Chineke! Orchestra Puts A Vibrant New Ellington/Strayhorn Spin On Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’

Chineke! Orchestra, the ground-breaking ensemble renowned for pushing the boundaries in classical music, has announced the release of a rhythmically compelling rendition of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite, set for release on October 27, 2023 via Chineke! Records/Decca Records.

The recording is a lively reinterpretation that takes the beloved themes from Tchaikovsky’s 1892 festive ballet and infuses them with a vibrant jazz twist, uniquely arranged by jazz legends Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn during the 1960s.

With only a handful existing recordings of Ellington and Strayhorn’s adaptation, this album marks the first ever recording of Jeff Tzyik’s orchestration. In 1960, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn teamed up to give Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite a creative twist, marking their first equal billing since their 1938 collaboration. The arrangement, described as “melting pot of musical styles past and present” by The New York Times, exemplified Ellington and Strayhorn boundary-pushing spirit and their strong partnership. Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE, Founder and Artistic Director of the Chineke! Foundation explains “Chineke! exists to redress the balance of who plays and does not play classical music.” and this album promises to reignite the spirit of Ellington and Strayhorn’s jazz-infused interpretation of the The Nutcracker Suite, offering an exclusive perspective on a timeless classic.