, but (thankfully!) without the string section, on a CD collection of mostly Peanuts underscore cues, titled The Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials, Volume 2.

The string section also backs up Guaraldi's two vocals, on Hardin's "Black Sheep Boy" and "Reason to Believe," the latter one of the cult folkie's signature tunes. Guaraldi's voice is untrained at best, off-key at worst, and ill-advised in both cases. He compounds the felony by overdubbing his own backing vocals as "Reason to Believe" concludes.

The electric harpsichord, finally, appears on only one track: a clumsy cover of Sonny and Cher's wildly popular hit, "The Beat Goes On." The harpsichord's limitations are strikingly apparent: an absence of inflection and shading, along with an inability to "sustain" a note into a pleasant fade. Every note either "pops" quickly into silence, or lingers at precisely the same volume, like a stuck car horn. Guaraldi bounces along the keys like a nervous chipmunk, clearly struggling to make the tune swing; he fails completely.

Guaraldi also produced this album, which clearly was recorded during several different sessions with two electric bass players (Bob Maize and Jim McCabe), two musicians on electric guitar (Robert Addison and Eddie Duran), two on drums (Gerald Granelli and Al Coster), and Peter Marshall on acoustic bass ... not to mention all those folks on strings. The credits also claim that Guaraldi plays guitar, but in the complete absence of liner notes -- not to mention the overdubbing and extensive mixing -- it's impossible to determine where.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano, electric harpsichord
Eddie Duran, Robert Addison -- electric guitar
Peter Marshall -- bass
Bob Maize, Jim McCabe -- electric bass
Jerry Granelli, Al Coster -- drums

Track listing:
"The Beat Goes On"
"Black Sheep Boy"
"Coffee and Doe-Nuts"
"It Was a Very Good Year"
"Lucifer's Lady"
"Nobody Else"
"Once I Loved"
"Reason to Believe"
"Yesterday"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Coffee and Doe-Nuts"
"Lucifer's Lady"
"Nobody Else"


Alma-Ville

"Alma-Ville"

*****

Vince Guaraldi

Warner Bros. WS 1828

Re-issued on CD as Wounded Bird CD WOU-1828

Recorded in late 1969; released in early 1970 (probably January or February)


From the "eclectic"...to the sublime.

If his previous album was one of Guaraldi's strangest and least accessible, then Alma-Ville was a return to great things. This is a marvelous jazz project, showing off Guaraldi's still-growing talents as both a performer and a songwriter. Six of these nine cuts are originals; the other three are beautiful covers of ballads, rendered in the style to which the jazz pianist returned here with a vengeance. The album was assembled with several different combos on an equal number of studio dates.

A fast-paced original composition Guaraldi titled "Rio from the Air" has pleasant echoes of Guaraldi's association with Bola Sete ... along with a nod to the classic "Sweet Georgia Brown." One can imagine "Rio from the Air" playing as passengers approach the eponymous city during a plane flight; Guaraldi's lively melody line gets ample support from Sebastio Neto on bass, Dom um Ramao on drums, and Rubens Bassini on percussion. This combo joined Guaraldi only for this track.

Another session featured Eddie Duran on guitar, Kelly Bryan on bass, and Al Coster on drums. They spent a day recording four tracks, beginning with a full-length version of the "Masked Marvel" theme, which had just debuted in It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. Guaraldi and Duran have a lot of fun on this track, trading the melody line and improv bridges back and forth, each comping behind the other. Next up is a sultry cover of Duke Pearson's "Cristo Redentor," which Guaraldi arranges with a languid, bluesy opening movement. Then, having put listeners into a relaxed and quiet mood, Duran ramps up the tempo with a guitar bridge, as the song blossoms into a lively bossa nova number, with Guaraldi delivering a ferocious keyboard solo. Rather than sit on the sidelines, now one wishes to hit the dance floor.

This combo's third selection is a tasty cover of the Michel Legrand/Norman Gimbel song "Watch What Happens," from the film The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Guaraldi arranges it as a lively little ballad, and Duran shines once again during an interior guitar solo. Guaraldi shows off his own lead guitar chops on this group's fourth and final track, another of his own original compositions, "Uno y Uno." The straight-time tune isn't terribly complicated, although Guaraldi displays the same facility for catchy melodic hooks. Perhaps not wanting to push his luck, Guaraldi keeps it short and simple; at just a few seconds over two minutes, it's by far the album's briefest track.

The final recording session, a few weeks later, was a reunion of old friends; the featured sidemen were Monty Bugwig on bass, Colin Bailey on drums, and Herb Ellis on guitar. Their first track is a whimsical Guaraldi original titled "Detained in San Ysidro," which comes about as close as the pianist ever got to an unusual time signature, in the style of Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond or Don Ellis. Although this composition counts out in standard 4/4, Guaraldi's inventive left-hand vamp suggests otherwise, particularly when blended with his right hand's counterpoint melody.

This quartet next tackles a fresh reading of "Alma-Ville," the Guaraldi original that lends its name to the album. Guaraldi's attack is busier and a bit faster here, compared to when the song first was recorded, for his Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus album. He uncorks a furious keyboard solo midway through the song, with Ellis comping with equal enthusiasm, as Budwig lends a strong percussive beat on bass. Indeed, it's fascinating to hear one of Guaraldi's original trios -- joined now by a guitarist -- take such a different approach to a tune they first had recorded eight years earlier.

By this point, "Eleanor Rigby" had become a staple of Guaraldi's live performance sets; he obviously felt comfortable enough with the arrangement, to include it on this album. Ellis sets the stage with a quiet vamp, and then Guaraldi delivers a rich, melancholy reading of the melody. It's never easy to convey the mood of a ballad -- particularly a lament -- when performing it as an instrumental. But just as he did with his cover of "Moon River," on the Black Orpheus album, Guaraldi deftly conveys this Beatles hit's despondent nature.

Lastly, Guaraldi brought Bassini back into the mix for the Latin-hued "Jambo's," which longtime fans would have recognized as "Casaba," one of the tracks from his first LP with Bola Sete. (Once again, we're left to wonder why Guaraldi wouldn't have simply have used the same title. Why call it something different?) No matter what the title, it's a lively, up-tempo bossa nova number graced with another of Guaraldi's catchy melodies.

Nobody knew, of course, that this would be Guaraldi's last album...but if he had to go out on any recording, this certainly makes a superb farewell; it's one of his best records ever.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano and guitar
Eddie Duran, Herb Ellis -- guitar
Sebastio Nero -- bass guitar
Kelly Bryan, Monty Budwig -- bass
Colin Bailey, Dom Um Romao, Al Coster -- drums
Rubens Bassini -- percussion

Track listing:
"Alma-Ville"
"Cristo Redentor"
"Detained in San Ysidro"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"Jambo's"
"The Masked Marvel"
"Rio from the Air"
"Uno Y Uno"
"Watch What Happens"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Alma-Ville"
"Detained in San Ysidro"
"Jambo's" (aka "Casaba")
"The Masked Marvel"
"Rio from the Air"
"Uno Y Uno"


A Boy Named Charlie Brown

"A Boy Named Charlie Brown" (film soundtrack)

***

Vince Guaraldi, Rod McKuen and John Scott Trotter

Columbia Masterwork OS 3500

Not yet available on CD

Recorded April 19, July 10, July 30, August 14 and October 14, 1969; film released December 4, 1969; album released in early 1970.


This album, not to be confused with Guaraldi's earlier release of the same name, is a music-and-dialog condensation of the Peanuts gang's first big-screen film. At roughly half the film's 85-minute running time, the record plays like a "book on tape" abridgement and certainly gives the listener enough to follow the complete storyline.

