Vince Guaraldi Biography

17 July 1928, San Francisco, California, USA, d. 6 February 1976, Menlo Park, California, USA. Jazz pianist and latterday easy listening composer Guaraldi played with Cal Tjader in the early 50s before moving through Bill Harris’ combo, and worked with Sonny Criss and George Auld. He also served as part of Woody Herman’s touring band in the late 50s, and recorded with Conte Candoli and Frank Rosolino in the 60s. His own trio originally included guitarist Eddie Duran and bass player Dean Reilly, a line-up which recorded two pleasant albums for the Fantasy Records label in the late 50s. It was in the early 60s that Guaraldi made a name for himself as a composer of light, romantic jazz-influenced songs. He assembled a new trio featuring bass player Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey, and recorded an album based on the 1959 French-Brazilian film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus). His most famous and deservedly long-lasting classic, ‘Cast Your Fate To The Wind’, was originally a b-side to the single ‘Samba De Orpheus’. The track became a US Top 30 hit in its own right in 1962 and subsequently won Guaraldi a Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition. A cover version surprisingly appeared high in the UK charts at the end of 1964 by a studio-only group Sounds Orchestral. In later years the song has been covered many times, with one of the better interpretations by noted Guaraldi fan David Benoit on his 1989 release Waiting For Spring.

Guaraldi is also widely known in the USA for his soundtrack theme music for the Charlie Brown Peanuts cartoon television series. He eventually composed sixteen scores for the television specials and the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown, prior to his death from a heart attack in February 1976. Guaraldi’s music received an unexpected boost in the mid-90s when some of his work was reappraised during the ‘space age bachelor pad music’ cult boom.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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