A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 1965 studio album by American composer/conductor Vince Guaraldi (later credited to the jazz group the Vince Guaraldi Trio). The album was released in December 1965 in the United States by Fantasy Records. It is the soundtrack to the CBS Christmas television special of the same name.
AllMusic Review by Shawn M. Haney:
Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz called on pianist extraordinaire Vince Guaraldi and his trio to compose and perform music that would reflect the humor, charm, and innocence of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the entire Peanuts gang for their 1965 Christmas TV special. It was a perfect match: Guaraldi strings together elegant, enticing arrangements that reflect the spirit and mood of Schulz’s work and introduce contemporary jazz to youngsters with grace, charm, and creativity. “What Child Is This” touches on cool jazz’s richly textured percussive nuances, while “The Christmas Song” reflects Christmas’ relaxing, mellow moments. The renowned “Linus and Lucy” gives the Peanuts characters a fresh, energetic feel with its tantalizing meter changes, brilliant percussion, and dashing, humorous piano lines. “Christmastime Is Here,” perhaps the album’s most endearing and eloquent moment, is six minutes of soft, lullaby-like melodic and percussive flavors. This collection of soul-soothing melodies would not be complete without the romantic gem “Skating,” which blends musical references to falling snowflakes with the dashing feel of swing. Finally, the uplifting, emotionally stirring swing tune “Christmas Is Coming” really brings the listener into the joyous light of the Christmas spirit. Fred Marshall’s alluring walking basslines and drummer Jerry Granelli’s hauntingly beautiful brush work give most of the album a warm foundation, while Monty Budwig and Colin Bailey shine through with eminent dexterity on bass and drums on “Greensleeves.” As for Guaraldi, his penetrating improvisational phrases paint pictures of the first winter snowfall, myriad glistening trees, and powdery white landscapes. With its blend of contemporary jazz and lyrical mannerisms, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a joyous and festive meditation for the holiday season (https://goo.gl/jrBYjA).
“O Tannenbaum” (Ernst Anschütz) – 5:08
“What Child Is This” (William Chatterton Dix) – 2:25
“My Little Drum” (Vince Guaraldi / Katherine Kennicott Davis) – 3:12
“Linus and Lucy” (Guaraldi) – 3:06
“Christmas Time Is Here” (Instrumental) (Guaraldi) – 6:05
“Christmas Time Is Here” (Vocal) (Guaraldi) – 2:47
“Skating” (Guaraldi) – 2:27
“Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” (Charles Wesley) – 1:55
“Christmas Is Coming” (Guaraldi) – 3:25
“Für Elise” (Ludwig van Beethoven) – 1:06
“The Christmas Song” (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 3:17
The Vince Guaraldi Trio
Jerry Granelli – drums
Vince Guaraldi – piano, Hammond organ, arrangement
Fred Marshall – double bass
Colin Bailey – drums on “Greensleeves”
Monty Budwig – double bass on “Greensleeves”
Children’s chorus for the songs “Christmas Time Is Here”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and when the kids all shout “Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” were performed by members of the choir of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, California. Several months before the making of Charlie Brown Christmas this choir was featured on the Vince Guaraldi recording Vince Guaraldi at Grace Cathedral.
Released: December 1965
Recorded: 1964–65 at Fantasy Recording Studios, San Francisco, California