Although Guaraldi is credited for the original score, poet/musician Rod McKuen wrote the title song and two interior songs, and "musical director" John Scott Trotter -- also the arranger/conductor for most of the Peanuts TV specials -- supplied additional instrumental cuts. Since both sides of the album proceed like a radio play, you'll have trouble isolating distinct tracks, but Guaraldi contributes music in 10 sections, four on side one, and six on side two.

Most of Guaraldi's segments are underscore behind dialog, although brief introductions and between-scene "bumpers" showcase the jazz pianist at the top of his form. Various renditions of "Linus and Lucy" appear throughout the film, including up-tempo renditions with a nice flute line, and a somber minor key variation that accompanies Linus' search for his blanket. Brief versions of both "Charlie Brown's All Stars" and "Baseball Theme" pop up early on (and this is Guaraldi's only album recording of the former), along with a truncated segment from "Blue Charlie Brown." Things are better on side two; Guaraldi delivers a solid rendition of "Skating" that segues into a jazzy untitled hockey theme, both of which accompany Snoopy's ice rink hijinks. Aside from one quick comment from Linus, this purely instrumental sequence runs a solid two-and-a-half minutes. Guaraldi then contributes a nice combo reading of McKuen's "Champion Charlie Brown," and Vince's final appearance here comes with a brief portion from a non-Peanuts theme: "Lucifer's Lady" (which appears in its full glory on The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi) ... an excerpt that's quite appropriately used behind Charlie Brown's climactic failed attempt to kick the football, since the cut's title clearly suggests that Lucy is "Lucifer's Lady"!

As one quick example of how Guaraldi's music so perfectly mirrors the finished film's many shifting moods, consider the segue from "Lucifer's Lady" to a lengthy version of the sprightly baseball anthem, "Charlie Brown's All-Stars," heard as Chuck happily heads down the sidewalk. This cue, perhaps even more than "Linus and Lucy," beautifully showcases the lively and yet simple keyboard work that Guaraldi made such a signature in his Peanuts scores; it's impossible to hear "Charlie Brown's All-Stars" in this scene, without breaking into a smile. With some subtle shading from the violins, this cue is all about optimism and that sense of wonder with which children greet every new day, knowing that something magical might happen.

Although McKuen supplied three vocal songs, the film also includes a fourth: Trotter wrote the music for the sing-song spelling tune, "I Before E," the lyrics for which were supplied by Bill Melendez and fellow animator Al Shean. This tune, chanted by Linus as a means of helping Charlie Brown learn some difficult spelling rules, performs that task with impressive efficiency; there's no doubt, were it to be used in grade-school classrooms, that children would remember many of its lessons.

The film's soundtrack was nominated for a 1970 Academy Award for Original Song Score, but Guaraldi, McKuen and Trotter lost to another rather popular quartet: The Beatles, for Let It Be.

Numerous recording sessions were employed to lay down the film's entire score, all supervised by Trotter. He and Guaraldi booked an impressive combo for one date; Guaraldi worked solely with trio sidemen Peter Marshall and Jerry Granelli on another.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Conte Candoli -- trumpet
Milton Bernhart -- trombone Herb Ellis -- guitar
Monty Budwig, Peter Marshall -- bass
Jack Sperling, Jerry Granelli -- drums
Victor Feldman -- percussion
(Plus assorted strongs and woodwinds)

Track listing:
Completely arbitrary, due to the nature of the album

Guaraldi compositions:
"Baseball Theme"
"Blue Charlie Brown"
"Charlie Brown's All-Stars"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Lucifer's Lady"
"Skating"



Greatest Hits

"Greatest Hits"

****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

Fantasy MPF 4505

Re-issued on CD as Fantasy FCD 4505-2, FCD 7706-2

Released in 1980


This compilation album, first issued in 1980 as an LP, suffers from two content flaws. Since it's issued by Fantasy, you'll not hear any of the tracks recorded on other labels, most notably Warners; this, at least, is to be expected. Perhaps more bewildering, though, is the absence of material from some of Vince's earliest solo albums. The tracks here are drawn from Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus and later Fantasy releases, meaning there's nothing from his first two albums. "Best of" compilations are highly arguable critters, of course, but I would have included "Django" and "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" before some of the other tracks that are on this album. It's a shame we get nothing from the two Fantasy sessions recorded with piano, guitar and bass.

Greatest Hits CD



That said, this is a good mix of "classic" Vince Guaraldi Trio performances -- "Treat Street," "Star Song" and (of course) "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" -- and songs recorded a bit later with Bola Sete; the final three tracks are taken from his Peanuts years. "Linus and Lucy" and "Christmas Time Is Here" pop up everywhere, of course, but it's nice to see "Oh, Good Grief" included.

A 14th track -- "Ginza Samba" -- was added when this album was released on CD in 1989.



Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
[See original recordings for sidemen]

Track listing:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"The Days of Wine and Roses"
"Ginza Samba"
"I'm a Loser"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Manha de Carnaval"
"Mr. Lucky"
"Oh, Good Grief"
"Outra Vez"
"Samba de Orpheus"
"Star Song"
"Treat Street"
"Zelao"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"Ginza"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Oh, Good Grief"
"Star Song"
"Treat Street"


Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits

"Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits"

****

The Vince Guaraldi Trio

No LP release

Fantasy FCD-9682-2

Released September 8, 1998


Vince Guaraldi died on February 6, 1976, having worked on 15 Peanuts television specials and the first feature film. Despite the popularity of all these shows, and the wealth of music contained therein, Guaraldi didn't release any records after 1969; fans had only three albums to play over and over and over again ... and some of the cuts (notably "Linus and Lucy") were repeated on more than one album.

Three decades after the release of his last Peanuts assemblage, Fantasy finally issued this fourth collection of Guaraldi's Peanuts music. The news is both wonderful and somewhat aggravating: wonderful, for the nine new cues; aggravating, because five other cues are repeats from both A Boy Named Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas. How many times must Fantasy make money off the same rendition of "Linus and Lucy"? (Don't bother answering that; the situation hasn't gotten any better with time!)

Even so, the new material is a joy, although some of these cuts are a bit "muddy," and they lack the polish and studio perfection of Fantasy's earlier releases; they have an unsweetened quality, and display the uneven volume, jump starts and slow fades that betray their probable origins from television audio tracks. The best ones are the title theme to A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and a frequently used cut dubbed "Surfin' Snoopy" -- a new title for a 1966 composition originally dubbed "Air Music" -- that will be recognized immediately. (Actually, it first pops up as the music behind Snoopy's bout of "extreme decorating" in A Charlie Brown Christmas, when he puts all the lights and stuff on his doghouse.) The "Heartburn Waltz" and "Charlie's Blues" (which is mis-titled; see below) also are sweet little numbers, as is this second interpretation of "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," which is gentler than the version heard on Oh, Good Grief!

You'd need a roadmap (or the liner notes) to track all the sidemen, although familiar faces Eddie Duran (guitar), Monty Budwig and Fred Marshall (both bass) and Jerry Granelli (drums) pop up. And while it's nice that Fantasy is so meticulous about listing all these musicians, I wish the same could be said of the song titles; the mistakes here will screw up archivists for years. The first track, although called "Joe Cool," has nothing at all to do with the bluesy vocal that we all know so well. "Track Meet" actually is a variation of "Christmas Is Coming," done with a heavy bossa-nova twist. The liner notes claim that Guaraldi wrote all the tracks, but he clearly can't take credit for "Camptown Races," although this arrangement certainly has Vince's signature Latin swing. As noted above, "Surfin' Snoopy" is an apparently new title for "Air Music," which although never released by that title on an earlier album, has been published in sheet music collections under its actual name. The worst gaffe, though, comes with a cute vocal number sung by the members of Glenn Mendelson's sixth-grade class; this cut is called "Oh, Good Grief" although it's actually set to the music of "Schroeder" ... and, of course, "Oh, Good Grief" is another (entirely different) piece of music.

