Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown


Just in time for the holidays, there's a new spiffed-up release of The Vince Guaraldi Trio's beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas. Remixed and remastered with four bonus tracks, it's even got the original Peanuts gang cover art. Pick up the CD or SACD, part of Concord's special holiday music selections, for the boomers in your life or download the MP3 album to set a cool, retro vibe at your Christmas party.

With a generous 16 tracks, you get both the vocal and instrumental versions of "Christmastime Is Here" as well as Schroeder's "Fur Elise." Re-listening with adult ears, I am amazed at the high level of musical sophistication in support of a children's show. "My Little Drum" is masterful arranging, with Guaraldi modulating through several keys over the repetitive drone of a children's choir. It's eerie yet strangely comforting at the same time.

Because of Guaraldi's soundtracks, I fell in love with jazz before I knew what jazz was. Back in the pre-DVR days, during my annual viewing of the Peanuts Christmas show I would run to the piano while the commercials played to teach myself the songs. I already knew the classics like "Hark The Herald Angels Sing" and "O Tannenbaum" but had never heard them played like that. The jazz voicings, swing feel and Guaraldi's signature descending cadences inexplicably thrilled my 9-year-old soul. Is Vince Guaraldi the reason I became a jazz musician? Quite possibly, yes.