...And just because I'm feeling like posting media today, here are a couple tunes I at least find entertaining. Duke Ellington worked with his
colleague Billy Strayhorn for many years, and together they wrote some of the most famous big band jazz ever produced. Late in Ellington's career, he
and Strayhorn looked for new musical territory to conquer. They produced a series of suites for jazz, based on other works. Notably, Steinbeck's
novel Sweet Thursday became Zweet Zurzday, Edvard Grieg's music for Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt became a jazz suite, and nine
of the dances from Tchaikovsky's setting for the ballet The Nutcracker were rearranged for jazz.
It's a little late for Christmas, which is when I usually pull these out, but they are fun any time of year. So here are my favorite two from
Ellington & Strayhorn's The Nutcracker Suite:
Today's episode: What You Can't See
The sun shone bright into the end of the alley, causing a glare and deepening the shadows along the sides of the alley. Baeler continued to scan the
alley, even though there was no one except the man – no, now there were three men – at the end of the alley, just past stacked barrels and piles
of large baskets. Two were squatted down, one was leaning against a wall, watching them. As she and Baeler approached, the men on the ground stood
up, and all three came forward to block their path. Siere noticed they were not hawkers for the market, they looked more like merchant guards. One
was tall and burly, with rough blond stubble on his jaw and a flat look in eyes that made him seem permanently squinted. The other two were similar
in appearance and build – both brown haired, stocky, and shorter than the man in the middle. They all had the tan, lined faces of someone who is
outside a great deal.
“Now, what’s a Bastion Lanceboy doing in an alleyway with a lovely young Temple girl? Meeting in secret, are you?” His western brogue was
thick, and he leered at Siere. She glanced at Baeler and caught his right hand stealing across his body toward his scabbarded sword.
Siere’s irritation flashed once again. After all that she had to put up with, now this as well? She began to gather tamborae around
her to teach the man some manners.
“I advise you to mind your tongue.”
“Your advice is noted, girl,” the tall man growled, looking directly at her. She felt a momentary flash of rage at the man’s insolence, and as
she stared daggers right back at him a nasty smile spread slowly across his face. “Perhaps after I kill your loverboy here, I’ll take you myself.
Never had me a Lady before, and a Seeress to boot.” His eyes ran over her figure hungrily.
That was too much. She gave the man a Correction.
He has no kir! she thought desperately. He gave her a wicked grin.
“Tried to Correct me, did you? Where’s your power now, you filthy Temple whore?” he snarled.
She only had a moment’s warning – his eyes broke contact and swung up to look behind her. Siere started to twist toward movement coming from
where he glanced, then screamed as something pierced her ribcage and blinding pain exploded from her side. Tamborae scattered as a voice in
her ear said, “Shouldn’t have stuck your pretty nose where it don’t belong, witch.”
Baeler cursed himself. Lord Braeghe would have his head for this. The Seeress lay on the ground, a crimson blossom on her white robes, spreading
from the knife in between her ribs, but still trying to get up. He stood his ground in front of her, sword flying. The man who stabbed her – after
coming from behind the piles of baskets – lay a couple feet away, his life draining out from the gash Baeler’s sword put in his throat.
His attention was on the three men in front of him. He stayed defensive, waiting for one of them to make a mistake. His Bastion training flooded his
head. Multiple attackers. Wait for the opening, don’t force it. Stay on your feet, stay balanced.
He scored twice, dancing around the Seeress, who had collapsed and was now still. Focus. You cannot do anything for her but kill these men.
He went on the attack.
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