Press Release • November 2, 2022


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, December 4 at 2pm and 7pm at World Café Live. 

For the first set, The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia, under the direction of POPS Artistic Director for Jazz Terell Stafford, will present Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s The Harlem Nutcracker

Released in 1960, Ellington and Strayhorn’s The Harlem Nutcracker infused 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 set is 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 artists 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. 

Performance repertoire: 

Set 1 

The Harlem Nutcracker Suite 

  • 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) 

Set 2 

Passion dance 
Blues on the Corner 
Fly with the Wind 
You Taught My Heart to Sing 
Man from Tanganikya 
Mode to John 

About Terell Stafford 

Terell Stafford, acclaimed trumpet player based in New York, has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Stafford is recognized as an incredibly gifted and versatile player; he combines a deep love of melody with his own brand of spirited and adventurous lyricism. Stafford’s exceptionally expressive and well-defined musical talent allows him to dance in and around the rich trumpet tradition of his predecessors while making his own inroads. 

Since the mid-1990s, Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson’s Sextet, McCoy Tyner’s Sextet, Kenny Barron Quintet, Frank Wess Quintet, Jimmy Heath Quintet and Big Band, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Alumni Band. Stafford, with the Hamilton- Clayton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY-nominated album From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet and Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and they were awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard. Stafford can be heard on over 130 albums including his own, BrotherLee Love, Celebrating Lee Morgan, which received a 47th Annual NAACP Image Award nomination. His most recent album, Family Feeling, is a BCM&D release. 

Stafford is the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University, founder and band leader of the Terell Stafford Quintet, Artistic Director for Jazz for The Philly POPS, and Managing and Artistic Director of The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia (JOP). Stafford is renowned in the jazz world as an educator, performer, and leader and has received countless award nominations and accolades. 

Terell Stafford was born in Miami and raised in Chicago, Illinois and Silver Spring, Maryland. He received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Maryland in 1988 and a Masters of Music from Rutgers University in 1993. 

About Bruce Barth 

Jazz pianist and composer Bruce Barth has been sharing his music with listeners the world over for more than thirty years.  In addition to traveling widely performing his own music, he has also performed with revered jazz masters, and has collaborated with leading musicians of his own generation.  Zan Stewart of the Newark Star-Ledger writes: “No one sounds quite like Barth. His solos are characterized by robust swing, his ability to tell a story, and by his rich, beguiling sound.” 

Bruce has performed on over 135 recordings and movie soundtracks, including fifteen as a leader.  He is equally at home playing solo piano (American Landscape on Satchmo Jazz Records), leading an all-star septet (East and West on MaxJazz), and composing for a variety of ensembles.  His trio has recorded live at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York City.  

Originally from Pasadena, California, Bruce arrived on the New York jazz scene in 1988, and soon started working in the bands of Stanley Turrentine and Terence Blanchard.  Bruce’s first two CD’s as a leader, In Focus and Morning Call, were chosen for the New York Times’ top ten lists.  These recordings displayed not only his powerfully fluent piano playing, but also the scope of his own compositions and his imaginative arrangements of jazz standards.  

As a leader of his trio and larger ensembles, Bruce has performed at major venues in the United States, Europe, and Japan; he has led bands at many major venues in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and major festivals in UK, Spain, Sweden, and Portugal. 

Bruce has been a member of the Terell Stafford Quartet for more than fifteen years, recording and performing extensively with this dynamic group.  He has also had extended collaborations with Steve Wilson, Luciana Souza, Steve Nelson, and Tony Bennett;  and has performed with James Moody, Phil Woods, Freddie Hubbard, Karrin Allyson, Tom Harrell, Carla Cook, Rene Marie, Branford Marsalis, Art Farmer, Audrey Silver, Adam Kolker,  and Luis Bonilla. 

His new trio recording, “Dedication,” due in fall of 2022 on Origin Records, features a program of all original compositions.  Several are dedicated to musicians and to important people in Bruce’s life.  

Finally, Bruce is a dedicated teacher.  He has been on the faculty of Temple University for more than twenty-five years, and has penned original compositions and arrangements for the faculty sextet and student groups. He also teaches at Columbia University, and has  given master classes around the globe. 

About Cyrus Chestnut 

Born in 1963, Chestnut started his musical career at the age of three, playing piano at the Mount Calvary Star Baptist Church at the age of six in his hometown of Baltimore, MD. By age nine, he was studying classical music at the Peabody Preparatory Institute in Baltimore. In the fall of 1981, Cyrus began jazz education in Boston, MA at the Berklee College of Music. In 1985, he earned a degree in jazz composition and arranging. While at Berklee, Chestnut was awarded the Eubie Blake Fellowship, the Oscar Peterson, Quincy Jones, and Count Basie awards for exceptional performance standards at the college. After Berklee, Cyrus began further honing his craft as a sideman with some of the legendary and leading musicians in the business. Some of these great people include; Jon Hendricks, Michael Carvin, Donald Harrison, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Regina Cater, Chick Corea, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Joe Williams, Isaac Hayes, Kathleen Battle, Betty Carter, and Dizzy Gillespie just to name a few. His association with Betty Carter, which began in 1991 significantly affected his outlook and approach to music, confirming his already iconoclastic instincts. Carter advised him to “take chances” and play things I’ve never heard,” Chestnut says. 

As Cyrus was absorbing experiences as a sideman, he was also developing as a leader, recording and playing live around the world. There’s a Brighter Day Coming was his first self-released album, followed by The Nutman Speaks (1992), The Nutman Speaks Again (1992), Another Direction (1993). The records received the prestigious Gold Disk award from Japan’s leading jazz publication, Swing Journal. 

About The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia 

The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia is an 18–piece ensemble dedicated to the presentation and exploration of America’s Art Form: jazz. 

Under the direction of Artistic Director for Jazz, Terell Stafford, The Philly POPS Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia features an orchestra of accomplished Philadelphia jazz artists alongside some of the most prominent contemporary jazz musicians and luminaries. 

About The Philly POPS  
The Philly POPS, the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, delights audiences with the inspired performance of American popular music. The POPS celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through an expanding repertoire of innovative concert performances and a robust set of educational and engagement initiatives.  

As the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia’s partner in civic celebration, The Philly POPS serves a consistently growing audience of over 900,000 annually. Music Director and Principal Conductor David Charles Abell and the Philly POPS orchestra keep listeners tapping their toes to an impressive repertoire of songs from American traditional music up through to today’s chart-toppers.   
In addition to Subscription Series performances at The Kimmel Cultural Campus, The Philly POPS presents innovative programming with contemporary artists at the Met Philadelphia in The Philly POPS at the Met Philadelphia series.  

 Outside the concert hall, free Salute Series performances – including Memorial Salute, July 3 POPS on Independence, July 4 POPS on the Parkway and the I’ll Be Home for Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders concert – celebrate the American tradition of service around important national holidays. POPS in Schools enhances music education for 3,000 Philadelphia School District students; and POPS Outside brings POPS music to local communities. The Philly POPS performs as a founding resident company of The Kimmel Cultural Campus, as the Principal Orchestra of the Met Philadelphia, and at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region.