Swing into the holidays with Philly Pops Jazz Orchestra's Harlem Nutcracker  

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Get ready to swing into the season with the sounds of an annual holiday classic that will surely get you in the spirit.

The Philly POPs Jazz Orchestra is presenting the Harlem Nutcracker at the Annenberg Center.

"It was written by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. It's based off Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker," says Terell Stafford, Conductor and Artistic Director of Jazz for the Philly Pops.

And just like the 1960's album, the Penn Live Arts show will feature all the favorites from the ballet score plus a whole lot of spirit.

"You hear the overture, you'll hear Sugar Rum Cherry, you'll hear Volga Vouty," says Stafford.

"It's all jazz, and it's swinging. It's a lot of fun," says Stafford, "I don't think Nutcracker has been played live on a stage in probably two years."

It's a holiday tradition that was put on hold because of the pandemic.

"It was really difficult. So, coming together now is extremely celebratory," Stafford says.

The show will also celebrate jazz legend Charlie Parker.

"Who is the one who originated Bebop," tells Stafford.

Three top saxophone players will join the band.

"It's Dick Oatts, Jaleel Shaw, then the legendary Charles McPherson," says Stafford.

Stafford is also an accomplished trumpet player.

"I got a gig with a guy named Bobby Watson and that was the beginning of my jazz career," says Stafford.

He's been teaching at Temple for the past 25 years.

"I'm director of Jazz Studies and Chair of instrumental Studies," says Stafford.

And he spearheaded The Jazz Orchestra of Philadelphia which merged with Philly Pops.

"The Philly Pops brought us into their family," Stafford says.

As he imparts the pearls of wisdom he learned from some of the great music masters.

"It's about togetherness. And to bring joy around this time of year," says Stafford.

The Harlem Nutcracker will be playing Dec. 18 at the Zellerbach Theatre in University City.
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Penn Live Arts, Zellerbach Theatre
Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
December 18th, 2021
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