A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas is wonderful.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio in 1965. This is album is one I would consider essential to anyone really looking to score their holiday. It successfully does what I think few if any other holiday albums do by setting a cool calm tone, it’s not so much “jolly”. It’s not saying “let’s drink some egg nog and wrestle!!”, nothing like that. It’s a relaxing smooth album. Even the uptempo stuff is played in a minimalistic fashion keeping it from getting too “merry”. Overall it’s definitely in my top five of Christmas albums.

I never would have a expected a album baring Charlie Brown in it’s title to be of such a high caliber. Any other cartoon oriented holiday album I can think of is pretty kitschy and limited in what style of music is presented. No doubt what sets this one apart is it’s head composer, Vince Guaraldi. Vince Guaraldi was a successful jazz musician from San Francisco California. If you look into his history a bit you’ll see that he really didn’t need to make a successful Charlie Brown album, up until his death in 1976 he made literally dozens of jazz albums but this one was clearly a labor of love. The fact that you can still buy it today, in it’s complete form, not chopped up like so many Christmas albums from that time period, is a testament to it’s overall integrity.

I love this album. It’s a perfect contrast to most of the holiday music you’ll find elsewhere. First off, it’s mostly instrumental and purely smooth jazz. I’m not a big smooth jazz guy, as I said in the past I’m more into the upbeat tempo of big band stuff and hot jazz but in this case smooth jazz fills the roll perfectly. Say you’ve had a busy Christmas day. You’ve put the kids to bed, cleaned up dinner, all the wrapping paper has been disposed off and you’re left with a crackling fire and a present less tree. Now is the perfect time to fire up this album. A little sad, a little happy, very laid back, the kind of album Christmas album you could sleep to if you wanted, I know that’s an unusual endorsement but I mean it in a good way.

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