Live Audience Only on Sunday, Dec 10, 2023 at 5:30 PM

Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's Masterpiece

The Ellington Jazz Nutcracker with CWU Jazz Band

Tchaikovsky and re-imagined through the fertile rhythms of jazz. An instant Holiday classic

Seen Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker?" See What Ellington (and the CWU Jazz Band) Are Doing With It!

Opened by local High School Jazz Band all-stars

Date: Sunday, Dec 10, 2023

Time: 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Doors open at: 4:00 PM


General Admission: $20

VIP Table for 2: $60

VIP Table for 4: $120

Student tickets available: $5 with current student ID

This show is available to all ages.

The Lincoln Center Jazz Band Plays the Overture. You'll recognize the familiar theme from Tchaikovsky behind it

Doors Open at 5:30 PM — or join us even earlier in the Gallery/Bistro (Enter off Sgt Pendleton Way) for a special Christmas/ Holiday Dinner

It's a Holiday Early Evening show for families and students of all ages to hear the great Tchaikovsky "Nutcracker Suite" as transformed in 1960 by Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn into an American Big Band jazz masterpiece. It's performed by one of the best college jazz bands in the country: the Central Washington University Jazz Band under the direction of the new CWU Professor of Jazz Studies, Keith Karns.

As an added treat, Local High School Jazz Bands with their directors will open the program with a selection of their best work.

A modern classic, The Jazz Nutcracker is filled with energy, intelligence, swing, and all the innovation and improvisation of the Jazz Age. Each of its songs takes off from one of the beloved originals from Tchaikovsky's beloved Holiday Classic, and while the source is recognizable, each is transformed and magnified into a snappy, humorous, high-energy platform for musical fun and improvisation — big band style.

How did this piece of music come about? A composition that started to bring Billy Strayhorn, Ellington's long-time compositional partner, into focus? Read the interesting backstory HERE

More about the CWU Jazz Band

The Central Washington Jazz Band has become recognized as one of the best jazz bands in the country. They have played at the Monterrey Jazz Festival and won awards at most of the major competitions in which they have participated. It's an ideal time for local high school and middle school musicians and their families to meet the next generation of great players from Central Washington

A Rich History

Did you know that many prominent jazz musicians and educators had their start at Central? This is all part of a rich legacy that stretches back to 1947 and the Sweecians dance band, directed by Bert Christiansen and later Bob “Beep” Panerio and John Moawad, the creation of the vocal jazz ensemble by John Moawad in the 70s and high expectations along the way. Here is a sampling of just a few of them: Gary Hobbs, Jon Wikan, Norm Wallen, Greg Metcalf, Kelly Kunz, Dave Barduhn, Frank Dimiero, Bruce Babad, Reuel Lubag, Michelle Wier, Jim Sisko, Garey Williams, Paul Gabrielson, Jay Roulston, Jake Bergevin & Paul Harshman.