Aardvark Jazz Orchestra Kicks Off 41st Season October 9, at Scullers, Boston

Led by Mark Harvey, Aardvark Celebrates Blues and Other Hues

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Mark Harvey and his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (by Kate Matson)
By delamotte
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Mark Harvey and his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (by Kate Matson)
By delamotte

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Praised for “spirited composition and inspired playing” (Jazz Alchemist - Poland) and called “spellbinding” (The Boston Globe), the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, one of the longest running large jazz ensembles in the world, will open its 41st season at Scullers Jazz Club, Doubletree Suites, 400 Soldiers Field Road in Boston on October 9, at 8 pm. Tickets are $20. For information: 617-562-4111.

The legendary band, with vocalists Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes, will explore the many shades of blues in a variety of jazz styles, from Duke Ellington’s classic blues Such Sweet Thunder to a Mark Harvey original called Boston Boy (inspired by Boston-born jazz maven Nat Hentoff), plus Billy Strayhorn’s lush ballad Daydream, and other music spanning the Aardvark spectrum (“expansive harmony, brilliant music... discipline, openness, and freedom” - CultureJazz.Fr, France).

Other events in Aardvark’s Fall Season include Bluesology (the blues as social and political commentary) at MIT’s Killian Hall on November 2 at 8:00 pm; a show of All Blues at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic on November 11 at 7:00 pm; and Aardvark’s 41st Annual Christmas Concert at Emmanuel Church Boston on December 21 at 8:00 pm. Also, on October 18 at 8:00 pm, members of Aardvark perform in FiLmprov, improvising music to Kate Matson’s film The Yorick Follies at Boston’s Church of the Advent Library Concert Series.

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1973 and now celebrating its 41st season, is one of the longest continuously operating large jazz ensembles in the world. The orchestra performs original compositions by its founder and music director Mark Harvey as well as classics from the jazz tradition, American music, world music, and in collaboration with dance, film, poetry, choral, chamber, and symphonic ensembles. Aardvark has premiered more than 150 works and has released 11 CDs to international critical acclaim, including 6 recordings on Leo Records, one of the world's leading adventuresome music labels. Aardvark’s latest CD, Evocations, was named by The New York City Jazz Record as one of the magazine’s picks for Best of 2012.

Guest artists have included luminaries Geri Allen, Jaki Byard, Dominique Eade, Robert Honeysucker, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Jimmy Giuffre, Vinny Golia, Rajesh Mehta, Lewis Porter, Paul Lovens, Matt Savage, and Walter Thompson. The orchestra has given featured performances for the Duke Ellington Centennial (1999), the Mary Lou Williams Centennial (2010), the 30th John Coltrane Memorial Concert Festival (2007), the 50th Annual Conference of the Society for Arts, Religion and Culture (2012) and other events. In 2000, the band won the national Independent Music Award for best jazz recording, and in 2002, Aardvark was featured on the WCVB "Chronicle" television program. Members of Aardvark performed improvised soundtracks for the National Film Preservation Foundation’s DVD Series Treasures from the American Film Archives, which won Best DVD Series at Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, Bologna (2006).

Aardvark founder and music director has performed as trumpeter in the U.S., Mexico and Europe; has recorded with George Russell (Blue Note) and Baird Hersey (Arista/Novus); and performed with Gil Evans, Claudio Roditi, Howard McGhee, Sam Rivers, Joe Carroll, Kenny Dorham and others. He has received awards and commissions from ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Meet-the-Composer-Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program, among others. Commissions have featured such notables as Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, Herb Pomeroy and Ran Blake. Dr. Harvey teaches jazz studies and composition at MIT.

Aardvark is noteworthy for its 40-year history as an ensemble and for the long tenures of its stellar members: Arni Cheatham (35+ years), Peter Bloom (35+), Phil Scarff (25), Chris Rakowski (10), Dan Zupan (15)/saxesand woodwinds; K.C. Dunbar (22), Jeanne Snodgrass (23)/trumpets; Bob Pilkington (30+), Jay Keyser (25), Jeff Marsanskis (30+)/trombones; Bill Lowe (17+)/bass trombone and tuba; Richard Nelson (25)/guitar; John Funkhouser(21)/string bass and keyboard; Harry Wellott (30+)/drums; Grace Hughes (9), Jerry Edwards (30+),/vocalists; Mark Harvey (40)/trumpet, arranger, composer, music director.

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