Vince Guaraldi’s ‘Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus’ Celebrates 60 Years With Deluxe Reissue

Out on November 18, the deluxe edition of the widely-hailed 1962 album offers 16 bonus tracks, including 12 previously unreleased selections.

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'Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus' - artwork courtesy of Craft Recordings

Craft Recordings proudly celebrates the 60th anniversary of Vince Guaraldi’s breakthrough album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, with a variety of reissues. A deluxe, expanded edition of the 1962 album—featuring the Grammy Award-winning instrumental hit “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”—offers 16 bonus tracks, including 12 previously unreleased selections, with outtakes and alternate takes of nearly every track on the album.

This definitive edition will be released as a 3-LP, 2-CD, or 24-track digital collection, with newly remastered audio by engineer Paul Blakemore. Produced by Nick Phillips, the original album is cut from the original master, while the bonus material was transferred from the original analog tapes by Plangent Processes. Lacquers for the 3-LP edition were cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed at RTI on 180-gram vinyl. Both physical formats also include new, in-depth liner notes by jazz writer Andrew Gilbert (San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, KQED Arts). The digital offering comes in standard and Hi-Res options. The CD and Digital formats will release on November 18 with the LP set due to follow on February 24.

Additionally, Craft will offer a limited and numbered pressing of the original, eight-track album as part of their acclaimed Small Batch series, which offers discerning listeners the highest-quality, authentic sound—distilled to its purest form. As with previous Small Batch pressings, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus was cut from its original analog tapes by legendary engineer Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound and a one-step lacquer process—as opposed to the standard three-step process—allowing for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record.

The limited nature of these pressings guarantees that each record is a true representation of the original lacquer and is as close as the listener can get to the original recording. Craft’s all-analog, one-step series has drawn praise from critics far and wide, with Hi-Fi Choice describing the audio quality as “Extraordinary,” while Stereophile commented that the series is “beautifully done,” and Record Collector described the sound as “flawless.”

The vinyl disc—extractable through a unique, frictionless ribbon pull-tab—is housed in a reproduction of the album’s original, tip-on jacket and protected by an archival-quality, anti-static, non-scratching inner sleeve. Rounding out the package are new liner notes by Derrick Bang, the foremost Guaraldi historian and author of Vince Guaraldi at the Piano (McFarland & Company).

Long before Vince Guaraldi’s name was synonymous with the beloved PEANUTS animated specials, he was a rising star in the West Coast jazz scene. The San Francisco-born pianist began his career in the early ’50s, playing alongside the Latin-influenced vibraphonist, Cal Tjader. By 1954, Guaraldi established his own trio and, within a year, his first recordings as a bandleader were released by Fantasy Records as part of their multi-artist collection, Modern Music from San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, the Bay Area label signed Guaraldi to an exclusive deal, releasing his self-titled debut album in 1956, followed by A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing in 1957. But it was the pianist’s third album, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus, that found him settling into his own as a leader and establishing his signature style. The 1962 LP would also serve as his commercial and creative breakthrough, opening new avenues that even Guaraldi couldn’t have imagined.

Cast Your Fate To The Wind (Take 5)

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The album’s origins began several years earlier, with the release of the 1959 film, Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus). Based on Orfeu da Conceição, a 1956 Brazilian stage production by Vinicius de Moraes, the Marcel Camus-directed film reimagined the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, placing it instead in Rio De Janeiro, amid the annual Carnival celebrations. Rising Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim was tasked with scoring the film, alongside Moraes, while guitarist Luiz Bonfá also penned two selections (“Samba de Orfeu” and “Manhã de Carnaval”). Orfeu Negro not only won the Palme d’Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but it also introduced much of the world to the music of Brazil—particularly the captivating sounds of bossa nova. The musicians behind the soundtrack, meanwhile, became international sensations.

Guaraldi—who was no stranger to Latin rhythms, given his tenure with Tjader—was immediately taken with the score and conceived of a concept album based on the film. The pianist began recording in November 1961 at San Francisco’s KQED studio with his new trio, featuring bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey. During these initial sessions, the three musicians recorded several standards for the album, including the Buddy Johnson-penned blues ballad, “Since I Fell for You,” and Henry Mancini’s soon-to-be-classic, “Moon River,” which had just debuted in the Audrey Hepburn film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. As the long-shelved session tapes revealed, the trio also recorded Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” at this time. While the song was not part of the original album, three never-before-heard, high-energy takes are included as bonus tracks in this latest edition of Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus.

