Album Review of A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi Trio
By Joe Hackman
Album: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Released in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the soundtrack for the Christmas special of the popular comic strip Peanuts, recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Although primarily Christmas-themed, this mostly instrumental holiday album can offer joy to any listener.
The piano intro in “O Tannenbaum” sets the mood for the rest of the album - cool yet festive. “What Child Is This?” and “My Little Drum” continue that theme. In the iconic “Linus and Lucy,” the trio belts out the infectious tune, almost as if calling to the listener to dance along. The instrumental version of “Christmas Time is Here” sprawls just over six minutes, allowing the band to showcase their skills. The vocal version of the song, along with a few other tracks, features a choir of children singing heartwarming lyrics. In “Skating,” the band improvises with quite a bit of energy, contrasted by the heavenly choir and organ in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” Another burst of energy appears in the lively “Christmas Is Coming,” leading into a soothing rendition of “Für Elise.” The album closes with another soothing song, “The Christmas Song,” which almost sounds like a lullaby and a jazzy one at that.
The Vince Guaraldi Trio -- consisting of Vince Guaraldi on piano, Fred Marshall on bass, and Jerry Granelli on drums -- performs the tracks with the utmost enthusiasm and excellent musicianship. Guaraldi dazzles with fabulous piano and organ, displaying a range of emotions from great joy to a laid-back shuffle. In songs like “Linus and Lucy” and “The Christmas Song,” his skill shines through. Marshall and Granelli reflect the moods of the songs with an appropriate groove, not shying away from a moment to demonstrate their skills as well.
Despite bearing the title “Christmas,” A Charlie Brown Christmas offers a superb wintery listening experience guaranteed to fill any heart with joy. This album is best listened to with a roaring fire nearby and a warm beverage in hand.
Note: This is a review of the original 11-track LP.