As a child of the 70s-80s, I came to jazz music in my 30s, via a coworker, friend and golf partner. Of course, I never realized that the music from the beloved Peanuts shows of my childhood was jazz.
That music was played by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, headlined by Vince Guaraldi. Guaraldi was born into what I would call at least a somewhat musical family, as both maternal uncles headlined their own jazz bands in the North Beach area fo San Francisco. Releasing his first record in 1951, in 1954 he formed his first trio which performed in San Francisco. In 1955, he was performing as the leader of a trio. Some of those performances were released by Fantasy Records, who offered him a recording contract. In 1956 his first full album as a headliner, Vince Guaraldi Trio, was released. At the same time, he was appearing with another jazz band, Woody Herman’s Third Herd.
The 1962 piece Samba de Orpheus, written as a filler piece for a cover album, catapulted him to fame. Folllowing that, he began performing and experimenting with players such as Bolo Sete and experimenting with other musical genres and instruments. But it was his work on 1965’s A Charlie Brown Christmas that rather “sealed his fate” as the guy that wrote the Peanuts music.
Guaraldi continued making music, for both the Peanuts franchise as well as non-Peanuts works, until his death of a heart attack in 1976. He was 47, and I have to wonder what would have been if he had lived longer.