This Week in Vinyl: Vince Guaraldi – Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

I came home from work this week to find this record neatly packaged and sitting on top of the record player. Always a nice way to end a trip.

I have to admit, it took me an embarrassingly long time to branch out from the Vince Guaraldi we all know and love. I’d wager that there isn’t a person alive who didn’t grow up listening to his music behind the Peanuts Gang adventures. Seriously, if you haven’t listened to A Charlie Brown Christmas, I… well, I’m just not sure what to tell you. At any rate, in recent years as I have endeavored to broaden my piano influences I finally started listening to Mr. Guaraldi’s other work. As you might expect, my first thought was,“Where in the hell has this record been all my life?”

I put the needle to the groove, the first crackles and pops came through my humble speakers, and as the music started, I had to sit down. I knew almost instantly that I had stumbled on to something exceptional. While I had heard this album through digital streaming, there’s something special about hearing it for the first time as it was originally intended. His style was immediately recognizable and I could hear hints of riffs or techniques that echoed the music I already knew and loved, which by this time he hadn’t recorded yet.

Side B opens with Cast Your Fate to the Wind. This. Song. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard this song was from George Winston‘s 1996 record Linus and Lucy. My mom had the CD in her collection and back in the days when burning CDs was a thing, I burned a copy and promptly wore it out. When I met my wife and began introducing her to jazz, this was one of our favorites. So, it could be said that I was familiar with the tune. But in all those years, I had never heard Vince Guaraldi play it himself. Until this week. Fortunately, I was already sitting down.

I did a bit of research before buying this particular record. There are plenty of reissues around for almost any album but when it’s possible (read ‘affordable’), I try to find a vintage selection. This is especially true for records or artists that have been influential to me. In my research I discovered that this album was recorded in 1962 and Fantasy Records initially made these red vinyl pressings for mono and blue vinyl for stereo recordings. By the mid 60’s however, they switched to black vinyl. That would date this copy as early 60’s and very likely a first pressing, however I can’t positively verify that. First pressing or not, I’m pretty thrilled to add this rare example of a spectacular record to my Jazz collection.

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