VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
11 DEC 13 JASON SERINUS
One of America's most beloved holiday creations, the Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas, has returned. Now in a deluxe package from Fantasy.
It's housed in a colorful cardboard sleeve that doubles as an easy-to-assemble Christmas house complete with stand-up figures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and Snoopy, the 14-track CD includes three delicious tunes ("Greensleeves," "Great Pumpkin Waltz," and "Thanksgiving Theme") that were not part of the original LP issue of the soundtrack to the 1965 animated CBS-TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. And thanks to Joe Tarantino's excellent new digital remastering, it also offers sound far superior to that on the original CD issue.
Given that I supplied the whistling "Voice of Woodstock" to the 1980 animated CBS-TV special, She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, the fact that the Library of Congress honored the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2012, when the recording's "cultural, historical or aesthetic significance" led to its preservation in the Library's state-of-the-art Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, counts for a lot in my book.
The Library has acknowledged that A Charlie Brown Christmas introduced Guaraldi's light and lovable original jazz themes from that TV special, as well as his jazz versions of both traditional and popular Christmas music, to an entirely new audience. It also guaranteed that Charles Schulz' heart-warming Peanuts family would become an indelible part of American folklore. As you listen to this irresistible album, it becomes clear that Guaraldi performed a minor miracle.
29 NOV 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI
"Black Friday," day one of the 2013 year-end holiday shopping season, is also Record Store Day, which independent record stores throughout the US will celebrate with stockings full of exclusive new collectible vinyl releases. Few of these releases will solicit good cheer like Fantasy Records' new Record Store Day edition of Vince Guaraldi's classic 1964 single "Linus and Lucy" backed with "Oh Good Grief," the pianist's timeless trio recordings with drummer Colin Bailey and bassist Monty Budwig, issued on gold vinyl with a new Peanuts cartoon picture sleeve.
At its rhythmic heart, the irresistibly two-fisted "Linus and Lucy" sings out the passion for samba and bossa nova that ignited Guaraldi's Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus (Original Jazz Classics Remasters, 2010) with this same trio. It's one of the most recognized and popular tunes ever recorded. Its flip side, "Oh Good Grief," swings a jaunty yet reflective two-minute boogie that glides and tumbles in and out of the blues.
This single accompanied the 1965 release of the first full Peanuts soundtrack, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (Fantasy, 1996). Both "Linus and Lucy" and "Oh Good Grief" are also available on Greatest Hits (Fantasy, '89) and more far-ranging, two-CD retrospective The Definitive Vince Guaraldi (Fantasy, 2009).
20 NOV 13 DAVID VIENNA
Kris Bowers won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center. Next year, Heroes + Misfits, his debut as a bandleader hits shelves.
Bowers explained the path that led to recording "Forget-Er" with Julia Easterlin for Revive: He said, "I hit up Julia right after the competition and was like, ‘I want to do a song with you.’ ... Julia sent me a couple different samples and the one that ended up as 'Forget-Er' really drew me in right away." Give the track a listen.
21 OCT 13 CHRIS SLAWECKI
Freddie Redd's San Francisco Suite: For Jazz Trio (Original Jazz Classics, 1990) captures a rare snapshot of the pianist expertly fronting a trio that romps through standards and originals -- most notably Redd's masterwork, a musical panorama of the City by the Bay drawn across three movements, the title San Francisco Suite.
Using only piano, drum and bass, Redd paints an expansive vision of San Francisco in broad and vivid colorful strokes. Its dawning "View Of the Golden Gate Bridge From Salsalito" awakens in hustling and bustling melody, the busy sound of morning city traffic (this same melody sings of "Barb" to begin the Suite's final movement). In between, Redd surveys "Grant Street (Chinatown)" through a twinkling oriental melody that somehow becomes the down-home Gospel classic "Down By The Riverside" before downshifting into barrel-house blues.
Other Redd originals also merit much praise. The elegant ebullience of "Blue Hour" suggests pianist Red Garland, and Garland's sly as a wink style twinkles through "Minor Interlude," too. And for some reason, the old-time sounding "Old Man River" suits Redd very well, as he wanders through its melody and harmony unhurriedly but powerfully, his piano swelling and ebbing, an irresistible force of music.
If you'd like to hear more Redd, Piano: East/West (OJC, 1991) puts selections by another one of Redd's trios together with quartet tracks led by pianist Hampton Hawes; Redd also appears as pianist on the trumpet/alto summit led by Art Farmer, When Farmer Met Gryce, (OJC, 1994).
BROWSE ARCHIVE OF JAZZ VOICES