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Vince Guaraldi

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San Francisco, United States (1953 – 1976)

Vincent Anthony “Vince” Guaraldi (July 17, 1928 - February 6, 1976) was an Italian-American musician and composer. Primarily a pianist, known for his breezy and playful improvisational voicings, Guaraldi cultivated his own innovative brand of music. As primary tunesmith for a number of animated adaptations of the comic strip Peanuts, his influence on young potential jazz listeners was vast. Notably, his soundtrack album to the special of the same name, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), is regarded as one of the greatest Christmas albums.

Born Vincent Anthony Dellaglio in San Francisco, the “city by the bay” would remain Guaraldi’s base of operations throughout his life, with Guaraldi eventually becoming a significant proponent of west coast jazz. Guaraldi’s first recorded work was as part of trio with Cal Tjader in 1953. By 1955, Guaraldi had formed his own trio; in contrast to his later, more well-known work, his earlier music was decidedly morose and classically-inspired, as well as lacking drum accompaniment. Moreover, his actual compositional output was vastly outnumbered by cover versions.

Inspired by the 1959 film Black Orpheus, the trio recorded an album featuring renditions of songs from its soundtrack, as well as original compositions inspired by the film; one such original song, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”, became an award-winning best seller of its time, peaking at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100. Subsequent vocal versions (with lyrics by Carel Werber) also charted. “Cast Your Fate…” also ensured Guaraldi’s hiring as composer for a number of planned animated adaptations of the world-famous Peanuts comic strip.

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