A beloved Christmas classic is coming to Victoria. The year was 1965, when drummer Jerry Granelli, the newest member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio, with Fred Marshall on bass, went into a San Francisco studio. In just a three-hour session they recorded the soundtrack for a low-budget animated Christmas special featuring the Peanuts gang.
Born in 1940 in San Francisco, Jerry Granelli was growing up while the city’s jazz scene was sprouting its wings, sneaking out to clubs and learning to play drums from Dave Brubeck percussionist Joe Morello. In the early ’60s, Granelli heard that Guaraldi was looking for a drummer and so he went to the audition for the coveted opening. Barely into his twenties, it was his first paid jazz job.
The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s contemporary jazz backing was an advanced accompaniment to children’s programming at the time, with songs like “Linus and Lucy” and “Christmas Time is Here” not only becoming classics, but serving as many children’s first experience with jazz. Oddly enough, the trio had no idea this gig would become their most iconic. They’d never seen any of the artwork. They were in and out of the studio in a flash, recording only two or three takes per song. No one knew that this would become the classic soundtrack for ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’.
As the only surviving member of the original group, Granelli and his new trio are recreating the magic of a holiday classic. After decades refusing to perform songs from the Christmas classic, Granelli had a change of heart. Three years ago, things became clear - the music had to be performed again. He gathered together a new trio: Simon Fisk on bass and Chris Gestrin on piano, and suddenly, the shows were selling out. Together with the Victoria Children’s Choir, the band brings the spirit of Christmas to life through stunning music and charming holiday tales.
Jerry Granelli appears on stage, telling the story of how it almost never happened; how the magic of the music, of Charlie Brown, of Vince Guaraldi, was persevered; how it stands, today, as a classic. ‘Tales of a Charlie Brown Christmas’ is a look into the past. As we take a stroll down memory lane, the music remains the focus—to play it and to hear it live, living and breathing. Jerry Granelli and his trio will spend ninety minutes drawing from the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ soundtrack, sharing the stage with The Victoria Children’s Choir. There will be charming stories, lots of music and a rush of Christmas spirit.