Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!

I am always wary to say something is the best, because I always know that five minutes later a new best will come, and the old will be obsolete and passe. But here is one album I can say is the best with no qualms and no hesitance.

Vince Guaraldi Trio's A Charlie Brown Christmas is the finest Christmas album ever created.

And here's why:

Rather than forcing pumped-up, glossy holiday classics down our throats the Trio creates jazz-soaked, perfectly produced reincarnations of the originals. Guaraldi's arrangements, for instance, of "What Child is This?" is a re-imagining of sorts, with gliding, trickling piano and a simply flowing bass line.
When Guaraldi tackles the oft-harshly covered "My Little Drum" (Little Drummer Boy), the chords don't pound like so many of the song's reproductions- they ring, and the song comes across in a new, inspired light.
Following "My Little Drum" on the album is the ubiquitous classic, "Linus and Lucy." A masterpiece at least, the song fluidly blends elements of rag, jazz and pop into a tune that feels fresh at each listen. The song sounds as though it were written in a stream-0f-consciousness fashion; Guaraldi just walking along the street and noticing the shuffle of his own feet and the playful melody in the wind- and then transcribing it onto the staff.
The piano is the best showcased element on most tracks off the album, but percussion and bass shine as well. The top bass line off Christmas comes in "Christmas Time is Here"- the strings are vibrated confidently, with ease and a free-flowing glide.

I could go on, I won't simply because I feel myself becoming redundant. I think you get the message though. Among all the glossy, pop-star, over-produced Christmas albums that exist, A Charlie Brown Christmas is by far the most listenable, the most enjoyable, and the most inspired. Each song is a flawless-sounding reworking, with not a cringe-worthy note in the bunch.

1 comment:

Peg said...

There is a great review of/meditation on this album that appeared on several years ago; well worth checking out!