Careful listeners will detect that track 9, called "Charlie's Blues," actually is the main theme to the Peanuts special Play It Again, Charlie Brown. That's correct, but there's more to it. We can blame Guaraldi himself for the confusion here. He apparently liked this particular theme a lot, and used it in several TV specials subsequent to its debut as the title theme to Play It Again. Perhaps realizing that the cue therefore needed a more generic name, Guaraldi re-titled it "Charlie Brown Blues." Right, "Charlie Brown Blues," not simply "Charlie's Blues." So the title used for this CD's track 9 should be "Charlie Brown Blues" -- or "Play It Again, Charlie Brown" -- but not "Charlie's Blues." Got all that? (Next time you watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, pay attention to the first bit of musical underscore; it's this CD's track 9.)

This album's version of "Charlie Brown Theme," "Linus and Lucy" and "Schroeder" were released previously on A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Both versions of "Christmas Time Is Here" were released previously on A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran, John Gray -- guitar
Tom Harrell, John Copolla, Frank Snow, Emanuel Klein -- trumpet
Chuck Bennett -- trombone
Seward McCain, Pat Firth, Monty Budwig, Fred Marshall -- bass
Glen Cronkite, Lee Charlton, John Pompeo, Jerry Granelli, Mike Clark, Colin Bailey -- drums
Bill Fitch -- congas
Benny Velarde -- timbales

In the interests of accuracy, the track listings here are in play order, rather than alphabetical order (and a shout-out to my 5CP colleague Scott, for the heavy lifting here):

1. "Joe Cool" [sic] -- Possibly a variation of "Charlie Brown Theme," but the interior fanfare is troublesome; it could be something else entirely
2. "Surfin' Snoopy" (aka "Air Music") -- heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas and Charlie Brown's All-Stars
3. "Heartburn Waltz" -- heard in Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown
4. "Track Meet" [sic] -- actually a nifty variation of "Christmas Is Coming," from A Charlie Brown Christmas
5. "Camptown Races" -- to my knowledge, never used in a Peanuts special
6. "Oh, Good Grief" [sic] -- actually a vocal set to the music of "Schroeder"; "Oh, Good Grief" is an entirely different melody
7. "Charlie Brown Theme" -- originally composed for the never-aired TV documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and also heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
8. "Schroeder" -- originally composed for the never-aired TV documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and also heard in It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown
9. "Charlie's Blues" [sic] -- actually "Play It Again, Charlie Brown" or "Charlie Brown's Blues," heard in several specials
10. "Great Pumpkin Waltz" -- heard in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
11. "Thanksgiving Theme" -- heard in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
12. "Linus and Lucy" -- heard in numerous specials
13. "Christmas Time Is Here" (vocal) -- heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas
14. "Christmas Time Is Here" (instrumental) -- heard in A Charlie Brown Christmas

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them, except for "Camptown Races" (despite the fact that the album liner notes appear to claim that Guaraldi wrote that popular Stephen Foster classic, as well!)


The Charlie Brown Suite

"The Charlie Brown Suite"

****

Vince Guaraldi and various guests

No LP release

Bluebird 82876-53900-2

Released August 19, 2003


Vince Guaraldi's son, Dave, worked for years to secure the necessary permissions to distribute some of his father's previously unreleased material, and this Bluebird album was the first such compilation.

In terms of production quality, fans must be a little tolerant; most of the cuts -- and most particularly the long title track -- were recorded live, on reel-to-reel tape (and not by professionals). It thus was necessary to "sweeten" these recordings in order to make them more presentable for the mainstream market, and the results should be acceptable to all but hard-core audiophiles. Besides, the joy lies in simply having this material after all these years, and I'll certainly trade a little studio perfectionism for just getting this album into my library.

The centerpiece selection, long spoken of in reverential tones by fans who only knew of it but never had heard it, is the fully orchestrated Charlie Brown Suite, recorded live on May 18, 1969 -- not 1968, as the liner notes incorrectly state -- during a benefit performance with Amici Della Musica (Richard Williams, conductor) at Mr. D's, a theater/restaurant in San Francisco's North Beach region. This awesome piece of music clocks in at roughly 40 minutes and skillfully weaves half a dozen songs into an integrated whole: "Linus and Lucy," "The Great Pumpkin Waltz" (incorrectly called "Happiness Is" on the CD's liner notes), "Peppermint Patty," "Oh, Good Grief" (incorrectly called "Charlie Brown Theme" on the CD's liner notes), "Rain, Rain, Go Away" and "Red Baron."

The album opens with a sizzling, previously unreleased version of "Linus and Lucy," with Guaraldi accompanied by what sounds like a full big band (no personnel noted). That's followed by the album's one case of poor judgment: a repeat version of "Oh Good Grief" (incorrectly called "The Charlie Brown Theme"), which is exactly the same as the version on the Warners album Oh, Good Grief! (My good buddy Michael Graves insists that this version, as recorded by Ken Hopkins, is superior to its earlier appearance on Oh, Good Grief! ... but that's a subtle distinction most fans probably won't notice or care about.) Again, sadly, the personnel are not listed (very likely because the information is lost).

As for The Charlie Brown Suite...

A flute and chimes prologue introduces the first movement; the string section takes the lead, flows smoothly into a brief quote from a children's school yard jump-rope song -- "A Tisket, a Tasket" -- and then cues Guaraldi's driving left hand, as he kicks off "Linus and Lucy." The song's first improv bridge is handled by violins that just as quickly yield focus back to the combo. Guaraldi takes the second improv lead himself, shadowed by soft strings.

The second movement begins with wistful strings that yield to the reed section, taking the lead melody from "Great Pumpkin Waltz." Guaraldi's trio then comps behind this primary theme, the pianist noodling the sort of melodic snatches that he delivered so famously during his jazz mass, in what became known as the "Holy Communion Blues." More than most Guaraldi compositions, the "Great Pumpkin Waltz" seems a natural for this enlarged orchestral treatment.

In contrast, the ensemble's plucked strings provide a somewhat awkward prologue to the third movement, which only catches fire when Guaraldi's combo launches into what is revealed to be "Peppermint Patty." Orchestras rarely do justice to fast-paced songs intended to swing, and -- as one of Guaraldi's fastest and most vibrant little tunes -- "Peppermint Patty" is somewhat ill-served by its treatment here. To give credit where due, however, Williams builds the movement to a rousing climax, with Guaraldi madly improvising in the foreground, while Bob Belanski maintains a sparkling beat. Peter Marshall concludes the movement with a single low note on his bass.

Movement Four slows things down again, with a flute introduction that resolves into another playground chant before morphing further into "Oh, Good Grief," which Guaraldi introduces with a quiet, single-note melody line. The combo jumps in and helps shape what turns into a neo-samba arrangement ... or as close to one as an orchestra can get, at least. Once again, Guaraldi's improvisational keyboard flourishes add an effervescent touch.

The mood turns even more poignant as Guaraldi opens the fifth movement with the solo piano prologue to "Rain, Rain Go Away"; the combo and orchestra enter simultaneously, the blend once again bringing fresh vitality to another of Guaraldi's best ballads. The strings and reeds take over at the bridge, with Guaraldi comping gently in the background as the tune draws to a quiet close.

Bowed strings cue the up-tempo vamp that kicks off the sixth movement's "Red Baron" ... which sounds decidedly listless at roughly half its usual tempo. Once again, the attempt to get swing from the orchestra falls flat; Marshall and Belanski sound like they're whipping the horses and trying to drag everybody else along at a faster clip. The situation improves once Guaraldi's piano dominates the mid-section improv; as also is the case elsewhere in this massive piece, the orchestra works best when it shadows him, rather than trying to take the primary foreground melody.

The sixth movement's final violin flourish segues to a reprise of the first movement's introductory flute theme, and we're once again in the school yard, watching several imaginary children jump rope. Guaraldi kicks in with his left hand vamp from "Linus and Lucy," slowing the tempo with each refrain -- and never adding the beloved right-hand melody -- until the entire orchestra fades to its quiet conclusion.

