POTTSTOWN PA – A 17-piece jazz orchestra promises to take listeners on a holiday journey, transporting them back to Big Band Era, during a mid-December concert in Pottstown.
The Swinging Jazz Nutcracker Suite, with music arranged and imagined by Milton “Shorty” Rogers and legendary composer Duke Ellington, will be performed Friday (Dec. 15, 2023) at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) by maestro Marko Marcinko and the All-Star Montco Big Band (at top) in the Sunnybrook Ballroom at SoulJoel’s at SunnyBrook, 50 Sunnybrook Rd.
Tickets are now available online. The show is suitable for all ages, and a student discount is offered. Free parking is available.
- The performance is being presented by SunnyBrook Ballroom, The PA Jazz Alliance, and The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board;
- It includes what organizers call a “clever, insightful story narration by state Rep. Joe Ciresi, and feature(s) vocalist Amy Banks;” and
- The show also doubles as a toy drive; those who attend are asked to consider bringing an unwrapped toy for donation to the holiday project of the Helping Hands Community Outreach Program.
The story behind the suite
Here’s how the tourism and convention board website describes what’s to come:
“What do Peter Tchaikovsky, Shorty Rogers, and Duke Ellington have in common? Well, they are all innovators, composers and arrangers. You will hear the incredible melodies of Tchaikovsky re-imagined by two great jazz master composers, arrangers Shorty Rogers and Duke.”
“It was May 1960 when both Shorty Rogers and Duke Ellington were hard at work creating jazz big band arrangements of this iconic ballet music. Interestingly, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn began recording their version of the Nutcracker on the very day (May 26, 1960) Shorty Rogers finished his project.”
“Both were only minutes from one another while recording these masterpieces: Duke at Radio Recorders in West Hollywood CA, and Shorty at RCA Victor’s Music Center in Los Angeles.”
“Whether or not these two major record labels caught wind of the other’s project and spurred their top jazz talent to come up with a competing version, and whose was finished first, is a matter of conjecture. However, we now have some amazing jazz versions of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Waltz of The Flowers, The Arabian Dance, and The Tea Dance, to name a few.”
Photo from The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board