The trio returned to the studio in February 1962, where they tackled two new compositions by Guaraldi: “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” and “Alma-Ville”—both of which offered hallmarks of the pianist’s musical panache. AllMusic notes, “For the first time a recognizable Guaraldi piano style emerges, with whimsical phrasing all his own, a madly swinging right hand and occasional boogie-influenced left hand, and a distinctive, throat-catching, melodic improvisational gift.”

The February date, which took place over a mere four hours, also found the trio interpreting four selections from the Black Samba soundtrack: Jobim’s “O Nosso Amor” and “Felicidade” (mistitled as “Generique” on the original LP release), as well as Bonfá’s “Manhã de Carnaval” and “Samba de Orfeu.” In his liner notes, Gilbert praises, “Guaraldi, Budwig, and Bailey interpreted the Black Orpheus material with impressive care and feeling,” adding that the rhythm section’s work “stands the test of time, effectively articulating a North American impression of the bossa nova pulse.” The alternate takes further showcase the musicians’ talents—as well as their ease with the genre. An unreleased version of “O Nosso Amor,” for instance, “features a Guaraldi solo that embodies everything that made him such a charismatic presence at the keyboard, with his bright touch and irresistible bounce,” marvels Gilbert.

Guaraldi would continue to delve deeper into the sounds of Brazil and famously paired up with guitarist Bola Sete later in the decade. But it was Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus that changed the course of the pianist’s career. “Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus was a landmark achievement that introduced a trio with a singularly alluring sound,” writes Gilbert. “The combination of burnished lyricism, rhythmic subtly, and exquisite dynamic calibration set it apart, but the group’s impact flowed equally from its repertoire.” Recorded months—if not years—before other American jazz artists embraced the popular sounds of Brazil, the album also placed Guaraldi at the forefront of the bossa nova movement.

Released in April 1962, Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus made Guaraldi a household name—thanks, in large part, to the irresistible sounds of “Cast Your Fate to the Wind.” Released as the B-side to “Samba de Orpheus,” the instrumental track was embraced by DJs across the country, eventually landing at No.22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No.9 on the Easy Listening chart. In 1963, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” earned Guaraldi a Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition. Over the years, the track would be covered by a range of artists, including Quincy Jones, George Benson, Allen Toussaint, the James Gang, and Mel Tormé (who added lyrics).

Perhaps most famously, however, the tune caught the ear of television producer Lee Mendelson, who was searching for a musician to score a documentary about PEANUTS creator, Charles M. Schulz, and his popular comic strip. While the film was never released, Guaraldi recorded the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas the following year—creating one of the best-selling jazz and holiday albums of all time in the process. Before his sudden death in 1976, Guaraldi would score more than a dozen PEANUTS animated specials. Yet, the pianist’s musical legacy extends far beyond those enduring soundtracks, and Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus is a prime example of that.

Pre-order Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus.

Jazz Impressions Of Black Orpheus: CD tracklist:

Disc 1:
“Samba de Orfeu”
“Manhã de Carnaval”
“Nosso Amor”
“Cast Your Fate to the Wind”
“Moon River”
“Since I Fell for You”
“Samba de Orfeu” (Short Version: Take 1, Set 3, Previously Unreleased)
“Samba de Orfeu” (Long Version: Take 1, Set 3, Previously Unreleased)
“Manhã de Carnaval” (Take 1, Set 3, Previously Unreleased)
“Manhã de Carnaval” (Take 2, Set 3)

Disc 2:
“Nosso Amor” (Take 1, Set 3, Previously Unreleased)
“Nosso Amor” (Take 2, Set 4, Previously Unreleased)
“Felicidade” (Take 2, Set 2)
“Felicidade” (Take 4, Set 3 Previously Unreleased)
“Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (Take 2, Previously Unreleased)
“Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (Take 3)
“Cast Your Fate to the Wind” (Take 5, Previously Unreleased)
“Alma-Ville” (Take 2, Previously Unreleased)
“Since I Fell for You” (Take 3, Previously Unreleased)
“Jitterbug Waltz” (Take 1, Previously Unreleased)
“Jitterbug Waltz” (Take 1A, Previously Unreleased)
“Jitterbug Waltz” (Take 2A, Previously Unreleased)

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