Aardvark Jazz Orchestra June 28: Joe’s Jazz and Blues Festival Grand Finale

Legendary band performs the world premiere of director Mark Harvey’s Mo-Joe, honoring Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, plus Harvey’s Spaceways (2014), celebrating the Sun Ra Centennial, and other works by Harvey, John Funkhouser, Ellington/Strayhorn


The legendary Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, one of the longest running large jazz ensembles in the world, will perform the grand finale of Joe’s Jazz and Blues Festival on Saturday, June 28 at 8 pm, Nave Music Series, 155 Powderhouse Blvd, Somerville MA 02144. Donations: $10, $15. Information: www.aardvarkjazz.com or 617 776 8778.

The band will perform the world premiere of director Mark Harvey’s Mo-Joe in honor of Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. Other Harvey originals include Spaceways (2014), celebrating the Sun Ra Centennial, and Dreaming, featuring vocalist Grace Hughes. Rounding out the show: the world premiere of the big band arrangement of The Deep by John Funkhouser, Aardvark’s stellar pianist and bassist, music by Mary Lou Williams and Gerry Mulligan, and rarely heard selections from the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn Far East Suite: the exotic Mount Harissa and the raucous Blue Pepper.

The June 28 show will be the grand finale of Joe’s Jazz and Blues Festival, a week-long festival that runs from June 21 through June 28. Established in 2009, the festival was the brainchild of Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, a jazz enthusiast and well-known supporter of the arts.

Founded in 1973, The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has been a force in the international jazz scene for more than 40 years. The Boston Globe called the band “a genuine musical treasure,” while Jazz Review (UK) praised the band’s “exuberance, imagination and sheer brio,” and CultureJazz.Fr (France) wrote, “expansive harmony, brilliant music, discipline, openness, and freedom…an exceptional big band.” The band has premiered more than 150 works for jazz orchestra; has released 11 CDs to worldwide acclaim; and performs widely. Guest artists who have appeared with Aardvark include jazz luminaries Jaki Byard, Sheila Jordan, Jimmy Giuffre, Geri Allen, Lewis Porter, Vinny Golia, Dominique Eade, Jay Clayton, Paul Lovens, Rajesh Mehta, Matt Savage and Walter Thompson.

Mark Harvey is Aardvark’s founder, music director, and principal composer/arranger. He 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, the 15th Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert, MIT Wind Ensemble, MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble and Meet-the-Composer-Lila Wallace/Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program, among others. World premieres of Harvey’s commissions have featured jazz icons Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, Herb Pomeroy, Ran Blake, and others. Dr. Harvey teaches jazz studies and composition at MIT. He is a board member of the nonprofit jazz advocacy organization JazzBoston.

Aardvark will open its 42nd season October 2, 2014, at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, celebrating the North American release of the band’s CD Impressions (Leo Records). Impressions is Aardvark’s 12th CD and the band’s 7th disc on Leo, one of the world’s leading adventuresome music labels whose catalogue includes such notables as Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra.

Aardvark is: Arni Cheatham, Peter Bloom, Phil Scarff, Chris Rakowski, Dan Zupan/saxes and woodwinds; Mike Peipman, Jeanne Snodgrass/trumpets; Bill Lowe, Jeff Marsanskis, