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vince guaraldi trio performing live

Gentlemanly Jams – Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

‘Tis the season to listen to holiday music. For obvious reasons, the experience is different this year. We’re all in stores less often, so we haven’t been hearing much of the annual debate on how early is too early for retailers to start playing holiday music. Some of them wait until after Thanksgiving, and others don’t even wait for Halloween to be over. Either way, we’re enjoying some at the shop – specifically, Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

We’ll also see that he had quite a bit of personal style. Who can’t appreciate that?

Vince Guaraldi Background

vince guaraldi album cover
Note the button-down collar of Mr. Guaraldi’s shirt.

Vincent Anthony Dellaglio was born on July 17, 1928 in San Francisco. He was an Army cook in the Korean War in his younger days. During his young adulthood in the 1950’s, jazz became an increasingly popular part of American culture, which inspired him to learn the piano (not to mention guitar and singing). He contributed to jazz’s popular output until his untimely death at the age of 47.

His success as a musician isn’t due to virtuosity – he never considered himself the greatest pianist – but rather to his success in television. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has been an American television classic for over five decades, and Mr. Guaraldi is responsible for its soundtrack. Even if you’ve never heard Vince Guaraldi’s name before, we’d bet that you’re familiar with his music from your childhood.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

a charlie brown christmas album coverThis is great Christmas music because it’s different than other Christmas music. It eschews traditional holiday music’s comforting predictability in favor of understated sophistication. Absent is the inherent cheesiness that we often hear in modern Christmas music. Maybe we’re projecting, but you can only listen to Wham!’s “Last Christmas” so many times before you get a bit tired of it.

Its near-entire lack of lyrics contributes to “A Charlie Brown Christmas'” soothing, comforting vibe. Instrumentally, there’s a lot of airiness, reminiscent of a clear winter night in the city after a heavy snow. “O Tannenbaum” conjures images of the kind of Christmas party you’d expect to see on Mad Men. “What Child Is This” is thoughtful, reflective, and barely recognizable until the end of the melodic line.

vince guaraldi trio performing live
Vince Guaraldi Trio mid-performance.

Though it’s a Christmas album, there’s some holiday-agnostic work on the album as well. In another case of your ear knowing something that your mind might not, you’re already familiar with “Linus & Lucy” even if you’ve never heard that song title. The left hand piano work in the intro is unmistakeable.

Some of the traditional carols on the album feature a children’s choir from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael. This further cements its innocence and warmth.

Vince Guaraldi’s Style

vince guaraldi in three button jacket
Guaraldi’s three-button, skinny lapel suit was a hallmark of 1960’s style.

As you can see from pictures throughout this post, Mr. Guaraldi had a bold look to him. His is a case study in what the right pair of glasses can do for your personal style. The thick, bold frames he chose paired well with the thick, exaggerated, handlebar mustache he sported for a while.

Given that it was the 1960’s, his style was inspired by the times. Three-button suits with skinny lapels and Ivy League-inspired jackets and ties dot his attire, and the look seems to fit him perfectly.


vince guaraldi with guitar playerWe hope that, in spite of everything going on in the world, that you’re managing to find joy in the holiday season. We can, of course, help you with gifts for the men in your life. Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to see what we can do for you. Until then, enjoy these other articles:

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