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Spins: Vince Guaraldi Trio • A Boy Named Charlie Brown

| October 31, 2021


Vince Guaraldi Trio

A Boy Named Charlie Brown


The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s evergreen soundtrack to animated TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas served as an accessible primer in jazz music upon its 1965 release. Guaraldi and the band became indelibly connected to Charles Schulz’s comic strip characters in the process. That association had begun on LP with 1964’s A Boy Named Charlie Brown. This release celebrates Peanuts in springtime. The album is pressed on colored vinyl to match the grass surrounding Charlie Brown’s pitcher’s mound, where the hapless but hopeful title character is undoubtedly about to have his socks (and other attire) knocked off by another searing line drive. The LP also ships with a set of baseball cards featuring the Peanuts gang. The stats on the back of Charlie Brown’s card list his ERA as a whopping 80 runs per game. The familiar “Linus and Lucy” is included in advance of its appearance on Christmas, with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey completing the trio. Budwig’s walking bass and Bailey’s swinging hi-hat put a soulful step into “Blue Charlie Brown.” With Guaraldi’s sparkling soloing, the upbeat “Baseball Theme” evokes the breezy mood of a sunny and carefree day for a game at the ballpark. “Freda with the Naturally Curly Hair” has a sassy strut. “Oh, Good Grief” borrows and subverts the melody of childhood piano staple “Chopsticks” before embarking upon a delightful lounge-pop excursion. “Pebble Beach” is a hip-swaying bossa nova for the grownups on the dance floor. “Happiness is …” is a wistful and warmhearted ballroom ballad driven by Bailey’s brushed snare and Budwig’s rumbling bass notes. “Schroeder” offers a piano recital by the team’s Beethoven-obsessed catcher. The set concludes with “Charlie Brown Theme,” with a jaunty air that has nonetheless been overshadowed by Brown’s sidekick characters, the Van Pelts. Countless fans who entered the jazz world through A Charlie Brown Christmas would do well to step back one year in time to add this beautifully played set to their collections.

– Jeff Elbel

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