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Music Review: Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas [Remastered & Expanded]

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Of all the Christmas specials that air on television during the holiday season, none is more beloved than A Charlie Brown Christmas. This Peanuts special was a huge hit when it debuted in 1965 much to the surprise of network executives. Although there are many reasons for the show’s enduring appeal, one of them has to be its jazz soundtrack composed by pianist Vince Guaraldi.

The album has become a perennial favorite among Christmas albums for good reason. The jazz score manages to invoke many of the same emotions that the show does through Guaraldi’s capable arrangements of both standards (“O Tannenbaum,” “The Christmas Song,” and “Greensleeves”) as well as his own original compositions (“Christmas Time is Here,” “Linus and Lucy,” “Skating,” and others).

In this remastered edition, all of the songs previously released on earlier versions of the CD have been digitally enhanced, providing the listener with a clearer, crisper sound than was available before. Although the original CD release in 1987 sounded good, the new edition reduces much of the background hissing and noise that was heard on the earlier version. As a result, the beloved sounds of the show are consequently more fun to listen to.

There is also an added bonus on the remastered CD: two additional tracks from other Peanuts specials (“The Great Pumpkin Waltz” and “Thanksgiving Theme”). While equally delightful alongside the Christmas selections, the only drawback is that they were mixed in mono rather than stereo. As a result, the difference is a little jarring at first, only because the Christmas tracks on the CD are in stereo.

For those who are fans of both the special as well as its unique soundtrack, this CD is a worthwhile investment. Vince Guaraldi’s daring jazz soundtrack has become essential listening over the holidays. This new remastered edition will make that experience a little more special.

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