George Winston and Vince Guaraldi. Two musicians who evoke wildly different memories for me. Guaraldi is famous for his compositions for the classic Peanuts TV specials, especially A Charlie Brown Christmas, a seminal part of my childhood. Jazz pianist Winston was part of the stable at Windham Hill Records in the late 1970s and 80s, a label whose folk and New Age sounds immediately conjure simpler days as I made my first forays into a musical career in college. In 1996, Winston recorded the first volume of Guaraldi tunes, Linus and Lucy. A second solo piano volume of signature Guaraldi tunes, Love Will Come, has recently been released on RCA Victor.
When I think of Guaraldi’s music, I, of course, immediately jump to the jazzy, upbeat tunes he provided for the Peanuts specials. And there are plenty of those jazz-inflected tunes scattered throughout the album. Fans of the TV specials will recognize snippets of familiar melodies, though no one track seems to be a direct quote.
Woodstock’s familiar tune is there, as well as “Time for Love” (an interpretation of the main theme from THERE’S NO TIME FOR LOVE, CHARLIE BROWN), “It Was a short Summer, Charlie Brown,” and “You’re Elected, Charlie Brown.” But “Air Music” (also known as “Surfin’ Snoopy”), which was used in three Peanuts specials, will probably be the most familiar tune.
Click Track: Air Music
In addition to the Peanuts tunes, the album contains lyrical jazz, Latin-tinged songs, and bebop. But it is the quiet moments that are particularly lovely. Tracks like “Love Will Come,” “Room At the Bottom,” and “Rain, Rain Go Away” show us the poignant beating of Guaraldi’s heart beneath his inimitable talent.
Click Track: Love Will Come 2
The liner notes provides a bio of Guaraldi and reminiscences by Winston. The detailed notes by Jay Junker and Winston on each track, including the history of the tunes and the musicals keys, are most impressive.
Like Winston’s work at Windham Hill, the album is a pleasure to listen to. While the piano playing sounds a little heavy-handed at times, that may be a product of the engineering. I personally would have dialed back the bass lines a bit, though the bass does give the recording some depth. But those are minor quibbles. Winston has obvious affection for Guaraldi’s music and it shows in his performances.
The question becomes, with recordings of Guaraldi playing his own tunes out there, why purchase Winston’s interpretations? As Winston says in the liner notes, “I want to do what I can to help keep [Guaraldi’s] legacy alive.” Sounds like a pretty good reason to me.
Film Score Click Track [rating:4/5]
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: http://cmp.ly/2