If you’ve never heard Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, count yourself lucky.
Because you still get to hear it for the first time.
It’s a truly timeless classic that takes Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, and reworks it with Ellington’s own rhapsodic genius to create something totally unforgettable. Spotify it and see.
And there isn’t really a better band in London to play their own version of it than Kansas Smitty’s – the ensemble was founded back in 2012 by Jack Abraham and Giacomo Smith literally in order to play Duke Ellington’s music. Since then, they’ve gone from strength to strength, appearing in festivals, on the BBC, and evolving – during the pandemic, of all times – to become a big band. So as the festive period approaches, it seems only natural that they should perform Ellington’s Nutcracker next.
Last year’s performance at Ronnie Scott’s was such a hit that they’ve expanded this year to take over the Fireworks Factory in Woolwich. It’s a sprawling, warehouse-style space that’s been recently unveiled as a performance venue as part of the whole overhaul of the old Woolwich Arsenal site (think the Roundhouse, but less… round). You’ll take in the soaring industrial arches and brickwork, drenched in light and colour, before taking your seat – either in the classic rows at the sides, or at one of the cabaret tables surrounding the stage.
The Kansas Smitty’s musicians will set up as a fifteen piece big band, and play out the entirety of the album, from the playful take on the Dance of the Reed Pipes (“Toot Toot Tootie Toot”), through to their laid back version of the Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy (“Sugar Rum Cherry”). After that, you can expect the evening to be rounded out with a few of the Duke’s other masterpieces.
Ironically, you’re pretty much guaranteed not to get the blues.
NOTE: Kansas Smitty’s Big Band presents Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker will take place at the Fireworks Factory at Woolwich Works on Friday 2nd December 2022. You can get your tickets (£26.50) and find out more right HERE.
The Fireworks Factory | 11 No 1 St, Royal Arsenal, London SE18 6HD
Looking for more festive fun? Check out these London winter light trails…