Vince Guaraldi died of a sudden heart attack February 6, 1976 at the age of 47. His death ended a career that included a sudden career shift and unexpected popularity. Today he is best remembered for writing the scores for sixteen Peanuts television specials that are now familiar to several generations.
After serving a stint in The United States Army during The Korean War, he joined Cal Tjader as a pianist during 1953. He would continue to play with him for most of the decade before leading his own jazz groups.
His life changed with the release of the movie Black Orpheus, which was filmed in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus. Guaraldi was so impressed with the film and its music he had his trio record an album titled, Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus, which was released during 1962. His trio at the time included him as the pianist, with bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey in support.
That album has now been reissued as a part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters Series with the expanded title, Cast Your Fate To The Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. The first side of the original vinyl release has a Latin feel as he reinterprets the soundtrack music from a jazz perspective. “Samba De Orfeu,” “Manha De Carnaval,” “O Nosso Amor,” and “Felicidade” all have a Bossa Nova feel that was so popular at the time.
Not having enough material for an album, he added two standards of the day, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” and the Skyliners hit, “Since I Don’t Have You,” plus two of his own compositions, “Alma-Ville” and “Cast Your Fate To The Wind.” Today it is this second side that remains the most accessible. His piano playing, which is delicate in places, presents his melodies well.
A shortened version of “Samba De Orpheus” was released as a single but received little attention until radio stations began playing the flip side “Cast Your Fate To The Wind.” It would become a hit single, reaching number 22 and win the 1963 Grammy Award for Best Original Jazz Composition. Sounds Orchestral would take it into the Top 10 with their version during 1965, but it was Guaraldi’s version that would come to the attention of the Peanuts television specials producers. And the rest is history.
This reissue comes with five bonus tracks, four of which are alternative takes plus the single version of “Samba De Orfeu.”
The reissue of Cast Your Fate To The Wind: Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus is a nice look into the jazz work of a noted televison musician. It may not be groundbreaking but is representative of the Latin and light jazz sound of the day.