Vince Guaraldi – Jazz Impressions Of Charlie Brown from 1964

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  • This superb pressing boasts Shootout-winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side two
  • Guaraldi introduced the world to his unique, melodic, elegantly simple style with this very album – only a pressing this good does the timeless score justice
  • Not the quietest copy we’ve ever played, although finding one much quieter than this is simply not in the cards unless you’re willing to settle for much poorer sound quality
  • 5 stars: “The most remarkable thing, besides the high quality of Guaraldi’s whimsically swinging tunes, is that he did not compromise his art one iota for the cartoon world; indeed, he sounds even more engaged, inventive, and lighthearted in his piano work here than ever.”

On both sides, but especially on this Shootout Winning side one, the sound was jumpin’ out of the speakers. There was not a trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except for us of course).

If you have full-range speakers, some qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano on this recording are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.

In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies.

But a few copies survive all such hazards. (Too few, hence our prices.) They manage to reproduce the full spectrum sound of the piano (and of course the wonderful performances of the musicians) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we never expected from a ’60s Fantasy pressing such as this one.

Wonderful Piano Trio Music

What the best pressings are doing is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1964
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Listen to the fingering on the bass — every nuance of Monte Budwig’s playing is clear, yet at the same time does not sound in any way forced or hyped-up, in the way that Three Blind Mice and many audiophile recordings do
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments of the trio having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space where you want to be

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we describe above, and for that you will need to take this copy of the record home and throw it on your table.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Good Grief
Pebble Beach
Happiness Is
Schroeder  
Charlie Brown Theme 

Side Two

Linus And Lucy
Blue Charlie Brown
Baseball Theme
Freda (With The Naturally Curly Hair) 

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown is an important album not only because it is Guaraldi’s first Peanuts soundtrack, but also because the music heard here probably introduced millions of kids (and their parents) to jazz from the mid-’60s onward. Actually, this music is the score for a documentary on the Peanuts phenomenon called A Boy Named Charlie Brown, which ran before the first Peanuts specials per se appeared on the CBS network.

The most remarkable thing, besides the high quality of Guaraldi’s whimsically swinging tunes, is that he did not compromise his art one iota for the cartoon world; indeed, he sounds even more engaged, inventive, and lighthearted in his piano work here than ever.

It must have been quite a delightful shock back then to hear a straight-ahead jazz trio (Guaraldi, Monty Budwig, bass; Colin Bailey, drums) backing all those cartoon figures and genuine children’s voices, a mordant running musical commentary that made its own philosophical points.

The music on this album laid the groundwork for much that was to come; here is the first appearance of the well-known bossa nova-influenced “Linus and Lucy,” and fans of the series will recognize such themes from future episodes as “Baseball Theme” and “Oh, Good Grief” (which is a rewrite of the Dixie Belles’ hit “Down at Papa Joe’s”).