Monday December 17 5:51 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

Get set for a swingin’ Christmas at ELLAbration with the Chicago Jazz Orchestra December 21 at the Studebaker

12/21/2018 - 19:30
12/21/2018 - 23:00

CJO’s new holiday tribute to Ella Fitzgerald is paired with the troupe’s annual Nutcracker Suite, a live recreation of the beloved 1960 holiday album that introduced exciting new jazz interpretations of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, arranged by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

The ELLAbration begins with Chicago jazz star Dee Alexander essaying Ella Fitzgerald’s signature holiday classics like "Oh Holy Night," "Silent Night" and "Joy to the World."

Act two’s The Nutcracker Suite will make the holiday complete with holiday jazz favorites like “Toot, Toot, Tootie Toot” (inspired by Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Reed Pipes”), “Sugar Rum Cherry” (“Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”) and “Arabesque Cookie” (“Arabian Dance”) from Duke Ellington's and Billy Strahorn’s beloved holiday album, all performed by the “mighty CJO” (-Chicago Tribune).

Ella…Ellington…don’t miss Chicago’s jazziest holiday tradition, sure to put audiences in the holiday spirit, performed by the city’s oldest professional jazz orchestra, celebrating 40 years this year.

Tickets are $35-$45. Purchase tickets in advance at, or on site that evening, subject to availability.

About Chicago Jazz Orchestra

Founded in 1978, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra ( is the city’s oldest professional jazz orchestra in continuous operation and one of the oldest jazz repertory orchestras in the country. The CJO strives to develop and promote an appreciation for and understanding of music for the American jazz orchestra as it was originally conceived, performed and recorded by jazz master composers and soloists.

Under the direction of Founder and Artistic Director Jeff Lindberg, Chicago’s premiere jazz ensemble features some of Chicago’s top jazz musicians including Scott Burns, Jerry DiMuzio, Bill Overton, Eric Schneider and John Wojciechowski on saxophone; Art Davis, Victor Garcia and Doug Scharf on trumpet; Steve Duncan, Tom Garling, Luke Malewicz and Michael Young on trombone; Dan Trudell on piano; Dennis Carroll on bass; George Fludas on drums; and Michael Pettersen on guitar.

The Orchestra has performed with such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Herbie Hancock, Jon Faddis, Kurt Elling, Jack McDuff, Kenny Burrell, Roy Hargrove, Marquis Hill, Walter White, Joshua Redman, and many more.

The CJO performs at a wide variety of top venues across the Chicago area, from the Green Mill, to City Winery, to Andy’s Jazz Club, to the Spertus Institute, to the Studebaker Theatre. In summer 2018 the CJO launched a Mondays at the Mill cocktail hour series at the Green Mill, where it played to capacity crowds every Monday night. The CJO also served as the resident orchestra for the Kennedy Center Honors Supper Dance for over 25 years, performed for a sold-out audience at the 2006 Spoleto Festival, and toured Europe twice, including Italy, Spain, Denmark and Sweden.

The CJO’s recordings include Clark Terry and Jeff Lindberg’s Chicago Jazz Orchestra: George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Americana Music, 2004), nominated “Jazz Album of The Year” by the Jazz Journalist’s Association and a rare “Five Star” rating by DownBeat magazine, Burstin’ Out with vocalist Cyrille Aimée performing classic and original jazz arrangements, and the 2017 compilation Live from Space, with live recordings from the summer of 2016 recorded at Space in Evanston.

The Chicago Jazz Orchestra is supported by The Stare Fund, The MacArthur Funds for Arts and Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Joseph B. Glossberg Foundation, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and The Saints, with media sponsorship from WDCB 90.9 FM, DownBeat Magazine and Chicago Jazz Magazine.

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Guest vocalist biography - Dee Alexander

Dee Alexander is one of Chicago’s most gifted and respected vocalists/songwriters. She names Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and yes, Ella Fitzgerald, among her many major influences. From a sultry traditional ballad, to a contemporary jazz-funk groove, a high-flying swing, or scat-filled romp, Alexander delivers each style with a passion and love of music that comes across in each and every note, and with a style and grace that is truly her own.

Alexander last performed in concert with Jeff Lindberg and the Chicago Jazz Orchestra in July at the CJO’s Mondays at the Mill happy hour series at the Green Mill. She also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2014 with CJO. Chicago Magazine named her “Best Chicago Vocalist” in 2009 and she has received both Chicagoan of the Year in Jazz and Jazz Entertainer of the Year from the Chicago Music Awards.

Alexander performs frequently in Chicago, throughout the U.S., and internationally. She hosts Sunday Jazz with Dee Alexander, a radio show on WDCB 90.9 FM, and is a host/producer with the WFMT Jazz Network. Her latest release on BluJazz, “Songs My Mother Loves,” continues to receive rave reviews.

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