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Sold out audiences flock to Las Vegas, Nevada. It's 1960 and jazz fans can't get enough of Duke Ellington and his big band. Eager to create fresh, new tunes, Duke and his best friend and collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, decide to reinvent a holiday tradition. In their own unique style, the two composers remake Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite.

It's a challenge to transform the Nutcracker Suite's romantic orchestra into jumpin' jazz melodies. Duke's band members aren't so sure that a classical ballet can become a cool-cat jazz number.

But Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infuse the composition with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz-a-tooty. The Nutcracker Suite has never been so hip. 


About the author:

Anna Harwell Celenza is a musicologist and the author of several books for adults and children regarding music history and the history of art. Anna lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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