Mr Sun Conjures Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite.
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 extraordinary 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 which now is presently engaged 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.
Mr Sun premiered the work at the Freshgrass Festival at Mass/MOCA in September of 2023, concurrent with the release of the recording. The project has been generously underwritten by the Freshgrass Foundation.
Mr Sun consists of Darol Anger, one of the original “nuclear” generation of string band musicians who helped invent David Grisman’s Dawg Music in the mid 1970s, and went on to found the groundbreaking Turtle Island String Quartet, Psychograss, and The Republic Of Strings, featuring Brittany Haas and Scott Nygaard. Mandolinist Joe K. Walsh and guitarist Grant Gordy have spent 20 years re-inventing their chosen instruments based on the world cultural explosion of string band music, and are musical leaders, respected teachers and clinicians all over the world.