The CD concludes with a live (probably nightclub) version of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," with Guaraldi accompanied by Eddie Duran (guitar), Fred Marshall (bass) and John Waller (drums). This cut is a minor disappointment; it's a somewhat sloppy reading of Guaraldi's signature hit, further betrayed by the less-than-ideal conditions under which it was recorded.

The liner notes include a nice introduction by Dave Guaraldi, and a lengthy article by Lee Mendelson. The mis-identified cuts notwithstanding, it's a nice package, and I hope it proves successful enough for Dave Guaraldi and Bluebird, that more will follow.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Fred Marshall, Peter Marshall -- bass
John Waller, Bob Belanski -- drums

Track listing:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"The Charlie Brown Suite"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Oh, Good Grief"

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them


Oaxaca

"Oaxaca"

****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

D&D VG1125

Released October 19, 2004


Now teamed with restoration master Michael Graves, Dave Guaraldi has commissioned the second new CD of his father's previously unreleased material, this compilation released on the revived D&D label (previously used for the San Francisco Boys Chorus LP).

The restoration quality is superior to the Bluebird album, although fans still must forgive some tape hiss. All indications are that Vince had somebody drag along a quarter-inch reel-to-reel behemoth when some of these tracks originally were recorded; microphones were set up, and then the musicians simply played. You'll therefore note some audio impurities, mostly background tape hiss ... but it's minimal, and certainly not intrusive.

The nine tracks spring from a variety of sources: some performed live at In Your Ear, a jazz club based in Palo Alto, California; one performed at The Matrix, a San Francisco-based jazz haven; and several professional recorded in a studio.

Guaraldi and crew -- Vince Denham, saxophone and flute; Mike Clark, drums; and Koji Kataoka, bass -- get off to a rousing start with "Charlie Brown Blues," actually a wonderfully long arrangement of the title theme to the TV special Play It Again, Charlie Brown. Peanuts fans also will enjoy hearing the title track from You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown. Both are a lot of fun. (As explained above, in the write-up for Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits, "Charlie Brown Blues" is another, later title Guaraldi gave to "Play It Again, Charlie Brown.")

The album takes its title from "Oaxaca" (pronouned WaHAWKa), a catchy little tune full of sparkle and sass, which sounds like it could have been a Peanuts theme, although it never was used as such (as is the case with "Nobody Else," on the Eclectic album).

You'll also hear Guaraldi's covers of The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," Paul Williams' "We've Only Just Begun," two Beatles hits -- "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "Something" -- and Michel Legrand's "Watch What Happens." The latter cut, alas, is incomplete; the beginning is missing, and the song therefore fades into life somewhere in the middle. But it's such a lovely track that all concerned deemed it essential to include.

The liner notes are, once again, by Site Master Derrick Bang.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3, clavinet
Vince Denham -- sax
Koji Kataoka -- bass
Mike Clark -- drums

Track listing:
"Charlie Brown Blues" (aka "Play It Again, Charlie Brown")
"Oaxaca" [two takes]
"Something"
"Watch What Happens"
"We've Only Just Begun"
"You Can't Always Get What You Want"
"You Never Give Me Your Money"
"You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Charlie Brown Blues" (aka "Charlie's Blues," see also Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits)
"Oaxaca"
"You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown"


North Beach

"North Beach"

****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

D&D VG4465

Released January 19, 2006


Once again working with tapes restored by Michael Graves, Dave Guaraldi self-produced a third new CD of his father's previously unreleased material, this compilation also on the revived D&D label.

The liner notes do not give a clue as to where these tracks were performed -- in a studio, or live -- although the implication is that they spring from club dates in San Francisco's jazz-hued North Beach region. Indeed, the liner notes will one day make this disc a jazz historian's nightmare, because while several sidemen are credited -- Seward McCain and Peter Marshall (bass), Al Coster and Jerry Granelli (drums), and Vince's longtime buddy Eddie Duran (guitar) -- there's no indication of who played on which track.

The tracks themselves are an interesting mix. Several will sound quite familiar, as they've appeared on earlier Guaraldi albums: "Lucifer's Lady," "It Was a Very Good Year" and "Masked Marvel," in particular. Although these are different versions from those on albums Guaraldi fans already possess, the distinctions are so slight that casual fans may not be able to distinguish them. This disc's version of "Masked Marvel" actually is the same take as that used on Alma-Ville; the only difference is that the track here is mixed louder and doesn't fade out quite as quickly.

The variations are more pronounced on the two versions of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," which open and close this album, and the Peanuts stalwart "Linus and Lucy." These three tracks are quite different from versions we've heard before, and the concluding take on "Cast Your Fate" is particularly noteworthy: an entirely new direction for Vince's signature theme, apparently recorded shortly before he died, and a clear indication that he still was experimenting with the song that put him on the jazz map.

Musically, the three biggest treats are covers of Elton John's "Your Song" and Joe Cowan's "Cabaret" -- the latter a particularly lively rendition of that classic show tune -- and an extended version of "Autumn Leaves" that will fool you into thinking that it's some other song entirely ... until, six minutes into this awesome performance, Vince and the band finally find their way back to the familiar melody line.

In many ways, this CD feels like The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi: an odd mix of this and that, albeit overall a more enjoyable collection. But without any context in Dave Guaraldi's sparse liner notes, it's impossible to catalog any of this music in terms of its place in Vince's career.

Be advised: These versions of "Cabaret," "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and "Linus and Lucy" are the same live performances that turn up a few albums ahead, on Live on the Air.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano, harpsichord
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Seward McCain, Peter Marshall -- bass
Al Coster, Jerry Granelli -- drums

Track Listing:
"Autumn Leaves"
"Cabaret"
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind" [two versions]
"It Was a Very Good Year"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Lucifer's Lady"
"The Masked Marvel"
"Your Song"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Lucifer's Lady"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Masked Marvel"


Lost Cues 1

"The Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials"

****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

D&D VG1118

Released January 1, 2007


After recording studio master tapes were discovered for seven of the later Peanuts TV specials scored by Guaraldi, his son Dave cherry-picked many of the better individual songs and cues for this album. They come from four shows: A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown; You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown; and You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. The restoration work once again is superb, thanks to the efforts of Michael Graves and his Atlanta, Georgia-based Osiris Studio. Even so, the listening experience is slightly uneven; the original recording sessions go back to the late 1960s and early '70s, obviously with different technicians and production elements. As a result, the background hiss and occasional fuzz is noticeably different from one track to the next ... but probably not enough to be distracting to any but the most demanding listeners.

The album's prizes include a short but exceptionally lively rendition of "Peppermint Patty"; an up-tempo variation on the title theme for There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown; and the nearly seven-minute "Pitkin County Blues." The latter is a sassy number highlighted by Tom Harrell's deliciously wicked trumpet (a bit of unexpected instrumentation for a Guaraldi combo), along with the usual solid support from Seward McCain (bass) and Glenn Cronkite (drums).

It's also nice to hear Guaraldi's own handling of "The Incumbent Waltz" (a great title for an equally droll little tune, quite appropriately used in You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown). George Winston fans will recognize the melody, since the New Age pianist frequently has performed it during his live concerts ... and keeps promising to include it in his upcoming second album of Guaraldi compositions.

The album tracks alternate between Guaraldi's traditional piano stylings and the electronic keyboards he favored toward the end of his career; he's equally deft and inventive on both. But because the tracks are in no particular order, one can't get a sense of how his switch from acoustic to electronic instrumentation progressed, which is a shame ... but I suppose a dedicated listener could re-sequence the CD.

