Subject: ARCHIVE: February 6, 1976 ~Noted Jazz musician/composer Vince Guaraldi, best remembered by most for his association with Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" television specials, and its memorable Jazz-infused music, co-writing the classic "Christmastime Is Here". He was 47. ...
[ Vincent Anthony Guaraldi ]
(July 17, 1928 – February 6, 1976)
Born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio, was an American jazz pianist noted for his innovative compositions and arrangements and for composing music for animated television adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip, as well as his performances on piano as a member of Cal Tjader's late 50s ensemble and his own solo career which included the radio hit Cast Your Fate to the Wind.
Early career and Grammy Award ...
Guaraldi was born in San Francisco's North Beach area, a place that became very important to his blossoming musical career. His last name changed to Guaraldi after his mother, Carmella (née Marcellino), divorced his biological father (whose last name was Dellaglio) and married Tony Guaraldi, who adopted the boy. His maternal uncle was musician, singer, and whistler Muzzy Marcellino. He graduated from Lincoln High School, attended San Francisco State College, and served in the U.S. Army as a cook in the Korean War.
Guaraldi's first recording was made in November 1953 with Cal Tjader and was released early in 1954. The 10-inch LP was called The Cal Tjader Trio, and included "Chopsticks Mambo", "Vibra-Tharpe", and "Lullaby of the Leaves". By 1955, Guaraldi had his own trio with Eddie Duran and Dean Reilly. He then reunited with Tjader in June 1956 and was an integral part of two bands that the vibraphonist assembled. The first band played mainly straight jazz and included Al Torre (drums), Eugene Wright (bass) and Luis Kant (congas and bongos). The second band was formed in the spring of 1958 and included Al McKibbon (bass), Mongo Santamaría (congas and bongos) and Willie Bobo (drums and timbales). Reed men Paul Horn and Jose "Chombo" Silva were also added to the group for certain live performances and recordings.
Guaraldi left the group early in 1959 to pursue his own projects full-time. He probably would have remained a well-respected but minor jazz figure had he not written an original number to fill out his covers of Antonio Carlos Jobim/Luis Bonfá tunes on his 1962 album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, inspired by the French/Brazilian film Black Orpheus. Fantasy Records released "Samba de Orpheus" as a single, trying to catch the building bossa nova wave, but it was destined to sink without a trace when radio DJs began flipping it over and playing the B-side, Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind". A gentle, likeable tune, it stood out from everything else on the airwaves and became a grass-roots hit. It also won the Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. While "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Guaraldi achieved modest chart success as a single in 1963, a cover version two years later by British group Sounds Orchestral cracked the Billboard top 10 (in the spring of 1965). Unlike many songwriters who grow weary of their biggest hits, Guaraldi never minded taking requests to play it when he appeared live. "It's like signing the back of a check", he once remarked.
Guaraldi then recorded an album called Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete and Friends with guitarist Bola Sete, Fred Marshall (bass) and Jerry Granelli (drums). This began a period of collaboration between Guaraldi and Sete where Guaraldi began experimenting with bossa nova-influenced music as well as with the electric piano. This led to the recording and release of his album The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi. Shortly after this, Guaraldi undertook the role of composer and pianist for the Eucharist chorus at the San Francisco Grace Cathedral. Utilizing his Latin influences from his bossa nova days with Bola Sete, Guaraldi composed a number of pieces with waltz tempos and jazz standards and later recorded this performance in 1965.
Guaraldi appreciated the potential in some of the radio waves' pop tunes of the day. For instance,
he recorded his own version of "I'm a Loser", written by John Lennon and originally a hit for the Beatles. ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_gJBPcda90
Compositions for Charles Schulz's Peanuts ...
While searching for music to accompany a planned Peanuts television documentary, Lee Mendelson (the producer of the special) heard a single version of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Guaraldi's trio on the radio while traveling in a taxicab. Mendelson contacted Ralph J. Gleason, jazz columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and was put in touch with Guaraldi. He proposed that Guaraldi score the upcoming Peanuts Christmas special, and Guaraldi enthusiastically took the job, performing a version of what became "Linus and Lucy" over the phone two weeks later. The soundtrack was recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, with drummer Jerry Granelli and bassist Fred Marshall. Guaraldi went on to compose scores for seventeen Peanuts television specials, as well as the 1969 feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown and the unaired television program of the same name.
Guaraldi died at age 47, on February 6, 1976. The evening before, he had dined at Peanuts producer Lee Mendelson's home and was reportedly not feeling well, complaining of indigestion-like chest discomfort that his doctor had told him was nothing to worry about. The following evening, after concluding the first set at Butterfield's Nightclub in Menlo Park, California, with his interpretation of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby", Guaraldi and drummer Jim Zimmerman returned to the room they were staying in that weekend at the adjacent Red Cottage Inn, to relax before the next set. Zimmerman commented, "He was walking across the room and just collapsed. That was it."
PHOTO of the former site of Guaraldi's final gig at Butterfield's Nightclub (later Gaylord Restaurant), razed to the ground in 2010. The Red Cottage remains. ...
Guaraldi's cause of death has been variously described as a heart attack or an aortic aneurysm.
Guaraldi had just finished recording the soundtrack for It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown earlier that afternoon.
Guaraldi's death was a blow to his colleagues. "It was totally unexpected", said Mendelson. "The day of his funeral, they played the Charlie Brown music over the sound system in the church. It was not an easy day; he was so young. It was one of the saddest days of my life. He was up to my house the night before [his death], and said he had not been feeling well, and didn't know what it was." Peanuts animator Bill Meléndez added, "He was a real good guy and we miss him." He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, CA., beside his mother. ...
A book-length biography of Guaraldi was published in March 2012. Vince Guaraldi at the Piano, by author and Guaraldi archivist Derrick Bang, chronicles Guaraldi's career and role in the Northern California jazz scene, and also includes a complete discography and filmography, as well as an appendix of quotations from Guaraldi's former sidemen.
Some of Guaraldi's Peanuts compositions have been recorded by Dave Brubeck, Wynton Marsalis, and other jazz musicians.
Jazz musician David Benoit has often credited Guaraldi and the original Peanuts Christmas special music for his interest in jazz. In 1985, Benoit recorded a cover of Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" for an album called This Side Up, which enjoyed considerable radio airplay and helped launch the smooth jazz genre. He released "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" on the album Waiting for Spring in 1989.
Pianist George Winston released a Guaraldi tribute album
in 1996 entitled Linus and Lucy – The Music of Vince Guaraldi. ...
...Winston performed many Peanuts songs that had not been released by Guaraldi himself. "I love his melodies and his chord progressions", Winston said of Guaraldi. "He has a really personal way of doing voicings." The album was very successful, leading Winston to record a follow-up entitled Love Will Come – The Music of Vince Guaraldi, Volume 2, released in early 2010. In 2003, a live performance of the eight-part "Charlie Brown Suite" was released on the album The Charlie Brown Suite & Other Favorites. The performance was culled from tapes in Winston's private collection.