Collector’s Corner

It's A Good Album, Charlie Brown


Concord's new Peanuts Portraits compiles music that pianist Vince Guaraldi composed and performed between 1964-1974 for several television specials based upon Charles Schulz' unforgettable Peanuts characters, and was released to coincide with this year's 60th anniversary of the comic strip's 1950 newspaper debut.

Music for Peanuts always occasioned Guaraldi's best work. Here he impeccably glides through his tribute to Peanuts' resident pianist "Schroeder," based upon "Minuet in G" by (who else?) Beethoven, and twirls notes like a little girl would absentmindedly finger and worry her own locks before settling into the funky little blues jam "Frieda (With The Naturally Curly Hair)." Both "Schroeder" and "Frieda" are previously unreleased alternate takes.

"Peppermint Patty," "Blue Charlie Brown" and "Charlie's Blues (Variation)" feature Guaraldi on electric piano and you can even hear Guaraldi sing out on the soulful blues groove "Little Birdie," his tune for Snoopy's pal Woodstock. (Interesting side note: In the cartoon She's A Good Skate, Charlie Brown, Woodstock was voiced by champion whistler and Classical writer Jason Serinus.)

Of course, there's always Guaraldi's two-handed tumble through his timeless "Linus & Lucy," which got me to wondering: How many thousands of times have how many millions of people danced in their heads to this song? To the rhythms of the resolute and optimistic Linus and his chattering nag sister? To the dancing Latin passage or that cool walking middle passage, both of which sound like smiles of joy? How many? The number must be staggering. Then I wondered: Did Guaraldi somehow know that his sibling portrait, cast in three small minutes, would bless the world eternally?