The album includes two versions of "Joe Cool": a wonderfully lengthy instrumental, and a shorter vocal. (Guaraldi was quite skilled at varying the mix on his more popular compositions; remember, he scored 15 of these animated TV specials, and felt compelled to include -- for example -- a version of "Linus and Lucy" in just about all of them. Every version was significantly different, whether in arrangement, instrumentation or both. The same is true of "Joe Cool" and "Little Birdie," both of which popped up frequently in the later TV specials.) Flutist Pat O'Hara contributes a clever counter-melody in this instrumental version of "Joe Cool," and I defy the listener not to keep time with a snapping finger or tapping toe. Guaraldi's vocal version of the same song is just a hair slower than usual, the lyrics and arrangement ideally suited to his gravelly voice. It's hard not to picture Snoopy strutting down the school hallway. (Accuracy compels me to point out, however, that this vocal version of "Joe Cool" is a variant from the recording session for There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown ... not from It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown, as the liner notes claim.)

Some of the other tracks -- notably "Centercourt," "Motocross" and "African Sleigh Ride" -- were designed to be background instrumentals that filled the space behind bits of silent comedy or even conversations between characters. As a result, they can sound repetitive when removed from their visual action. "Motocross," in particular, lingers about two minutes too long.

Perhaps to suggest a sense of the authentic recording-studio experience, Dave Guaraldi chose to leave lead-in business on many of the tracks ... say, a quick noodling warm-up by one of the musicians, or the recording engineer's "Cue 13," followed by Guaraldi's countdown: "One-two-three-two-two-three!" Such stuff might be considered cute the first time one plays the CD, but it quickly grows tiresome and merely detracts from the joys of the music itself.

On the other hand, I'm pleased to see that Dave took my complaint regarding the previous album, North Beach, to heart: This one carefully identifies which musician plays which instrument on every track. It's nice to know who to acknowledge for each solo.

(On the third hand, I'm not sure whether to trust this information, based on the trouble Dave had with the liner notes for the next album in this series. For openers, the dates of the various recording sessions are ... unlikely. See the next review for all the gory details.)

Those who religiously purchase all Guaraldi albums may wonder why, despite the wealth of material from which to choose, Dave resurrected "Thanksgiving Theme," also found on Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits. The reason is excellent: This is an entirely different version of the track, heard at the conclusion of that television special, and featuring a trumpet solo not present in the Holiday Hits version. And we all love alternate takes, right?

On the fourth hand, Dave deserves full credit for correctly identifying the title theme from Play It Again, Charlie Brown, as opposed to using its later alternate title of "Charlie Brown Blues."

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- keyboards
Tom Harrell -- trumpet
Chuck Bennett -- trombone
Pat O'Hara -- flute
Seward McCain -- bass
Mike Clark, Glenn Cronkite, Mark Rosengarden -- drums

Track listing: "African Sleigh Ride"
"Centercourt"
"Incumbent Waltz"
"Joe Cool" (vocal and instrumental)
"Little Birdie"
"Motocross"
"Peppermint Patty"
"Pitkin County Blues"
"Play It Again, Charlie Brown" (aka "Charlie Brown Blues")
"Thanksgiving Theme"
"There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown"

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them


Lost Cues 2

"The Lost Cues from the Charlie Brown Television Specials, Volume 2"

****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

D&D VG1119

Released February 6, 2008


Dave Guaraldi once again draws from the best as-yet unheard tracks from the work his father did on Peanuts TV specials toward the end of his career, this time cherry-picking material from It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown; Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown; It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown; A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving; and You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown. The collection is a mix of Vince's signature compositions -- yet again different versions of "Linus and Lucy," "Joe Cool" and "Little Birdie" -- and previously uncollected underscore cues. In most cases, Guaraldi plays an electronic keyboard, and it's truly amazing how much swing he can get from an instrument that can sound sterile in lesser hands.

The meticulous restoration work again comes courtesy of Michael Graves and Osiris Studio. The overall listening experience is reasonably balanced, although one track -- "Is It James or Charlie," from A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving -- sounds as though it originally had been recorded in a closet ... beneath about a mile of ocean water. (This isn't the fault of the restoration process; sadly, this entire recording session simply wasn't preserved very well.) Otherwise, the varying studio conditions are leveled surprisingly well, as noted in my comments for Volume 1 in this series.

The album kicks off with a lively toe-tapper: a grooving instrumental composition that accompanies Marcie and Peppermint Patty's antics while trying to color eggs in It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, and quite appropriately called "Kitchen Music." (I know, I know ... you won't even find that title on the liner notes. I'll discuss this little problem at greater length below.) It's followed by "Snoopy and Woodstock," a droll instrumental buddy theme for the world-famous beagle and his best birdie friend. Drummer Glenn Cronkite establishes a sassy beat, and Guaraldi and bassist Seward McCain really go to town.

Some of the album's slower tracks demonstrate Guaraldi's ability to evoke gentler moods and the sort of melancholia that one would associate with Charlie Brown. Both "There's Been a Change" and "Never Again" tug at the heart and recall the sadder moments involving Chuck's repeated disappointments during Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown.

This album's version of "Linus and Lucy" is brief, but it's adorable, with some gentle bell sounds added to punctuate the familiar tune. The instrumental version of "Joe Cool" mixes things up a bit with a mouth harp and some piano noodlings; Guaraldi also whistles the melody line, and does so quite well. Finally, the instrumental version of "Little Birdie" also seems to whistle the melody line, although in this case it's Guaraldi's electronic keyboard.

As was the case with the first collection in this series, some of the cues don't stand that well on their own, as they were intended to be used as underscore to on-screen antics. "Charlie Brown's Wake-Up" is perhaps the worst offender here; it's almost random keyboard work and never really goes anywhere.

On the other hand, both "Cops and Robbers" and "Sally's Blues" are a lot of fun. The former starts off sounding like a re-working of "Linus and Lucy" but then develops its own identity as a fast-paced toe-tapper. "Sally's Blues" is really sassy: the sort of dirty blues that makes you close your eyes and smile with appreciation.

The album concludes with a variant version of "Nobody Else," probably recorded during the sessions that resulted in the earlier album, The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi. The instrumentation is the same, but the reading is "pure": The intrusive string section, added after the fact for the album release, is absent (and thank God for that!). I've always felt this cut belonged in the Peanuts musical canon; this particular version merely reinforces that opinion. That is, however, only my opinion; there's no indication it ever was intended as a Peanuts cue, and therefore its inclusion here -- on an album supposedly devoted to Peanuts TV show themes -- is a bit suspect.

Alas, as with the previous collection, Dave Guaraldi once again includes lead-in business on many of the tracks: comments from the recording engineer and Vince's own countdowns. As I said before, this stuff is unnecessary and subtracts from the listening experience.

But that isn't this album's biggest sin.

Aside from the well-recognized signature themes, most listeners won't have any reference point to the titles of most tracks, and therefore won't be aware of the many mistakes made with respect to the labeling of this album's tracking sequence. But even a casual fan will recognize that "Little Birdie" actually is the seventh track, rather than the eighth. Indeed, the tracking order printed on the back of the jewel case, and inside the liner notes booklet, bears scant resemblance to reality. In a word, it's a mess: Cues are out of order, titled incorrectly or absent altogether. Many running times are works of fiction.

And while each track does come from the animated TV special assigned to it, the recording session dates are suspect. You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown aired in 1972, so clearly the music for that show wasn't recorded in 1974. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving aired in 1973, so its music obviously wasn't recorded in 1974. It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown aired in February 1974, so obviously its music wasn't recorded in July of that same year. Finally, Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown aired in 1975 ... so it's highly unlikely (although possible, I'll admit) that its music was recorded in 1973.

I can't help being worried that such sloppiness extends to the track-by-track listings of personnel; if so, that's be a real crisis.

