Door 13: Vince Guaraldi

Some artists' work is so intricately linked, that it raises the question, if it could stand on its own. This is especially the case in moving pictures and their respective sound. Famous examples therefore are Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone or David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. A similar situation but perhaps a little bit less known is the link between Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts and the musician Vince Guaraldi.

Guaraldi was born in 1928 in San Francisco's North Beach area. He went to San Francisco State College and then served in the Korean War as a cook. After coming back, he started to play the piano in various ensembles, most famously with Cal Tjader. His first recording with him was called The Cal Tjader Trio and released in 1954.

He left the group in 1958. Inspired by the film Black Orpheus and the increasing popularity of Bossa Nova, he recorded the album Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. The b-side of his single Samba de Orpheus called Cast Your Fate to the Wind became a minor hit and earned Guaraldi the 1963 Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition.

This single was heard by television producer Lee Mendelson and he directly contacted Vince Guaraldi to record the soundtrack for a planned Peanuts documentary entitled A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Unfortunately the documentary due to lack of funding was never released, but the soundtrack was a success and secured Guaraldi the score for more Peanuts television specials, most notably A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Guaraldi's music gave the films a special touch and the series its trademark sound, which appealed to Jazz fans, but also people, who were not into Jazz.