When Brent Wallarab, the artistic director of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, talks about performing Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's jazz interpretation of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet, you can hear the passion in his voice. The third performance of Ellington's swinging rendition of The Nutcracker by the BWJO is more than Ellington's and Strayhorn's adaptation or re-arranging of the work's themes. This is a brand new composition based on the themes of Tchaikovsky, according to Wallarab. Legendary jazz tenor saxophonist and composer Benny Golson will bring his quartet to the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center on the University of Indianapolis' campus Friday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Wallarab has performed and studied the Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Suite for years, but he is still enamoured with this work. "One of the gratifying things of Ellington, and therefore one of the gratifying things of all great art, is that you never quit being surprised by it or quit learning by it. I know this music inside and out and I am still finding new things. I am still tickled because there are clever little musical jokes here and there. Ellington's Nutcracker is so accessible, you can enjoy it on the surface. It makes your foot tap, it makes you smile and it touches your soul. This is craftsmanship on the highest level; an audience can enjoy the music without necessarily know what's going on." One half of the concert will be given over to fresh new arrangements from Wallarab of popular holiday favorites like "Let it Snow," "What
Are You Doing New Year's Eve" and "The Christmas Song."
Wallarab offered this challenge to classical music lovers: "I would invite the Indianapolis classical music fan to come to this concert - even if they don't like jazz - to come hear this Ellington/Strayhorn version. I guarantee they will find it satisfying, challenging and ultimately a great artistic experience. Especially for those classical music fans who know the original, this is such a great way to contrast, to hear a new version of it."
This monumental classic will be performed at the Indiana History Center Theater, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 5. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee as well as 7 p.m. performances both days. Wallarab and Buselli will give informal talks before the evening program at 6:15 p.m. Tickets for the evening performances are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Matinee prices are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. For tickets call the BWJO ticket line at 317-464-5388.
On Dec. 5, I will be broadcasting WTPI's Sunday Morning Jazz Show live from the magnificent Bella Vita Restaurante at 11699 Fall Creek Road in Geist Marina. Sunday brunch will run from 10:30 to 2, with live jazz at noon. It's a "Holiday Jazz Brunch," complete with prize gift baskets and wine samplings, sponsored by Woodbridge Wines. The broadcast on WTPI 107.9 is from 8 a.m. until noon. It's a laid-back way to enrich your holiday mood.
Legendary jazz tenor saxophonist and composer Benny Golson will bring his quartet to the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center on the University of Indianapolis' campus Friday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Chatterbox, 435 Massachusetts Ave. Friday, swinging vocals by Mary Moss & Friends. Saturday, Kevin Kouts Group featuring Paul Holdman's guitar. 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., cover charge $4.
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, 45 S. Illinois St. "Sizzling Steaks & Jazz Sunday" with Bill Lancton Trio, 7 to 10 p.m.
Jazz Kitchen, 54th Street and College Avenue. Friday, guitarist Charlie Smith. Saturday, Seven Pleasures. Sets 8:30 and 10:30 p.m., cover charge.
Sullivan's Steakhouse, 3316 E. 86th St., Keystone at the Crossing. Friday, Steve Corn, piano, Joe Deal, bass. Saturday, Claude Sifferlen, piano, Joe Deal, bass. 5 to 11 p.m.
Midtown Grill, 815 E. Westfield Blvd. Friday and Saturday, Dave Hepler, solo piano, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Sangiovese Restaurant, 4110 E. 82nd St. Tuesday, Dave Lowe, vocals and keyboards, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Brenda Williams, vocals, David Meeks, piano, John Huber, bass. Thursday, Shannon Forsell, vocals, Ray Larman, piano. Friday, David Meeks, solo piano, 7 to 10 p.m.
Smokehouse Cafe, County Line Road and Meridian Street. "Sunday Jazz Brunch," The Impulse Trio, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, "Tommy Will's Twosome," jazz for dining and dancing, 7 to 10 p.m.
Chuck Workman is the producer/host of the Sunday Morning Jazz Show at 107.9 WTPI.