In March of 2023, Darol Anger, Joe K. Walsh, Grant Gordy, and Aidan O’Donnell went into the recording studio to transmogrify the legendary Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Suite into the acoustic string band as Mr Sun. Their studio of choice, in North Adams, Massachusetts, was a state-of-the art recording facility built by the Mass/MOCA Art Museum.
Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite contains some of the most beloved and familiar melodies in the Western world. Mr Sun has seized upon the inspiration of Duke Ellington’s brilliant, sly, and urbane re-interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Suite as an opportunity to salute and re-invent this wildly multi-faceted work anew through the lens of the American string band, a musical format now in a marathon upheaval of innovation and expansion. On Mr Sun’s new recording, the pieces of the Suite range from close interpretations of Billy Strayhorn’s original charts to intense extrapolations based on the spirit of the material.