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Three Suites

4.8 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 5, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

In this master adaptation, Duke puts his famous jazzy touch on classics by Tchaikovsky ( Nutcracker Suite ), Grieg ( Peer Gynt Suites ) and John Steinbeck's engaging novel, Sweet Thursday , with his original composition of Zweet Zurzday . Also includes Toot Toot Tootie Toot (Dance of the Red-Pipes); Sugar-Rum Cherry (Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy); In the Hall of the Mountain King; Arabesque Cookie (Arabian Dance); Morning Mood; Anitra's Dance , and much more!
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 5, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: February 5, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: SBME SPECIAL MKTS.
  • Run Time: 65 minutes
  • ASIN: B0012GMWB6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,122 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Giuseppe C. HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As gratifying as it is to see Duke Ellington receiving his due (and I recall many arguments with musicians back in the 70s about Ellington's being a "sloppy," "inferior" band compared to Kenton, Maynard, Basie), it appears that many listeners still don't "get it" when it comes to jazz' greatest Maestro. I notice that the top 8 best-selling Ellington albums are collections of his piano playing or "greatest hits" (Satin Doll, A Train, etc.). But Ellington's genius is best appreciated in his orchestral compositions, his balancing of the composer's intentions with his band members' inventions, and his ability to write for the performer of the instrument, not merely the instrument itself.
Take one brief movement of The Nutcracker Suite--the "Entr'act." Listen to it several times, and then just simply marvel. We hear the composer's orchestral textures, we hear the colorful voices of no less than 4 different soloists, we hear nuanced dynamics, and finally we experience a collaborative celebration as much a product of the individual parts as their sum meaning. And all of this occurs in approximately 60 seconds! Now compare what you've just heard to the formulaic, 3-section, 2-dimensional dyanamics that characterize virtually any other big band.
This collection is not only indispensable but an unbeatable value. The order of the 3 suites--Nutcracker, Peer Gynt, Suite Thursday--probably reflects their order of artistic merit. What's unfortunate about this edition is that consumers searching for Ellington's "Nutcracker" may not locate it due to the unlikely title, "Three Suites." But make no mistake about it. This Nutcracker is no novelty project, no mere "jazzing up" of the classics.
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Format: Audio CD
Every year after Thanksgiving, this is one of the very first Christmas albums I play to put me in the spirit. (This year it went on second only to Johnny Mathis.) His "Nutcracker Suite" is NOT just some "jazzin' the classics" campy fun: a theme, some swinging solos, return to theme, and out. No, nothing of the kind. Ellington & Strayhorn carefully imagined these sophisticated arrangements that remain quite faithful to Tchaikovsky's music, but they bring out the most evocative, new colors and rhythms in the music so you feel just like you're hearing the originals in a whole new light.

The five samples Amazon currently provides will give a good flavor of what's happening--"Sugar Rum Cherry" is a particular favorite--but I think the program really peaks with the last few pieces of the suite. "Arabesque Cookie" and "Chinoiserie" are truly sublime.
The "Peer Gynt" and "Suite Thursday" sections may be of less interest--but, honestly, who cares? You're going to get this, and love it, because of "The Nutcracker Suite." Those nine tracks by themselves are worth every penny. I hope that someday soon Sony will redesign the cover and print THE NUTCRACKER prominently on the front, so that more holiday shoppers will be drawn to the disc. Not only is this "Nutcracker" one of my most favorite holiday recordings, but I think it's one of the best things Ellington & Strayhorn ever did. I wish everyone could hear it.
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Format: Audio CD
This is an astonishingly beautiful collection. What Ellington does with Tchaikovsky and Grieg is truly a work of genius. An understated effort; this album is so fluidly listenable, that it requires repeated listening to fully appreciate the subtleties of these very sophisticated arrangements. But as complex as the Duke's harmonic approach is, the real star of this show is the beauty of the music itself. Anyone with an appreciation for the music of Ellington cannot go wrong with this swinging, jazzy, georgeous album.
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Format: Audio CD
I first purchased this CD about 5 years ago and it's been a favorite ever since.
As a classical musician married to a jazz musician I was really curious about what Duke Ellington would do with the Nutcracker Suite.
All I can say is that it's absolutely fabulous and wonderful! We need to see the ABT dance to this version someday!
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By A Customer on December 16, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This a no brainer. Do you really need to read a review of this cd? Stop a second and put on your thinking cap. Duke Ellington plays Tchaikovsky. I play this cd at my Christmas party every year and you should see my guests groove out to this. It's amazing how swinging and sexy the Nutcracker Suite can sound. "Sugar Rum Cherry" (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) sounds like strip tease music. I was down to my boxer shorts before my mother walked into the living room. The other 2 suites aren't as festive sounding but I still play them at my Kwanza party. In fact I play this cd long after the holidays have passed. A real gem!
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Format: Audio CD
that this was the very first CD I ever bought. I don't know what sort of musical or historical relevance this material originally had... but to me, it opened my ears to the brilliance of Duke Ellington, amazed me at its depth and its humor, and has remained in my CD collection as one of my treasures. Without it I'd have been a much deprived musical listener. (I also have the same affection for Duke's Far East Suite).
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