Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Composer-musician Vince Guaraldi's life was all too brief - cut tragically short by a heart ailment in 1976 - but during his 47 years, he carved a niche for himself as one of the most unique and spectacular jazz pianists and a key figure in jazz-pop crossover. A native of San Francisco's North Beach area, Guaraldi grew up in a musical family and demonstrated prodigious talent early in life, placing the strongest emphasis on jazz piano. He made some of his earliest appearances at the hungry i club, won fans in high places, and achieved national stardom following the smash success of his 1962 B-side single "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." Guaraldi's greatest legacy, however, materialized via his repeat collaborations with Lee Mendelson, producer of the animated adaptations of Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip. Guaraldi's score for A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) not only set the standard for additional Peanuts music, but deservedly became one of the most popular and commercially successful yuletide albums ever recorded. This documentary from filmmaker Andrew Thomas constitutes a biographical profile of Guaraldi's life and times; Thomas actually took preexistent material shot by Rolling Stone's Ralph J. Gleason in 1963 - a short documentary that covered Guaraldi's meteoric rise to fame via "Cast Your Fate" - and expanded on it with help from Gleason's son Toby. The final work incorporates around 25 minutes of the original film, plus rarely seen and newly-restored footage of the arti recording sessions and club appearances, as well as interviews with such heavyweights as David Brubeck, George Winston, Dick Gregory, Paul Mazursky, Jon Hendricks and others.
cartoons, composer, jazz, musician, pianist