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Countdown to Yuletide: Musings on Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, Now with More Christmas Glitzy

Photo: Jared422_80. cc-by.

A Yuletide headphone bonanza. Maybe all records make headphone bonanzas, Yuletide notwithstanding; and I just lacked the gumption to slap’em on. Reviewers noted Guaraldi’s taste, style, restraint and such—what I’d like to note is how he makes that specific decision to rush the one note, which jars everything into conceptual perfection, right out of the gate on “O Tannenbaum.” And elsewhere dances around the beat, deciding, on the fly, what to put in and what to leave out, as the rhythm section makes room through its own dropouts. The kids sounds like kids on the tunes they get, which means they aren’t quite in tune. ‘Tis the season, after all, for forgiving.

The extra tracks add startling vistas, especially when maestro reaches for the Hammond organ and quite casually lays out loving on the top, melancholy down in the trenches. Multiple takes of, say, “O Tannenbaum,” reveal, for example, that he wasn’t born knowing when to rush the one note, but the learning curve shot up alarmingly. He’s courteous enough to his sidemen, although he was famous for never crediting them. They work together, slapping the clay. Watch carefully, off to one side, and you’ll see through cold dry air, as the clay constructs—amongst other seasonal delights—the Claus.


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