We’re dwelling in instances the place a lot is completed to govern us. And issues final for, what, a information cycle? A couple of minutes? This [album] is one thing that’s lasted 50 years. And never solely lasted, however grown … I feel there’s only a humanness. — Jerry Granelli
Because the Christmas season winds down, so too do advertising and marketing blitzes and consumerist frenzies that make it arduous to see the vacation as something however a year-end money seize. However even probably the most cynical amongst us would possibly admit to being moved annually by one Christmas basic, regardless of our spiritual beliefs, capitalist sympathies, or lack thereof: that basic, after all, is The Charlie Brown Christmas Particular. The skills of Charles Schulz, producer Lee Mendelson, and the Vince Guaraldi Trio mixed to make a present not solely greater than its elements, however much more enduring, maybe, than the juggernaut of Christmas commerce.
The selection of jazz for a primetime kids’s Christmas particular was impressed and edgy in 1965, although Guaraldi and his band weren’t initially booked for the vacations however for a never-completed documentary about Shultz that sparked the curiosity of company sponsor Coca-Cola. Mendelson realized the potential of the unfastened, breezy West Coast jazz of pianist Guaraldi, bassist Fred Marshall, and drummer Jerry Granelli for the newly-commissioned particular, and the band imported a lot from their unique music, improvising two new compositions and enjoying bluesy variations of “O Tannenbaum” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
As Granelli remembers it, Coke execs weren’t happy. “[A] little child was going to come back out and say what Christmas was all about, which wasn’t about buying. After which the jazz music, which was improvised,” didn’t jive with the fits. Nonetheless the present aired, to the good delight of kids and grown-ups all over the place for the previous half century or so. Granelli himself feared pigeonholing and left the challenge with “some residual unhealthy emotions over his paltry credit score and royalties.” He later “spent many years avoiding any nostalgia journey to the land of Linus and Lucy,” Nate Chinen writes at WBGO. “However throughout the final decade” earlier than his demise in July 2021, “he leaned into Peanuts, recognizing the enjoyment that Guaraldi’s soundtrack imparted, particularly across the holidays.”
Within the movies above, you possibly can see Granelli play “Linus and Lucy” and “Skating” along with his trio, with Chris Gestrin on Piano and Simon Fisk on bass, in 2014. Mentored by Dave Brubeck’s drummer, Joe Morello, Granelli toured the States in his early 20s, then joined the Vince Guaraldi Trio on returning to his dwelling within the Bay Space. He “shortly discovered his footing, changing into a vital pat of the Guaraldi sound,” writes Chinen. Guaraldi’s unique themes like “Linus and Lucy” and “Skating” “profit immeasurably from Granelli’s whisper-soft brushwork.” The Trio went on to report with Brazilian bossa nova guitarist Bola Sete, and the drummer made his mark on the music world in different contexts, co-founding and instructing on the Artistic Music Program of Naropa Institute (now Naropa College) in Boulder Colorado within the Nineteen Seventies.
“Jazz is only a reflection of life,” Granelli advised CBC Radio in 2020. “Life is improvised, life is unsure. It’s not strong. It’s not everlasting. The artwork I select disappears after it’s performed, it goes off into the ether. I like that.” Which may be so, however Granelli’s contribution to the artwork of The Charlie Brown Christmas Particular — music recorded in a 3-hour session when he was solely 24 years outdated — has now outlasted him, the final member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio to move away. Might he skate on in peace, wherever he’s now.
Associated Content material: