Jazz I will play Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” at the Saint Louis Art Museum on Dec. 13, with the high school orchestra. This will not be the first time that Jazz I has had a Christmas performance.
There are two different groups of jazz bands. Students can try out for Jazz I, and the students who don’t make Jazz I or do not try out are put in Jazz II.
According to Kevin Cole, director of Jazz I and Jazz II, a Christmas performance “isn’t an every year thing.” This will be the second time that Jazz I has played the nine-song piece that is Duke Ellington’s 1960 jazz version of songs from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”
The Jazz II bands will not play at the Art Museum because they are less experienced. Jazz I and the Orchestra may also play in the auditorium and the Kirkwood Brewery Station.
The orchestra will play the original version of Tchaikovsky but won’t play any of its original Tchaikovsky tunes with Jazz I and will not play any of the Ellington versions of the songs.
Jazz I will play “Toot Toot Tootie Toot,” “Peanut Brittle Brigade,” ” Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy)” and other Ellington remakes of the classical songs that are performed in the nutcracker musical masterpiece.
Cole said Jazz I will practice the songs all November getting ready for its second big performance of the year after its performance at the Webster Groves Jazz Fest.
About if it was going to be more challenging in comparison to the other songs that jazz band has played this year, Cole said, “Yes, I think so. What’s challenging isn’t the speed or volume of the song… it’s the style.”
Max Yusen, freshman alto saxophonist for Jazz I, said some people will play more than one instrument.
Cole said, “Jazz I hasn’t learned this style yet. It will be challenging because it isn’t something that the kids are used to. This music isn’t the kind of music on the radio.”