Despite what the CD claims, therefore, please note that what follows here is the true tracking order, with correct titles and running times:

1) "Kitchen Music" (not "Woodstock's Dream"), 1:43
2) "Snoopy and Woodstock," 2:11
3) "Never Again," 1:34
4) "Heartburn Waltz," 2:00
5) "Charlie Brown's Wake-Up," 1:30
6) "There's Been a Change," 1:34
7) "Little Birdie," 1:56
8) "Cops and Robbers," 1:43
9) "Sally's Blues," 1:41
10) "It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown," 2:05
11) "Is It James or Charlie," 2:22
12) "Oh, Good Grief" (from You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown), 1:06
13) "Linus and Lucy," 1:20
14) "Joe Cool," 3:01
15) "Nobody Else," 4:35

The cue "Bus Me" (listed as track 3) isn't to be found anywhere. And track 12 is "Oh, Good Grief," as indicated above, although the liner notes don't mention it at all.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- keyboards
Seward McCain, Peter Marshall -- bass
Glenn Cronkite, Mike Clark, Al Coster -- drums

Track listing:
See above

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them


Live on the Air

"Live on the Air"

****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

D&D VG1120

Recorded February 6, 1974; released November 14, 2008


This superb set of music was recorded live February 6, 1974, at the Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. The first nine songs, all running at a generous length that allows plenty of space for improv, appear to have been made with radio play in mind; those songs run just shy of an hour, and then an engineer can be heard as he says, "Vince ... we're off the air." The remaining three songs can be regarded as "bonus material"; Guaraldi noodles his way into them, and in one case abruptly halts, obviously dissatisfied with how he began, and starts anew. (More on this later.) The mastering overall is excellent; the recording quality is crisp, and the listening experience is -- for the most part -- a total joy.

The "polished" hour-long set is a great find for Guaraldi fans. Dr. Funk alternates between piano and fender rhodes, and he's supported by Seward McCain (bass) and Eliot Zigmund (drums). The set list includes several songs for which Guaraldi was well known -- "On Green Dolphin Street," "Eleanor Rigby" and the signature hits "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and "Linus and Lucy" -- along with a few he recorded less frequently, if at all.

Guaraldi opens the set on piano, with a swingin' cover of "Cabaret": a straight-ahead bopper in traditional trio style, with some energetic solos. His other tracks on piano include the Bread ballad "If," in a very nice arrangement with a mid-song tempo shift that kicks things into gear; a rockin' cover of the Charlie Parker tune "Billie's Bounce" -- I know this title isn't listed on the CD; bear with me (and see below) -- which boasts a great keyboard solo by Vince (and a tiresome drum solo from Zigmund ... whose contributions on the entire CD, it should be mentioned, aren't up to the quality of his far more talented companions); "Eleanor Rigby," "Linus and Lucy" and "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." The latter two, although present on many other CDs at this point, are nonetheless different and quite energetic arrangements; Guaraldi is a master at squeezing fresh juice from his iconic works.

He switches to fender rhodes for an up-tempo arrangement of the title theme to the Peanuts animated TV special There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown and a slow and sweet cover of Miles Davis' "Old Folks." (I know, I know; that isn't even included on the track list. More on this later, as well.)

The "bonus tracks" are "Cops and Robbers," a great expansion of an underscore track from the Peanuts TV special It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown, played on piano and highlighted by a really peppy keyboard interlude; a cover of the pop song "One, Two, Three," popularized back in the 1960s by Len Barry and rendered here as an up-tempo ballad on fender rhodes; and the aforementioned "On Green Dolphin Street," also on fender rhodes, and boasting nice solos from both Guaraldi and McCain.

The music, the bits of fourth-quarter random jamming aside, is the good news. Its presentation is ... somewhat lacking.

The album was mastered in August 2009 at Sierra Digital, in Menlo Park; Vince's son Dave is credited as producer. It's therefore difficult to know who to blame for the package's, ah, eccentricities. For openers, there's no reason two discs were needed; had the extraneous noodlings been eliminated, along with Guaraldi's false start on "Cops and Robbers," all the music could have been placed on a single CD. Listening to musicians banter might be fun in a live concert context, but the talking here can't qualify as banter; it's just between-cues instructions that never should have been recorded for posterity. And why are "Eleanor Rigby" and "Linus and Lucy" laid down as a single track? It's not a medley; "Eleanor Rigby" ends to applause and a brief pause, before "Linus and Lucy" begins. Obviously these should be two different tracks!

And speaking of that applause, there's the entire issue of the circumstances under which this material was recorded. "On the air" for which station, precisely? Broadcast when, if at all? The CD's scarce liner notes give no clue; while Jesse Hayes writes a nice essay about Guaraldi and his music in general, there's no information about this specific session. And who, I wonder, was in the "audience" applauding? That's a bit unusual for what sounds like a studio recording session.

On a slightly more modest level, the drummer's name is Eliot Zigmund, not Elliot Zigman.

Perhaps most egregious, though, is the matter of the careless track listings, a problem that also plagued the previous D&D Guaraldi release. Four titles are just plain wrong. The third track on disc one, while claiming to be a Charlie Parker tune called "Now's the Time," actually is a different Charlie Parker tune called "Billie's Bounce." The fifth track on disc one, while claiming to be "I Could Write a Book," actually is the aforementioned "Old Folks." The fifth track on disc two is "Cops and Robbers," not "Little Birdie." (It appears that whoever made this gaffe merely copied the incorrect information from Lost Cues 2, because that CD also confuses "Little Birdie" with "Cops and Robbers.) Finally, there's the matter of the second track on disc two, which is titled "Then Came You." Well, it certainly is not the Dionne Warwick/Spinners classic. In point of fact, this is a lengthy interpretation of "Woodstock's Pad," one of the underscore themes from the Peanuts animated TV special, It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. It's a gorgeous reading and expansion of a bit of music that didn't even last a minute on the TV special, proving once again that Guaraldi was a genius when it came to developing hook-laden compositions from even the most modest sources.

Be advised: These versions of "Cabaret," "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" and "Linus and Lucy" are the same performances that turned up a few albums earlier, on North Beach.

In the interest of accuracy, then, here's the actual tracking order, with running times and correct titles:

Disk one

1) "Cabaret," 7:39
2) "If," 8:14
3) "Billie's Bounce," 5:50
4) "There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown," 7:02
5) "Old Folks," 8:21

Disk two

1) "Eleanor Rigby," 5:14/"Linus and Lucy," 4:12; 9:34 total
2) "Woodstock's Pad," 6:02
3) "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," 3:46
4) Chat from the control booth; random remarks from the musicians, 1:00
5) "Cops and Robbers," 7:18 (including the false start)
6) "One, Two, Three," 7:24
7) "On Green Dolphin Street," 8:05

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano, Fender Rhodes
Seward McCain -- electric bass
Eliot Zigmund -- drums

Track listing:
See above

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Cops and Robbers"
"Linus and Lucy"
"There's No Time for Love, Charlie Brown"
"Woodstock's Pad"



Essential Standards

"Essential Standards"

*****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

Concord OJC 31426 02

Released June 30, 2009


This second compilation album is both an ideal companion to Vince Guaraldi's Greatest Hits and a better overview -- than that first anthology -- of his Fantasy Records years. There's very little overlap; this and Greatest Hits have only two tracks in common, "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" -- certainly necessary in a Guaraldi collection with the word "essential" in its title -- and his cover of the Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer standard, "The Days of Wine and Roses."

The remaining tracks draw from eight different albums, and (thankfully!) include four tracks from his first two albums with Eddie Duran (guitar) and Dean Reilly (bass): "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," "Willow Weep for Me," "Autumn Leaves" and "Fascinating Rhythm." Two tracks -- "The Girl from Ipanema" and the aforementioned "Days of Wine and Roses" -- draw from Guaraldi's years with Bola Sete, and the rest are well chosen from other albums.

