Most of us recall A Charlie Brown Christmas - the classic animated special that originally aired on network television during the holiday season of 1965 - as the moment when pianist Vince Guaraldi first breathed life into the entire Peanuts gang with a series of compositions that have since become as iconic as the characters themselves.
But a year earlier, Guaraldi had scored a Peanuts TV special of an entirely different kind. After the success of A Man Named Mays, a documentary of San Francisco Giants center fielder Willie Mays, TV producer/director Lee Mendelson set out to tell the story of another ball player who had soared to similar fame during that same era: the hapless but resilient sandlot underdog, Charlie Brown. The result was A Boy Named Charlie Brown, a 60-minute documentary about Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.
Due to the whims of network programmers at the time, A Boy Named Charlie Brown never aired. Even an alternate version edited down to 30 minutes wouldn't sell. Nevertheless, Fantasy forged ahead with the 1964 release of the documentary soundtrack - originally titled Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown, but later shortened in subsequent pressings - without the cross-promotional support of its television counterpart. Regardless of the project's hamstrung origins, Guaraldi's compositions, augmented by bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey, paint an evocative backdrop to Schulz's cast of engaging and enduring characters.
"Consider the historical irony," says Peanuts historian Derrick Bang. "This must be one of the few times (the only time?) that a record label has released a soundtrack album for a film never granted public exposure."
A limited edition, collectible vinyl reissue of the original 1964 Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown soundtrack is set for release by Fantasy Records via the Concord Music Group in celebration of its 50th anniversary. As adoring fans of both Guaraldi's and Schulz's work, Concord has proudly put significant effort into faithfully restoring all components of the LP with a special bonus: colored vinyl. The reissue comes complete with Schulz's classic, quirky design, historic liner notes in a gatefold jacket, and reproductions of 8 x 10 lithographs of Peanuts characters.