Duke Ellington and longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn pursued a wide variety of fascinating projects after Ellington Orchestra’s success at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival with which they continued to elevate their status and the status of jazz at large. Among the most overlooked of these are their full-length variations of symphonic works, the first of which came in 1960, when both took turns in reinventing movements from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite through the lens of jazz. The result glows with the creative brilliance, amazing musicianship, good humor and elegance that the bandleader was renowned for. Ellington’s own reinvention of the Suite‘s March as “Peanut Brittle Brigade” is positively swinging.
Like this article? Get more when you subscribe.