Peanuts tracks are conspicuously absent. On the one hand, this makes sense; Guaraldi's Peanuts music is heavily recorded elsewhere. On the other hand, I'd argue that "Linus and Lucy" definitely has become an "essential standard," and "Christmas Time Is Here" isn't far behind. Only one track draws from Guaraldi's Charlie Brown side, though, and it's not really "Peanuts music": Vince's cover of "Greensleeves," from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Although these dozen tracks do represent an excellent overview of Guaraldi's career, they're not arranged in chronological order, so it's impossible to get a sense of how his musical "sound" evolved. I'm also surprised that, with the exception of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," all these tracks are covers of songs by other composers; Guaraldi's composing talents are largely overlooked. (But, then, it's probably fair to say that most of Guaraldi's other original compositions haven't yet become "standards.")

All that said, if you want to make a convert of a friend not yet exposed to Vince, this is a great first album to play.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
[See original recordings for sidemen]

Track listing:
"Autumn Leaves"
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Corcovado"
"The Days of Wine and Roses"
"Fascinating Rhythm"
"The Girl from Ipanema"
"Greensleeves"
"Moon River"
"On Green Dolphin Street"
"Since I Fell for You"
"Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise"
"Willow Weep for Me"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"


The Definitive Vince Guaraldi

"The Definitive Vince Guaraldi"

*****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

Fantasy FAN-31462

Released October 6, 2009


Once again, although this two-CD set is the best Guaraldi retrospective produced thus far, it more properly should be titled The Definitive Fantasy Years. Because this Concord/Fantasy release is label-specific, it doesn't include any tracks from Vince's three Warner Bros. albums or his self-produced collaboration with the San Francisco Boys Chorus. Given how much Guaraldi's style changed during this later period, a truly "definitive" collection obviously should include some examples.

That said, this set superbly covers Guaraldi's recording career -- as a leader of his own combo -- from 1955 through 1965. (All these tracks derive from Guaraldi's own albums, as opposed to the considerable recordings on which he can be found as a member of somebody else's band.) We get a nice sense of his early songwriting skills, starting with "Calling Dr. Funk" -- the first track on the first disc, and the earliest recording here -- and "Fenwyck's Farfel." And, of course, there's plenty of material from the career-changing Black Orpheus album, which introduced "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." The Peanuts years also are well represented, with eight tracks that include the lesser-known "Oh, Good Grief" and "The Great Pumpkin Waltz," along with the ubiquitous hits: "Linus and Lucy," "Christmas Time Is Here" and "Skating."

It's fun to trace the evolution of Guaraldi's sound, from the unusual configuration of his original trio -- with Eddie Duran and Dean Reilly on guitar and bass, respectively -- to the "classic" Black Orpheus and early Peanuts trio (Monty Budwig and Colin Bailey, on bass and drums, respectively) and the introduction of the bossa-nova influence that turned the band into a quartet, with Bola Sete (guitar), Budwig (bass) and Nick Martinez (drums). As opposed to the recently released Essential Standards compilation, the tracks here are in chronological order, so the listener gets a strong sense of how Guaraldi moved from one style to the next.

It is curious, however, that this two-CD set has been released less than four months after Concord's aforementioned Essential Standards ... and somewhat irritating that they overlap so much.

Finally, this set is sweetened by the presence of two previously unreleased tracks, starting with a wonderfully long (more than 10 minutes!) version of "Autumn Leaves." This standard originally was recorded on Guaraldi's A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing album, with Duran and Reilly; this much longer version is with Budwig and Bailey. And Guaraldi's Peanuts fans will pounce on the second new track, "Blues for Peanuts," which is -- yes, it truly is! -- a never-before-released theme. It apparently was left behind during the recording session that produced the original A Boy Named Charlie Brown album, containing Guaraldi's music from the never-televised 30-minute documentary that Lee Mendelson made in 1963. Snatches of this track can be heard during that documentary, shortly after the three-minute mark, as the character of Schroeder is introduced. (The documentary is available for purchase exclusively from the Charles M. Schulz Museum's Web site.) As far as Guaraldi's Peanuts fans are concerned, the presence of this cue alone will justify the purchase of this set.

The only remaining mystery is which descriptive word Concord/Fantasy will employ if the label releases another collection. 2009 alone saw the terms "essential" and "definitive" used. What's left?

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
[See original recordings for sidemen]

Track listing:
"Autumn Leaves"
"Blues for Peanuts"
"Calling Dr. Funk"
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Charlie Brown Theme"
"Christmas Is Coming"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"Corcovado"
"The Days of Wine and Roses"
"El Matador"
"Fascinating Rhythm"
"Fenwyck's Farfel"
"A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing"
"Ginza Samba"
"The Girl from Ipanema"
"Great Pumpkin Waltz"
"Jitterbug Waltz"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Manha de Carnaval"
"Moon River"
"Mr. Lucky"
"Never Never Land"
"Oh, Good Grief"
"On Green Dolphin Street"
"Samba de Orfeu"
"Skating"
"Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise"
"Star Song"
"Thanksgiving Theme"
"Theme to Grace"
"The Work Song"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Blues for Peanuts"
"Calling Dr. Funk"
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Charlie Brown Theme"
"Christmas Is Coming"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"El Matador"
"Fenwyck's Farfel"
"Ginza Samba"
"Great Pumpkin Waltz"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Oh, Good Grief"
"Skating"
"Star Song"
"Thanksgiving Theme"
"Theme to Grace"


Peanuts Portraits

"Peanuts Portraits"

****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

Fantasy FAN-32033

Released April 20, 2010


Fantasy's fourth collection of Guaraldi's Peanuts music is a blend of the old and the new, although at first blush these 11 tracks will seem quite familiar. After all, the album opens with the same classic rendition of "Linus and Lucy" that has appeared on so many other Fantasy albums, going all the way back to 1964's A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

Ah, but appearances can be deceiving. This album's two prizes are alternate versions of "Frieda (With the Naturally Curly Hair)" and "Schroeder," both of which run quite a bit longer than the versions also appearing on A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Indeed, this take of "Frieda" is magnificent: two full minutes longer than what we've heard before, which gives Guaraldi and his trio much more room to stretch. Sharp-eared listeners will recognize that the original LP's version of "Schroeder" was trimmed from this CD's longer arrangement; roughly one minute (a second run of the primary verse) was cut from this recording, when used on the LP. In a way, it's like we only had access to a shorter 45 single version of "Schroeder" until this moment, and now we can enjoy the entire track the way Guaraldi intended it.

This album's engaging "gimmick" is that each track relates to a specific Peanuts character (hence the title, Peanuts Portraits). Charlie Brown is represented by two variations on the blues laments that Guaraldi noodled with during his all-too-brief career as the Peanuts gang's composer of choice, never playing them quite the same way twice, while Peppermint Patty has a quieter version of her own theme (much gentler than the rousing anthem heard on the Warners album Oh, Good Grief!), and so forth.

Unfortunately, that same concept limited what could be placed on such an album. (Characters such as Marcie and Franklin never received their own Guaraldi themes, for example.) That contributes to this collection's sole note of disappointment: It's rather short, at just a few minutes more than half an hour.

This album's versions of "Joe Cool" and "Little Birdie" previously appeared on Dave Guaraldi's Lost Cues compilations, and the final two tracks are solo piano covers by George Winston of "The Masked Marvel" and "Linus and Lucy," taken from his 1996 album of Guaraldi music, Linus and Lucy.

Alas, the album also gets a few cue titles wrong. Track 2, although identified as "Sally's Blues," is something entirely different ... and it's not even Vince. This bouncy little saxophone tune is used several times, in different episodes of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, and is associated with Marcie. The series aired from 1983 through 1986 ... which means that Guaraldi, dead many years by then, clearly didn't do the music. Track 2 on Peanuts Portraits actually should be credited to Ed Bogas and Desiree Goyette. (The actual "Sally's Blues" appears on Volume 2 of the Lost Cues album, and a quick comparison proves that they're not the same.) Track 3, although identified as "Blue Charlie Brown," actually is "Is It James or Charlie," also on Volume 2 of Lost Cues. Finally, track 5, incorrectly dubbed "Charlie's Blues," actually is the title theme from the TV special Play It Again, Charlie Brown, also known as "Charlie Brown Blues" (see above); this version can be recognized as an alternate take of the song given different "blues" titles on both Charlie Brown's Holiday Hits and Oaxaca.

