Mr Sun records and performs a new interpretation of Ellington’s legendary Nutcracker Suite.
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite contains some of the most beloved and familiar melodies in the Western world.
Mr Sun has seized upon the inspiration of Duke Ellington’s brilliant, sly, & urbane re-interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Suite as an opportunity to salute and re-invent this wildly multi-faceted work anew through the lens of the American String Band, a musical form which contains myriad styles and is presently engaged in a marathon upheaval of innovation and expansion.
On Mr Sun’s new recording, the pieces of the Suite range from close interpretations of Billy Strayhorn’s original charts to intense extrapolations based on the spirit of the material.
On the recording, Mr Sun generally played original improvised solos, though some crucial musical statements by giants such as Johnny Hodges and Paul Gonsalves were transcribed directly and played in their spirit. Most of Strayhorn’s startling original horn voicings have been preserved in bowed strings, with multi-mandolin parts adding a punchy edge.
There is one new additional piece, drawn directly from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet, setting three themes in classic “Dawg Music” format. The Russian Dance is now hilariously full-on Bluegrass with banjo guest Alison Brown while still using the spy-movie intros, outros, and background lines of Strayhorn’s original. Dobro King Jerry Douglas interprets an iconic Lawrence Brown trombone solo on Dance Of The Floreadores, now re-titled “(don’t) Walk On The Flowers”.