Before he met Charles Schulz and Charlie Brown, Vince Guaraldi was a household name in jazz because of his work with Cal Tjader and his success with "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" from his Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus album. The CBS television program A Charlie Brown Christmas spread Guaraldi’s fame far beyond jazz households. First broadcast in 1965, the show is one of the best-loved animated specials in TV history, repeated year after year during the Christmas season. Charlie Brown’s struggles against the crassness of holiday commercialism in search of the true meaning of Christmas mirrored Guaraldi’s philosophy of music. Schulz’s story struck in Guaraldi a responsive chord, many chords. The simplicity, the rightness, of the music he crafted to reflect the personalities of Charlie, Lucy, Snoopy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang is greatly responsible for the success of the production. There are no choirs, no strings, no sounding brass, no tympani rolls; just occasional children’s voices and jazz trio music written and played with perfection and sensitivity.
"…If the TV sound version of this is embedded in your sonic DNA as it is in mine, when you hear how superbly well recorded it really is, you'll be in for a more than pleasant shock. Guaraldi's piano, along with the bass and drums, are given a natural, relaxed recorded treatment in the magical mid-sixties analog recording style. The Hoffman/Gray, Gray/Hoffman collaboration yields another truly special-sounding LP. Even if you only whip this out around Christmas time, it's worth picking up, as it will put you in a real Christmas mood, not an artificial one." Music = 8/11; Sound = 10/11 – Michael Fremer, www.musicangle.com