Monday, October 6, 2014

An interview with David Benoit pianist and composer for Peanuts #Cbxmas #Giveaway

Did you grow up watching the TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas? I know this was a TV special my family would never miss. We all loved the characters and the story line, but most of all we  loved the music! The music made the film for me, and every time, I hear the score from the film, I am brought back to my childhood, it is amazing what music can do.

I recently had the chance to chat with, David Benoit, a contemporary jazz pianist and composer and the musical heir to original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi.

Since launching his recording career in 1977, David Benoit’s expansive career as a contemporary jazz pianist and composer has included over 25 solo recordings. His ’80s releases This Side Up, Freedom at Midnight and the GRAMMY-nominated Every Step of the Way are considered influential genre classics. Among his other GRAMMY nominations are those for Best Instrumental Composition (for “Dad’s Room,” from 1999’s Professional Dreamer) and Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance (for the GRP All-Star Big Band). 


His prolific output since 2000 includes several prominent Charlie Brown related projects (including Here’s To You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years and the star-studded 40 Years: A Charlie Brown Christmas) that reflect his lifelong passion for the music of original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi and solidify Benoit’s role as his musical heir. Benoit has also released the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charting albums Fuzzy Logic, Right Here, Right Now, Full Circle and Heroes, which paid homage to the pianist’s top jazz and pop influences.
Here is the  interview, with David Benoit:
(Photo from www.benoit.com)
When did your passion for Peanuts and the Peanuts music begin?- When I started reading strip at 8 years old; this was in the ’60s. I followed it very closely every day. Then I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas—we all gathered around the TV to watch it. It’s been a lifelong thing.

What was it about music and the brand that appealed to you so much- Well, it was Charlie Brown and he was a loser! He was depressed a lot, and I was having a childhood like that myself [laughs]. I related to him, and felt I had a kindred spirit out there. Then the music was jazz and piano and upbeat and fun—I got hooked on it right away.

What was your favorite piece of Peanuts music? - Of course, Linus and Lucy is the most popular one. I like Christmastime Is Here, that’s still one of my all-time favorites. Another one I like wasn’t written for Charlie Brown Christmas, it was written for a documentary on Charles Schulz—it’s a piece called Pebble Beach. A lot of hardcore fans will know that one.
What is it about A Charlie Brown Christmas and its music—what would the special be like without the music? - It wouldn’t have quite the same charm and appeal. It’s a perfect marriage. You can’t imagine one without the other. It must have been fate that brought Vince Guaraldi to Lee Mendelson. I know from writing original music for Peanuts, Vince Guaraldi was always the reference point.

What makes the Linus and Lucy theme so memorable? - It’s one of those immediately recognizable motifs—you’ve got the left hand movement, then the right hand comes in, and it’s highly syncopated. It just gets everybody happy. The power of music.

Why has the special remained so beloved? - It might be the simplicity in its message, that Christmas has become so commercial. It’s so simple and heartfelt. It has the makings of a classic because it’s so simple and so heartwarming.

Can you elaborate on your professional connection to Peanuts and how that came about?- I had recorded Linus and Lucy on a record called This Side Up. At that time, no one had ever covered it. I did it, then it opened up a new group of fans. I also recorded Christmastime Is Here on an album called Christmastime. Lee Mendelson’s wife, Debbie, said, “Lee, you should check out David Benoit.” And he and I hit it off. It was one of those magical relationships that really worked. They were trying out several other jazz musicians, Dave Grusin, Dave Brubeck, George Winston, Wynton Marsalis, and me. We just clicked. Not long after that I became the official composer, but it wasn’t official until I met Sparky. That’s what you called Mr. Schulz because that’s what he asked you to call him. But it took me a while to get used to that!
Do you ever worry you won’t be taken seriously for associating with Peanuts? - Not really. I’ll tell you what I worry more about: When I started early on getting into the business of playing jazz that was happy, it got the moniker “smooth jazz.” Now that’s become the butt of a lot of jokes, like, “If the machines broke, you couldn’t make smooth jazz.” I worry more about that than I do about doing Charlie Brown music. There seems to be a certain reverence for Vince Guaraldi—there’s a respect. You just don’t mess with it. To me, it’s very honorable. The most common compliment I get is, “Oh, you wrote the Peanuts theme” or “You wrote Linus and Lucy.” I say, “No, that would be Vince Guaraldi.” But I’m honored. It’s totally a positive thing for me.

Who is your favorite Peanuts character?- It’s Charlie Brown. However, I think Schroeder would have to be a close second! That would tell the whole story about me. I like Snoopy, but I’m not hip enough, not quite that cool.

David Benoit, was great to talk to he was very down to earth and loved what he does for a living. He is such a talented composer and pianist, Peanuts are lucky to have him.

