Impulse buy of the week (last week, actually, but it came today):
Duke Ellington Three Suites
The first of the three suites is Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.
Extremely worthwhile purchase. The Nutcracker (the normal way) is kind of overplayed this time of year, or at least as overplayed as classical music ever is. Duke's version peps it up and turns it into something different enough to be fresh and interesting but familiar enough to be, well, familiar. Plus it's less ballet and more swing. Which kind of dancing do you prefer? Me, I dig the latter. Nothing against Tchaikovsky, mind, it's just nice to hear such a refreshing take on a classic. Besides, Ellington makes me want to get up and dance Tchaik (name is too long, fingers are lazy), as pretty as it is, doesn't.
Brian Setzer Orchestra also has a version of the Nutcracker Suite, which also swings, but isn't nearly as good as the Duke. Not really surprising, considering Ellington is one of the greatest greats.