© - Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
“The hardest task an artist faces is not just to achieve self-expression; that almost comes by definition even if it's difficult to hone that self-expression into something good enough to be art.
It is another kind of thing altogether (and it strikes me as more difficult) to look at, hear, feel and experience somebody else's artistic expression and then make something of your own which shows empathy, which relates to the other but which still has your own individual artistic stamp.
This is what, is seems to me, Vince Guaraldi achieved with his scores for Charlie Brown. He took his inspiration from the creations of Charles Schultz and made music that reflects that inspiration, is empathetic with the image and is still solidly and unmistakably Vince Guaraldi.
It was natural for him to do this—he's been reading Peanuts for years, as who hasn't?—but he brought some very special talent along to the process.
Vince has big ears, a wide range of feeling and a poetically lyrical manner of playing and of writing jazz music. Off stage he's flip and funny, salty and serious and sometimes stubborn. At the piano, he's all music, all lyricism and all jazz.
In the Educational Television three-part film, "Anatomy of a Hit," Vince was shown as a sensitive introspective little man whose dreams became music. This is true. Ever since he was a student at San Francisco State College he has dreamed music and music has been his dream. In the years of apprenticeship he spent with Cal Tjader and Woody Herman and with his own group (until he hit the big time with "Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus" and "Cast Your Fate to the Wind"), Vince has learned the hard lesson of how to transmit those dreams from his mind through his hands to the keyboard.
Jazz is a music of individualism. As such it is truly a music of people, not styles. Each person develops his own sound, his own voice, his own musical personality which, with some, is expressed only in their own playing. With Vince, the personal sound, the personal voice and the individual musical personality is expressed not only in his playing but in his composing as well.
All the characters in Peanuts are artists confronted with the illogical, blind and mechanistic world. It was natural that Vince Guaraldi's music should fit so well.”
- RALPH J. GLEASON