You're probably tired of Christmas music by now. Between shopping, surfing the radio in the car, hitting bars or even riding in the elevator at work, you're going to scream the next time you hear "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." We know the feeling. But for a twist on seasonal classics, nothing beats the Nutcracker Suite by our own Duke Ellington. The Duke jazzed the titles of Tchaikovsky's legendary score -- "Dance of the Reed Pipes" became "Toot Toot Tootie Toot," "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" was rechristened "Sugar Rum Cherry" -- and added swinging brass and colorful solos to the familiar tunes. The whole suite is filled with holiday joy. In one of our favorite local December traditions, local trombonist Eric Felten leads his big band through Ellington's festive reinterpretation at Blues Alley, as well as a selection of swingin' holiday jazz standards. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are sold out, but seats at 10 are still available. Get 'em while they're hot.
-- Fritz Hahn (Updated Dec. 7, 2009)