The Very Best Of
Concord Music Group
This is the Fantasy Jazz disc that most non-jazz fans will gravitate toward. It's got part of the 1963 A Charlie Brown Christmas special on it; that show was so popular that they run it for a few weeks every year at the holidays. "Linus and Lucy" is the signature tune that immediately flips the switch in your brain labeled "holiday," but there are three other cuts centered on his syncopated piano playing and ear for tuneful composition. I'm too tone deaf to hear if the chords "ACBC" appear in any of these songs, but if they did it would be the sort of Easter Egg Guaraldi would enjoy.
All of this man's important work appears here, ranging from "Cast Your Fate To the Wind" to "Ginza" to the zippy "The Lady's in Love with You." Guaraldi even picks up a guitar for a romp in "Django" before returning to his trusty piano for the soothing "Star Song." Like so many musicians, Guaraldi died tragically young, from a heart attack at 47. In his short but productive career, he made jazz music more accessible to more people than anyone else. His work pushes just far enough to hold a general audience while still finding fresh approaches to arrangement. Plus, he had one deadly cool handlebar moustache.