Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hat Tricks for the Headless


At least once in this blog I've mentioned the pianist Vince Guaraldi as the author of something rarely performed in art or any other space, the hat trick: 3 perfect things. Most people don't get the opportunity or possess the talent to do one very good thing in their lifetime. In his short life, Vince produced a perfect single (Cast your Fate), the best album ever recorded (Vince Guaraldi at Grace Cathedral) and a sound track (A Charlie Brown Christmas) so good that everything else compared to it makes you seriously consider deafness. The only parallel performance I'm aware of is Gaudi's Best of all Possible Churches (Sagrada Familia), Parks and Houses. So when I learned that Vince's son was releasing new work from his long dead dad, I was enthralled. The above is now playing on my CD player. Listened to his newly remastered Charlie Brown Xmas and Suite last night. With considerable chagrin.
I've been to enough concerts over the decades to know musicians are uneven in playing their standards. If they weren't, they'd probably die of boredome before taking the stage. Alternate takes of Cast Your Fate, which I agree with my piano teacher is a perfect song, would natuarly be less than. Vince, his producer, record company or someone with serious taste decided the version he released as a single was the best. Now hearing this perfect song take 2, 3, etc, I cannot help but feel chagrinned at the variance from the perfection. Some of the Peanuts tunes also suffer from comparison with the recorded perfections. But overall, listening to North Beach is being in the presence of a working musician. Not a genius, not someone so high up in the sky you need a large telescope to view his fingers, just a guy who got paid for playing the piano, and enjoyed that fact. I'm now listening to North Beach for the 2nd time (first mostly in a car, great accoustics but attention must be elsewhere) and it's more enjoyable than the 1st. It is not the 2nd coming, but it's more good music, and we can never get enough of that.

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