Aardvark Jazz Orchestra to Perform Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Suite December 21

Famed orchestra, led by Mark Harvey, celebrates 41st Annual Christmas Concert at Boston’s Emmanuel Church

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The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Mark Harvey Music Director (by Kate Matson)

Called “spellbinding” by The Boston Globe and praised for “lush sonorities and a saxophonic blend worthy of Duke’s finest reed sections” (JazzTimes), The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra will perform the complete Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Suite December 21 at 7:30 pm, at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St, Boston MA 02116. Admission is $20. For information call 617 776 8778 or 617 452 3205. Proceeds will benefit The Pine Street Inn, the largest provider of permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter, job training and placement, and street outreach for homeless men and women in New England.

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra gave its inaugural concert December 23, 1973 at the Church of the Covenant in Boston as a benefit for the Chelsea Fire Fund. Every year since then, the band has held a Christmas concert to support a deserving cause. Past beneficiaries have included Doctors Without Borders, American Friends Service Committee, Rosie’s Place, The Poor Peoples United Fund and dozens more. Over the past 40 years, guest artists at the Christmas concert have included Sheila Jordan, Howard McGhee, Semenya McCord, Joe Carroll, Ron Gill, Jack Powers, Kip Tiernan, Brother Blue and many others.

In this year’s Christmas Concert, Aardvark will give one of the few performances in the country of the complete Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn arrangement (1960) of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker Suite – an exuberant big band take on the perennial classic, in which the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy becomes the Sugar Rum Cherry, the Arabian Dance becomes Arabesque Cookie, and the Waltz of the Flowers becomes the Dance of the Floreadores and , and the Russian Dance is reconceptualized as The Volga Vouty. While the swing idiom is predominant, there are several segments that call for an orchestral woodwind approach, all of which is well suited to the eclectic Aardvark aesthetic.

Now in its 41st season, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is one of the longest running large jazz ensembles in the world. The band has premiered more than 150 works and has released 11 CDs, including 6 discs on the prestigious Leo Records label. Luminaries who have joined Aardvark on stage include Jimmy Giuffre, Geri Allen, Jaki Byard, Lewis Porter, Vinny Golia, Dominique Eade, Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan, Matt Savage and Walter Thompson. Founder and music director Mark Harvey 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, 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. Dr. Harvey teaches jazz studies and composition at MIT, has lectured widely on religion and the arts, and is a retired Methodist minister.

Aardvark is: Arni Cheatham, Peter Bloom, Phil Scarff, Chris Rakowski, Dan Zupan/saxes and woodwinds; K.C. Dunbar, Jeanne Snodgrass/trumpets; Bob Pilkington, Jay Keyser/trombones; Jeff Marsanskis, Bill Lowe/bass trombones, tuba; Richard Nelson/guitar; John Funkhouser/string bass; Harry Wellott/drums; Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes, vocalists; Mark Harvey/trumpet, music director.

Founded in 1969, Pine Street is the largest provider of permanent supportive housing, emergency shelter, job training and placement, and street outreach for homeless men and women in New England. Pine Street Inn welcomes more than 1,600 homeless individuals daily to provide short- and long-term solutions so that they can begin the journey out of homelessness and on to permanent housing.

Aardvark is managed exclusively by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, director, telephone 617 776 8778 or email delamotte-amw@comcast.net

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