This CD's extensive liner notes are once again by Site Master Derrick Bang, who was quite surprised when his lengthy character studies of Charlie Brown and his friends were used intact. (He had no control over the incorrect track listings this time, so please don't blame him!) With the added appeal of Charles Schulz's classic character art and Andrew Pham's really nice layout and package design, the resulting 16-page booklet is a lot of fun.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- piano
Tom Harrell -- trumpet
Chuck Bennett -- trombone
Monty Budwig, Seward McCain -- bass
Colin Bailey, Mike Clark -- drums

Track listing:
"Charlie Brown Blues" [identified as "Charlie's Blues"]
"Frieda (With the Naturally Curly Hair)"
"Is It James or Charlie" [identified as "Blue Charlie Brown"]
"Joe Cool"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Little Birdie"
"The Masked Marvel"
"Peppermint Patty"
"Schroeder"
Unknown track [incorrectly listed as "Sally's Blues"]

Guaraldi compositions:
All of them


An Afternoon with the Vince Guaraldi Quartet

"An Afternoon with the Vince Guaraldi Quartet"

*****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

VAG Publishing VAG1121

Released November 24, 2011


As the summer of 1967 concluded, Guaraldi accepted a two-week engagement at the Old Town Theatre in Los Gatos. His band for this gig featured Eddie Duran on guitar, Andy Acosta on bass, and Al Coster on drums. The sessions on this CD were recorded live during several of those performances, which took place October 17-29.

The set list reflects what had become a transitional period in Guaraldi's career. Although still willing to perform selections from the Great American Songbook, he was equally aware of the rising influence of pop and rock. Thus, he delivers a sassy, up-tempo cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe," which had become a No. 1 hit only a few months earlier. Listen for the smooth guitar licks that introduce this arrangement; at this point, a decade after being part of the original Vince Guaraldi Trio, Duran had gotten even more adept at his instrument.

Another track -- a luxuriously languid cover of the Antonio Carlos Jobim/Ray Gilbert/Vinicius DeMoraes ballad, "Once I Loved" -- evokes the American craze for bossa nova that Guaraldi helped ignite with his 1962 album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus.

You'll also hear a whimsical arrangement of "Going Out of My Head," along with the title theme from the 1960 film Exodus; check out Duran's smoking guitar introduction to the latter.

And, of course, no Guaraldi performance would be complete without his personal standards. Never content to play even his own hits the same way twice, Guaraldi positively roars through a vibrant arrangement of "Linus and Lucy," which kicks into a surprise harmonic coda just as listeners would have expected the song to conclude. Prior to that point, Acosta and Coster lay down some tasty rhythmic support during the bluesy bridges.

"Cast Your Fate to the Wind" earns the showcase spot as the concert closer, drawing applause the moment Guaraldi begins the familiar left-hand vamp. Coster and Acosta truly rip into this arrangement, laying down an almost dirty, swinging beat that Guaraldi exploits to terrific advantage with some extemporaneous keyboard noodling. Duran takes an equally inventive solo, then the tempo increases slightly as all four musicians build to a vibrant, crowd-pleasing conclusion. Listen closely, at this point, and you'll hear Guaraldi introduce his sidemen and then thank the crowd.

One minor caveat, alas: The second disc's fourth track is not "Autumn Leaves," as claimed. The good news is that it's a marvelous piece of music. The bad news is that we've never been able to identify it (so if somebody out there recognizes it, please tell me!).

These recordings represent Guaraldi at the top of his "classic" form, mere months before he'd begin heavy experimentation with the electronic keyboards that would take him on a fusion-laced detour for the next several years.

The CD packaging is impressive, with an eight-sided gatefold that includes plenty of vintage photos and a lengthy essay by Guaraldi biographer (and author of this page) Derrick Bang.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- keyboards
Eddie Duran -- guitar
Andy Acosta -- bass
Al Coster -- drums

Track listing:
"Ode to Billie Joe"
"Going Out of My Head"
"Eleanor Rigby"
"Nobody Else"
"Theme to Exodus"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Once I Loved"
Unknown track [incorrectly listed as "Autumn Leaves"]
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Nobody Else"


The Very Best of Vince Guaraldi

"The Very Best of Vince Guaraldi"

*****

Vince Guaraldi

No LP release

Fantasy Records FAN-33760-02

Released August 7, 2012


Yes, we have yet another "greatest hits" collection, the third in three years. Some might suggest this is going to the well a bit too often, but can the world ever get too much of Guaraldi's music? The real challenge was finding something new to write, when I was once again asked to contribute an essay for the liner notes. (You'll have to let me know how well that turned out.)

Granted, some of the usual suspects turn up again, but you'll also find a few tracks not present on those earlier collections, such as "Django" and "The Lady's in Love with You." This new CD appropriately opens with "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," as it was Guaraldi's sole Billboard hit and Grammy winner (and nominee). "Linus and Lucy" and "Treat Street" are present, as well; both were among the pianist's most heavily requested signature tunes.

Guaraldi's Black Orpheus arrangements are represented here by "Manha de Carnaval," one of the film's four primary themes. This gentle ballad, which Guaraldi opens with a quiet solo keyboard run, is first heard in the film as Orpheus practices the tune on his guitar, crooning lyrics that reflect his growing infatuation with Eurydice, the captivating young woman he has just met. The film's handling of this song is playful, light and enticing, as is appropriate for two young people falling in love. Guaraldi's approach, while just as tender, also is somber and haunting, his minor key runs and chords foreshadowing the tragedy soon to befall this star-crossed couple.

Starting in the mid-1960s and continuing until shortly before his death in February 1976, Guaraldi frequently performed at El Matador, a Broadway nightspot that was opened in 1953 by author and bullfighting aficionado Barnaby Conrad. Walter Pastore purchased the club in 1963; one year later, Guaraldi and his band had become a regular fixture. No surprise, then, that he wrote a song based on all the good times he enjoyed at this club. "El Matador" has a pulsating, South-of-the-border vibe, with one of the pianist's catchy left-hand rhythm hooks, complemented by a coltish right-hand melody that might have called picadors into a bullfighting ring.

"El Matador" also hails from the two-year recording and performing reign of the Guaraldi/Bola Sete Quartet, at its peak so popular, in Anne Sete's words, that "There'd be lines of people for blocks, trying to get in. And all the marquee said was 'Vince and Bola.' "

On another collaborative album, From All Sides, Sete helped freshen up "Ginza," a Guaraldi original dating back to the pianist's first Fantasy album, 1955's Modern Music from San Francisco. The earlier version of that tune was a sassy, keyboard-driven romp with echoes of Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz"; "Ginza" remained just as peppy, as slightly re-imaged a decade later with Sete, the guitarist's fingers no doubt a blur -- when viewed during live club appearances -- as they raced along the strings to deliver the fast-paced melody.

All in all, a nice package for folks who don't already own all the albums from whence these songs derive.

Personnel:
Vince Guaraldi -- keyboards
[See original recordings for sidemen]

Track listing:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Charlie Brown Theme"
"Christmas Is Coming"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"Django"
"El Matador"
"Ginza"
"The Lady's in Love with You"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Manha de Carnaval"
"Outra Vez"
"Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise"
"Star Song"
"Treat Street"

Guaraldi compositions:
"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"
"Charlie Brown Theme"
"Christmas Is Coming"
"Christmas Time Is Here"
"El Matador"
"Ginza"
"Linus and Lucy"
"Star Song"
"Treat Street"





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