Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas (Craft) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, October 21st, 2021  

Vince Guaraldi Trio

A Charlie Brown Christmas


Oct 06, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Much less a Christmas record than it is a crucial staple of West Coast jazz culture, Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack possessed a dual cultural significance. Not only did it help to further popularize Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts comic strip and its corresponding CBS holiday special, but it also played an integral part in reintroducing jazz music to the 1960s mainstream.

Released in December 1965, Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack fared well among audiences and eventually was hailed as a seasonal classic. While typical audiences were enjoying the saga of Charlie Brown as he struggled to successfully direct a floundering Christmas play, prove the worthiness of his pathetic sapling, and fight against the monotony of holiday commercialization, Guaraldi’s tender score subtly sets the mood of the experience.

A certain warmth permeates Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, comfortable piano notes and swaying percussion providing a source of warmth in the coldest of Decembers, as felt on opening track “O Tannenbaum.” Guaraldi, already an established practitioner of his craft, punctuates the atmosphere with his steady jazz expertise, offering a unique take on a handful of holiday classics, along with some impressive original compositions.

Covers of seasonal standards such as “What Child Is This” and “The Christmas Song” brim with Yuletide spirit, while Guaraldi’s own “Skating” reflects the best of his overall vision—whimsy, smoothness, and introspection rich in wonder and melody. Of course, “Linus and Lucy,” Guaraldi’s major achievement as a composer, serves as the crisp red bow tied across the album, and “Christmas Is Coming” reflects the balmy coolness to which the entire Peanuts franchise has remained ever partial.

The album’s greatest point of interest, however, is the instrumental version of “Christmas Time Is Here,” which stands as a positively stunning jazz composition on Guaraldi’s part. The crisp track drifts like a glassy layer of snow dust, blown across a pale winter wonderland. Its rich melody embodies the peace of low candlelight flickering through a frosted window on a cold winter’s evening. It is easily the most intimate of A Charlie Brown Christmas’s 11 tracks.

In commemoration of Vince Guaraldi’s masterful legacy, Craft Recordings is presenting a special edition collectable A Charlie Brown Christmas vinyl, complete with a sleek, silver foil jacket. As a beloved relic of so many childhood Christmases, A Charlie Brown Christmas will certainly excite fans and collectors alike, while the album’s status as an iconic jazz release will render Craft’s new offering relevant to genre enthusiasts. A Charlie Brown Christmas will surely go down as the great holiday release of the year. (

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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