One of Susan’s Disney Family readers will win A Charlie Brown Christmas prize pack! Prize pack will include a Peanuts goodies to enjoy! Prize pack includes, a Peanuts ornament, OPI Peanuts nail polish, and a holiday CD. Would you like to win? Please let me know what you love about the A Charlie Brown Christmas special. Do you have a favorite scene, or character? My most favorite scene is with the little Christmas tree, when they add the ornament and the tree sags, it just makes me feel for that tree! There are also other ways to enter, please enter below. 
Win it:
One winner will win A Charlie Brown Christmas prize pack!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions . I received the same pack. No monitory compensation was received. I was not required to write a positive review. Your experience may differ. The opinions I have expressed are my own I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .


72 comments:

  1. I do not have one scene that I like more than another but who doesn't love Charlie Brown.

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  2. My favorite character is Snoopy because he is so cute! I like it when he decorates his dog house for Christmas!

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  3. I love all the characters especially Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

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  4. Charlie Brown has always been ,y favorite Peanuts Character.

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  5. We love Linus and when he tells the story of what Christmas is all about

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  6. My favorite is Snoopy he is such good friend to Woodstock. He is just a lot of fun and smart.

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  7. I like when all the peanuts characters sing together at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas-

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  8. Woodstock is my favorite Peanuts character.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

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  9. Linus is my favorite character!

    Nicole Vosburgh

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  10. Linus is my favorite Peanuts character!
    timothyj228@gmail.com

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  11. Myf avorite character has always been wookstock, I had a stuffed animal of him.

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  12. Lucy has always been my favorite! I love it when she has her advice stand up and running!
    nurse_mommy(at)live(dot)com

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  13. we love sally

    freebiel0ve@yahoo.com

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  14. Love Lucy and Peppermint Patty! Linda W frogz60@hotmail.com

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  15. Is it terrible that my favorite character is Lucy? LOL

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  16. My favorite scene is when they are all singing around Charlie Brown's Christmas tree.

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  17. Snoopy is the best!! I have always loved him since I was a toddler! Thank you for the contest.

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  18. My favorite scene is when Lucy(?) is handing out play assignments, and Snoopy mocks her as she is berating everyone. It's hilarious.

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  19. I like snoopy but my favorite scene is when they tell the story of what Christmas is about to them.

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  20. Peppermint Patty

    raquelsrasmussen at gmail dot com

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  21. My favorite is Lucy, but Linus and his blanket is also a favorite!!! Been Watching Charlie Brown since my daughter was little and now I watch it with my grandson.

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  22. i really like lucy!
    caseyeve_003 at yahoo dot com

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  23. I like all of it - but mots of all that it is a reassuring, repeating part of Christmas celebrations.

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  24. I love Lucy! She is the most real of them all:)

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  25. Love Charlie Brown and Snoopy!

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  26. Woodstock. I have a musical woodstock that I've had since I was a kid :)

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  27. I love it!! As for a favorite character, I really do just love Charlie...and Snoopy! They are all great.

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  28. Charlie Brown has always been my favorite! My kids love this cartoon.

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  29. snoopy was always my fav character - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

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  30. I love Snoopy. Risingsouth at Verizon dot net

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  31. I always liked snoopy and peppermint patty.

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  32. My favorite character is snoopy.

    rtrexel@gmail.com

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  33. My favorite character is Linus.
    Julie Hawkins

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  34. Well, Snoopy is my favorite character, so my favorite scene is Snoopy's joyful dancing.

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  35. I love Charlie Brown! I always felt sorry for him!

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  36. Elizabeth miller -- snoopy and his happy dance makes us all smile over and over

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  37. I think Pigpen is my favorite as all little boys get dirty.

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  38. I love snoopy best!
    onecheaplady@yahoo.com

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  39. I love Snoopy most! He is always so funny with WoodStock!

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  40. Woodstock and Snoopy have always been my favorite.

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  41. My favorite character is Woodstock :)

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  42. My favorite scene is when Linus quotes from Luke.

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  43. My favorite character is Lucy because she always gives Charlie a hard time.

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  44. The dance sequence on the stage to "Linus & Lucy" is my favorite!

    theyyyguy@yahoo.com

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  45. My favorite scene is when Linus tells everyone what Christmas is really all about.
    Laurie Emerson
    lauraemerson17 at yahoo dot com

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  46. I have always liked Linus because I use to suck my thumb and carry a blanket too :)

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  47. My favorite thing, although it isn't a specific scene is how the parents talk.

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  48. My favorite scene is when they all go to Charlie's and make over the sad Christmas tree.

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  49. I love Woodstock, mostly because of his name ;)

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  50. Snoopy is my favorite Peanuts character.

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  51. Peppermint Patty is my favorite character.

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  52. My favorite scene is at the play when they dim the lights and Linus gives his speech about what Christmas is about.

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  53. Snoopy is my fav character because he is a dog.

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Disclosure: The reviews and or opinions on this blog are my own opinions, . No compensation was received. All opinions are my own. This is a unofficial fan site that is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or Disney theme parks.

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