The holiday season is upon us and malls across the country have begun to blast the usual array of piped in Christmas music. Although many of those tunes may make customers wish they could skip forward to January, one classic concerto is sure to bring back fond memories in the most jaded of hearts.
Linus and Lucy, composed by Vince Guaraldi for the television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, has become one of the most popular and well recognized pieces of jazz music in the world.
The only thing better than listening to Mr. Guaraldi’s music is seeing it performed live by jazz piano legend, David Benoit.
On Sunday, November 30, 7:30 p.m. Mr. Benoit will perform A Tribute to Charlie Brown at The Newmark Theater in downtown Portland.
Mr. Benoit’s version of Linus and Lucy has become the one that is most often associated with the Peanut’s franchise. He has been the chief composer for the Charlie Brown specials for the last ten years.
David Benoit grew up in Los Angeles, California. Although he played the piano as a small child, his family sold their piano and he didn’t have a formal piano lesson until he was thirteen.
He began his career as a musical director for Broadway star Lainie Kazan in the mid-seventies. He went on to work with Ann –Margaret and Connie Stevens.
Mr. Benoit music is considered unique as he often uses a string section in his compositions. His style became part of the genre known as smooth jazz.
Mr. Benoit’s first solo album entitled Waiting for Spring went to number five on the Billboard contemporary Jazz charts in 1987. After that his album Freedom at Midnight was the number one Jazz album in 1989.
He has performed for at the White house for Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr, and Bill Clinton.
Mr. Benoit says that he has identified with Charlie Brown since childhood because he was, “a loser who couldn’t do anything right.”
“Until I really got good at the piano I just couldn’t find myself. When I heard that music on the Charlie Brown Special, I knew what kind of music I wanted to play,” he told John Bathke in a 2013 interview.
Although he is credited as one of the founders of smooth jazz, he told Bathke he hates the term because the genre became, “dumbed down and dumbed down until it wasn’t creative anymore.” He pointed out the style has become known as elevator music.
Vince Guaraldi began his career as a pianist in the The Cal Tjader Trio. After leaving to go off on his own in 1963 his song Cast Your Fate to the Wind became a hit and won a Grammy for Best Original Composition.
Lee Mendelson, who was the producer of the Charlie Brown Christmas special heard Guaraldi’s hit song and knew the music was perfect for the show.
Mr. Guaraldi went on to compose seventeen specials for Peanut’s before his death at the age of forty-seven.
Mr. Benoit concert will feature The Grant High School Royal Blue Choir which is a selective group of acapella singers comprised of the very best students.
Shiva Bharadwaj, who is an Indian drummer will provide the opening act for the show along with Shankar Viswanathan and Lyndsey Sherman. Mr. Bharadwaj is a member of Rhythmic Melodies.
Part of the opening act will include Mr. Viswanathan performing vocal percussions.
Tickets prices are $41.25 in advance and $46.25 on the day of show. Tickets are available at the Portland’5 Box Office, TicketsWest outlets or by phone at 800.273.1530.
Eliza Gale – PortlandMetroLive Contributor
Eliza Gale began her blogging career interviewing aspiring actors and industry professionals on a Los Angeles based website called Curvewire. She started http://elizagalesinterviews.com/ in 2012 and have interviewed over three hundred people about their jobs and businesses since then. She has contributed many interviews to 360drinks.com, which is a Portland based happy-hour website. She also writes for Examiner.com and AXS.com.