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Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi, a widely acclaimed jazz pianist best-known for his cheerful, uplifting music for Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang, got his start in the music biz in 1956 with a record entitled Blues Groove by Woody Herman. During the end of the '50s, Guaraldi laid down some witty and intimate piano work with stars such as Frank Rosolino and Conte Candoli. With his shining work on 1959's West Coast Jazz in Hi Fi, Guaraldi got more opportunities and more playing time. During the late '50s and early '60s, he spent countless gigs shaping and honing his craft under the apprenticeship of Cal Tjader and Woody Herman.

In 1955 came Guaraldi's first album as a leader: Modern Music From San Francisco. Guaraldi's artistic and commercial breakthrough was the reflective and witty Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus (1962); the song "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" went on to win Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz Composition. With the creation of the much-heralded A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Guaraldi got his first chance to dive into the genius of Charles Schultz, composing music with great charm and grace. Although the special was not aired on network television, Guaraldi used his time to begin his magical quest to score some of his greatest music, all boosting Schultz's Peanuts gang to greater fame. It was 1964's "Linus and Lucy" theme that propelled the pianist and cartoon artist into the stratosphere, later being released on future Peanuts collections, including the warm masterpiece A Charlie Brown Christmas. Released and first broadcast to a national television audience on December 9, 1965, people were sold on the delightful tunes of Guaraldi. It would go on to be respected as the most requested and the most heralded of holiday jazz albums. Though much of his fame has been centered on his musical exposure with the Peanuts gang, Vince Guaraldi continued to create breathtaking music on the ebony and ivory keys well into the mid-'70s.