Portland Jazz Orchestra performs Duke Ellington’s arrangement of The Nutcracker

December 21 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Franco Center

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The Portland Jazz Orchestra presents a unique and innovative Christmas show this season. Along with jazz arrangements of familiar holiday classics that really swing, the PJO will perform Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite,” based on Tchaikovsky’s holiday masterwork. While containing many familiar melodies from the original, Ellington’s version uses inventive instrumentation to exploit the wide range of colors available within a standard big band for a truly unique and oftentimes tongue-in-cheek interpretation. Tickets are $15.

Started in 2004, the Portland Jazz Orchestra is Maine’s premier concert jazz ensemble. Under the direction of Dr. Chris Oberholtzer, this 18-piece jazz ensemble performs a variety of traditional and contemporary big band literature. The PJO enjoys playing works written by members such as Craig Skeffington, Willie Johnson, Chris Humphrey and Terry White in addition to literature composed by a variety of jazz artists including Tom Kubis, Matt Harris, Bob Mintzer, Bill Holman and Maria Schneider. The PJO also enjoys playing classic works from the big band libraries of Count Basie, Woody Herman and Stan Kenton.

The PJO is made up of professional musicians, many of whom are both performers and educators in New England. Members of the PJO have performed, recorded and toured with numerous artists including: Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett, Bob Mintzer, Barry Manilow, Roberta Flack, the Temptations, the Artie Shaw Orchestra and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

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