'A Charlie Brown Christmas' drummer Jerry Granelli needs help after health crisis, son says

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'A Charlie Brown Christmas' drummer Jerry Granelli needs help after health crisis, son says
Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:May 20, 2021 • 19 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
Jazz drummer Jerry Granelli sits in his studio in Halifax on Dec. 21, 2010.
Jazz drummer Jerry Granelli sits in his studio in Halifax on Dec. 21, 2010. PHOTO BY ANDREW VAUGHAN /THE CANADIAN PRESS
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To his adult children, Jerry Granelli is just dad, and at 80 needs help recovering at home after months in a Halifax hospital.

To the rest of the world, famed drummer/composer Jerry Granelli is a jazz legend and beloved mentor to thousands of students, artists, seekers and creatives.


The last surviving member of The Vince Guaraldi Trio, Granelli is also known as the drummer on the now-classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, the internationally beloved jazz treasure for children of all ages. It includes the joyful “Linus and Lucy” theme and has been a Christmas staple since the animated TV special first aired in 1965.

Paid just $120 for the session in 1965, Granelli neither gets royalties from the annual re-broadcast nor from the soundtrack that has sold millions of copies.

The avant-garde drummer — and well-known Buddhist — has had a health crisis that began in December with internal bleeding.

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A Nova Scotia resident for many years, the San Francisco-born Granelli was rushed to hospital in Halifax where he was months in the ICU and another 45 days in care.

The doctors weren’t sure he’d ever leave hospital, but you can’t keep a good musician down.

Granelli is now at home recovering. And he needs help to cover the cost of home care, special feeding and physical therapy.

His son, musician J. Anthony Granelli, has begun a GoFundMe campaign, which as of Thursday afternoon has raised more than $34,000.

(None of Granelli’s children live in Canada and they cannot cross the border during COVID.)

Jazz performer Jerry Granelli is seen in a photo on a GoFundMe campaign.
Jazz performer Jerry Granelli is seen in a photo on a GoFundMe campaign. PHOTO BY HANDOUT /GoFundMe
Here is what his son writes about Granelli on the GoFundMe page:

“Jerry has spent his life dedicated to the art of improvisation, helping young musicians see the connection between life and the art they create and the ordinary magic of living a spontaneous life. A longtime practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Jerry has been an important proponent for people in all walks of life of meditation practice and living one’s life awakened and fearlessly.

“To have met him is to have been touched and inspired by him, musically, personally and spiritually. Please help us return some of that healing energy back to him.”

The son of a drummer, Granelli was a prodigy who was only eight when he spent a day with Gene Krupa — he wasn’t much older than that when Joe Morello (Dave Brubeck Quartet) took him under his wing. He had paid gigs by the age of 17 and was on the road at 21, joining the Vince Guaraldi Trio upon his return to San Francisco.

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Being part of the artist collective Light Sound Dimension won him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a pioneer of the psychedelic scene, and by 1971, while in Europe with the Grateful Dead, Granelli has said he began to feel more like an artist than a musician.


Over a 60-year career, Granelli has recorded 30 albums and played with just about everyone you can name, from Mose Allison and Ornette Coleman to Sly Stone and the Kingston Trio. He has been recognized by the Grammy Awards, the Junos and the National Library of Congress Sound Archives.

In Nova Scotia, Granelli helped establish the Halifax Jazz Festival and is creative director of the Creative Music Workshop, an intensive summer education program that’s been part of the jazz festival for 21 years.

A Canadian since 1999, Granelli was honoured in 2016 with the Portia White Prize, an important award that recognizes cultural and artistic excellence on the part of a Nova Scotian artist who has achieved professional status and recognition in their discipline.

lbraun@postmedia.com
 

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Jazz great Jerry Granelli dead at 80
Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:Jul 21, 2021 • 13 hours ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Canadian jazz drummer Jerry Granelli has died at the age of 80 in Halifax.
Canadian jazz drummer Jerry Granelli has died at the age of 80 in Halifax. PHOTO BY J. ANTHONY GRANELLI /GoFundMe
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Jazz drummer Jerry Granelli, widely known for his work on ACharlie Brown Christmas soundtrack, has died in Halifax.

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Granelli, 80, died at home on Tuesday. He was hospitalized for many weeks earlier this year with a serious case of internal bleeding but had worked hard to recover, and was back home making plans — he even hosted a workshop just three days ago at the Halifax Jazz Festival.


A post on Granelli’s Facebook page said his plans included recording again, producing a play about his life, touring Canada and Europe, “and of course he was looking forward to performing Tales of a Charlie Brown Christmas this coming December in Halifax.”

The jazz legend was a respected member of the Nova Scotia Buddhist community. Granelli was a beloved teacher and mentor to thousands of students, artists, seekers and creatives.


His musical career spans 60 years and at least 30 albums; he was the last surviving member of The Vince Guaraldi Trio and played with innumerable other artists — from Mose Allison and Ornette Coleman to Sly Stone and the Kingston Trio. He has been recognized by the Grammy Awards, the Junos and the National Library of Congress Sound Archives.

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Granelli was known as the drummer on the now-classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, the internationally beloved jazz treasure for children of all ages. It includes the joyful “Linus and Lucy” theme and has been a Christmas staple since the animated TV special first aired in 1965.

In Nova Scotia, Granelli helped establish the Halifax Jazz Festival and is creative director of the Creative Music Workshop, an intensive summer education program that’s been part of the jazz festival for 21 years.

Granelli was born in San Francisco and became a Canadian in 1999. He was the recipient of the Portia White Prize in 2016; the award recognizes cultural and artistic excellence on the part of a Nova Scotian artist.

Haia Wellness chief Michael Bruggeman posted a note from activist Meg Wheatley (Warriors For The Human Spirit), on Granelli’s Facebook page. Wheatley wrote, “At the physical level, his heart stopped.

“At the spiritual level, I believe his spirit left the body because of his level of spiritual attainment.”