Review in Brief: Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi - George Winston

LinusLucyWinston.jpgWith its stylized cover photo of San Francisco, little about the packaging of George Winston's 1996 album Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi suggests "kids music." Indeed, we had this in our own family long before we had any idea what a Baby Bjorn was, let alone struggled to make those snaps, well, snap. But through his scores for 15 Peanuts television specials and one movie, Guaraldi's music may be more familiar to Americans old and (especially) young than that of just about any jazz composer. So it's with the nostalgic thoughts of repeated viewings A Charlie Brown Christmas that many adults may be tempted to get this album, both for themselves and for their kids. Winston, a pianist better known for his New Age(ish) soundscapes and lesser known for his affinity for Hawaiian slack key guitar, plays things pretty straight here. His renditions of two familiar cuts from the Christmas score, "Skating" and "Linus and Lucy," sound much like the original recordings, with only a little flourish at the end of "Linus and Lucy" to distinguish itself from the original. Guaraldi was often backed by his own Vince Guaraldi Trio, so Winston's solo piano does have to do a little bit more work than Guaraldi's original piano work did with other musicians. Other highlights include Winston's rendition of Guaraldi's hit "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" (again, not so different from the original) and the brief "Bon Voyage," but there really aren't bad tracks. One of the main reasons to get this album is the broad net Winston casts across Guaraldi's work, both Peanuts-related and not -- sadly, it might just be the best Greatest Hits album out there for Guaraldi. Whether or not the kids will be interested in this album is another question entirely; this is probably one of those CDs the parents will play much more for themselves than for their kids. Which isn't a bad thing, either.