Event Details
Special Events
December 4, 2022
World Cafe Live
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The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia returns to the stage with its annual holiday tradition—The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia’s The Harlem Nutcracker. Legendary jazz innovators Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn famously premiered the suite in 1960. 

The Harlem Nutcracker infuses the music of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite with vivacious, jazzy energy, featuring song names like “Peanut Brittle Brigade” (based on the “March”) and “Sugar Rum Cherry” (based on the “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy”). The suite shows off Ellington and Strayhorn’s versatility as composers and arrangers—with the pieces covering a wide range of musical sounds, emotions and locales. This is the JOP’s eighth presentation of the The Harlem Nutcracker, a tradition started to honor the great jazz saxophonist, Jimmy Heath. 

The second half of the program presents The Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia’s pandemic-delayed tribute to Philadelphia native and jazz piano legend McCoy Tyner who passed away in 2020. The set will highlight eight of Tyner’s incredible jazz compositions and will feature guest pianists Bruce Barth and Cyrus Chestnut.  

“The Harlem Nutcracker is an important tradition for The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, and for me as well,” said Artistic Director for Jazz Terell Stafford. “It takes all of those holiday Nutcracker favorites and makes them swing—each in their own interesting way. I’m glad to welcome guest artists Bruce Barth and Cyrus Chestnut on the piano for our tribute to the late great McCoy Tyner. It is sure to be a night of fantastic music and great musicians.” 

This year’s Harlem Nutcracker rendition will be performed in an intimate setting at World Café Live.  The program continues JOP’s ongoing exploration of local jazz history and its luminaries by honoring Philadelphia jazz musicians Jimmy Heath and McCoy Tyner.  

  • Harlem Nutcracker Suite comp. Tchaikovsky arr. Ellington, Strayhorn

    • Overture
    • Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Dance of the Reed-Pipes)
    • Peanut Brittle Brigade (March)
    • Sugar Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy) 
    • Entr’acte
    • Volga Vouty (Russian Dance)
    • Chinoiserie (Chinese Dance)
    • Danse of the Floreadores (Waltz of the Flowers)
    • Arabesque Cookie (Arabian Dance)

    Tribute to McCoy Tyner

    • Passion Dance – Arr. Dennis Mackrel 
    • Blue on the Corner – Arr. Dennis Mackrel 
    • Update – Arr. Dennis Mackrel 
    • Naima – Arr. Jack Saint Clair 
    • Fly With the Wind – Arr. Danny Jonokuchi 
    • You Taught My Heart to Sing – Arr. Jack Saint Clair 
    • Man from Tanganikya – Arr. Bill Cunliffe 
    • Mode to John – Arr. Bill Cunliffe