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Extraordinary line-up of Stefon Harris (vibes & marimba), Kenny Barron (piano), Ron Carter (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums) improvises on classic Tchaikovsky themes for the perfect holiday season CD.

On October 23, 2001, the new East Coast-based Vertical Jazz Records will release the debut recording by a phenomenal new ensemble, THE CLASSICAL JAZZ QUARTET (CJQ), comprising four of the most accomplished jazz musicians of the day. Titled “The Classical Jazz Quartet: Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker," the recording features the CJQ creating fresh improvisations on the themes of the holiday classic The Nutcracker.

The CJQ is composed of two living titans of jazz pianist KENNY BARRON (Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Sphere) and bassist RON CARTER (Miles Davis, over 3,000 recordings) joined by two younger musicians the trailblazing vibraphonist STEFON HARRIS and the versatile and tasteful drummer LEWIS NASH.

Inspired by the genre-crossing spirit of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and using the same instrumentation, the CJQ does not attempt to make a jazz translation of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece (as in Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's magnificent 1961 arrangement). Rather, the musicians take the celebrated themes from several movements such as The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and The Waltz of the Flowers and use them as springboards for swinging, bluesy, and mellow improvisations. The result is a perfect CD for holiday festivities or a relaxing evening by the fire.

According to the liner notes by producer Bob Belden (himself a talented saxophonist, composer, and bandleader): “The music is happy and mysterious, swinging and gentle. The buoyancy in the performances reflects the spirit of the season. This CD features four of the finest jazz musicians in the world today. Period."

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's immortal ballet The Nutcracker was commissioned by the Moscow Ballet, and was based on the story Nutcracker and Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The ballet, which premiered on December 18, 1892, transformed the story into a childrens tale of the joy and special nature of the holiday season.

Vertical Jazz Records is headed by producer Suzanne Severini, dedicated to making jazz accessible to the public by releasing new CDs featuring top-name artists playing well-known compositions all at an affordable price. The label debuted in fall 2000 with six acclaimed releases: The Great Composers of Jazz, Jazz Straight Up, Late Night Jazz, Jazz on Broadway, Jazz Relaxante, and A Jazzy Christmas. Jazz Times Magazine said that this “attractive six-CD series proves the label is off to a strong start."

The Classical Jazz Quartet
Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker
Vertical Jazz Records
Release date: October 23, 2001

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