Season of Influence with Vince Guaraldi’s Greatest Hits

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The Autumn season beings upon a tranquil transition between the scorching heat of the Summer and the frost-stricken mist of the dead Winter. The winds of suburbia begin to caress and sway the maple leaves piled on the nearly moist grass. The serenity cultivates a funny feeling within the people who go about their day throughout this transition.

All of a sudden, traffic isn’t as dreadful as work isn’t as soul-drenching. It could be the hollowness of the grey skies or the spirited cheer of the upcoming holidays. A warm mug of coffee with the nice glow of the television seems to be a much more appropriate picture during this time.

Jazz music itself has been a cultural staple of this time of the year. Augmented, but not belonging to, the 1960’s Halloween special of The Peanuts has brought along the aesthetic that Jazz music has on the Autumn season.

In the scenes where Schroeder awaits for the inimical “Great Pumpkin” with Sally Brown, the light piano pelts with some bass strings, adding heavily to the water colored night sky in the vastness of the pumpkin patch.

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Behind the music in the early works of The Peanuts is the conduction Jazz maestro Vince Guaraldi. Being responsible for the main iconic theme song itself, Guaraldi has spent his lasting years composing his music for the Peanuts before his untimely death in 1976.

Through the loftiness of his prestige from the Peanuts, Guaraldi was heralded by fans by his integration of foreign sounds into his typical Jazz routine. Along with his trio, consisting of Drummer Colin Bailey and Guitarist Eddie Duran, he’s also made some personal collaboration with Brazilian guitarist Bola Sete.

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(Guaraldi behind the grand piano in the middle)

A lot of the compilation introduces Guaraldi’s ear for South American-influenced guitars and “tropical” sounds. Before Guaraldi, the Jazz scene held very little musicians that had that type of aperture in their music if they weren’t natives themselves.

Jazz music was cultivated in America. With all the cultural variations and approaches to the genre, Jazz was first a proud, American sound that defined the twentieth century. Past the Harlem Renaissance movement and perforating away from the Bebop era, composers like Guaraldi opened his heart and mind to the regional wonders of his talent.  

This compilation curated meticulously does his introduction to justice. The inspiration he’s aggregated throughout his years is exposed in bits and pieces here. As an example, the second track, Ginza Samba, has a conspicuous influence from Bossa sound, based around Sete’s light-hearted guitar and Guaraldi’s own piano.

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Guaraldi has proved himself to be a master pianist. The next track, Mr. Lucky, is revolved around his piano composition. Supplemented by the array of lightly heard percussion, the composition results in a well-rounded work of cohesion.

In Star Song, each instrument is transparent to the ear. The execution with the instrumental cohesion sound simple in tone but shows real attribution from every player, native or foreign.

A good contrast in detail would be comparing the tracks Outra Vez and Samba De Orpheus. Outra Vez contains percussion influenced by Latino America, entangling the sweet, equatorial sounds of the tropics with the pervasive instruments of the American Jazz genre.

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Samba De Orpheus is conducted by Vince Guaraldi’s Trio, which indicates a mostly American appeal. Guaraldi’s piano is the most expressive instrument in the composition, which is aided by a playful bass-lines and a crenulated drum pattern.

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The last three compositions, which act as the coda for the compilation, are his most infamous works from the Peanuts series. Oh, Good Grief, Linus and Lucy, and the instrumental to Christmas Time is Here act as the final touches to Guaraldi’s legacy.

My introduction to his work was present around the Autumn season. There doesn’t seem to be a more elevating feeling than listening to Guaraldi’s music during the midst of Chicago’s softest season.

Although this season brings upon my intuition to listen to his work, Jazz music, in general, is most appropriate to whenever you feel the most resonance with it. Guaraldi’s music could play at any time of the year, and still esoteric to the listener’s resonance, it can display a feeling of an oasis in times of crises.

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