Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Linus and Lucy" – Jazz on Nylon #7

Okay, I really promise not to contribute overmuch to the ubiquitous holiday soundtrack, but I do have a wonderful performance today of Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus & Lucy” as part of the Jazz on Nylon series. It’s such a delightfully buoyant composition, & it seemed just the thing for a rainy Portland day.

“Linus & Lucy” became known through A Charlie Brown Christmas special that first aired in 1965—& yes, I was one of the many who watched during that first airing. Guaraldi’s score for the special produced not only “Linus & Lucy”, but also the lovely “Christmas Time is Here” & “Skating”. The song was originally written in Ab & is notable for an immediately recognizable bass line that weaves under the melody.

Vince Guaraldi was, of course, much more than a one-off composer who happened to score a Peanuts special. He was a highly respected jazz pianist & composer who also had a hit with “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”, released in 1962. Unfortunately, Guaraldi passed away in 1976 at the young age of 47.

Today’s version is by a formidable guitarist, Andrew York, who was one of the founding members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. York’s recording career dates back to the mid 1980s with Perfect Sky, which not only includes his version of “Linus & Lucy”, but also some of his own noteworthy compositions like “Andecy” & “Sunshine Rag”. His most recent release is Yamour, which came out on Majian Music in 2012.

York’s version of “Linus & Lucy” is in an interesting tuning that I’d not encountered previously: DADF#BE. The open strings form a D6/9 chord, & it’s a hybrid of standard tuning & open D tuning. Using this tuning—not to mention his very impressive chops!—York keeps the bass line moving as he moves the melody all over the fretboard. But the performance is much more than a tour de force; it’s a joyous & lyrical interpretation.

Hope you enjoy it!

Image links to its source. This is an image in Andrew York’s press kit; the photograph is by Terry De Wolf

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