Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday: Jimmy Scott & Vince Guaraldi

It's been 87 years today since the day of his birth and a career spanning 65 years for Jimmy Scott, a Jazz singer who influenced the likes of Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, Billie Holiday and a host of other music greats, also performing with artists from multiple genres. He first rose to prominence as "Little Jimmy Scott" in the Lionel Hampton Band when he sang lead on "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", which became a top ten R&B hit in 1950 after being recorded in 1949.

In 1963, Scott was signed to Ray Charles' Tangerine Records label, under the supervision of Charles himself, creating what is considered by many to be one of the great jazz vocal albums of all time, Falling in Love is Wonderful. Scott performed at President Dwight Eisenhower's (1953) and President Bill Clinton's (1993) inaugurations, where he sang the same song, "Why Was I Born?".

2007 NEA Jazz Master Award Scott
Kennedy Center's "Jazz In Our Time" Living Legend Award
N.A.B.O.B.'s Pioneer Award

Vince Guaraldi (July 17, 1928 – February 6, 1976) was an Jazz pianist noted for his innovative compositions and arrangements and for composing music for animated adaptations of the Peanuts comic strip.

Inspired by the French/Brazilian film Black Orpheus, Guaraldi composed and released Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus in 1962. Fantasy Records released "Samba de Orpheus" as a single, trying to catch the building bossa nova wave, but it was destined to sink without a trace when radio DJs began flipping it over and playing the B-side, Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate to the Wind". A gentle, likeable tune, it stood out from everything else on the airwaves and became a grass-roots hit. It also won the Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition.

While searching for just the right music to accompany a planned Peanuts television documentary, Lee Mendelson (the producer of the special) heard a single version of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" by Vince Guaraldi's trio on the radio while traveling in a taxicab on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Mendelson contacted Ralph J. Gleason, jazz columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and was put in touch with Guaraldi. He proposed that Guaraldi score the upcoming Peanuts Christmas special and Guaraldi enthusiastically took the job, performing a version of what became "Linus and Lucy" over the phone two weeks later. The soundtrack was recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, with drummer Jerry Granelli, and Puzzy Firth standing in for bassist Fred Marshall, who was ill at the time. Guaraldi went on to compose scores for seventeen Peanuts television specials, plus the feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown as well as the unaired television program of the same name.

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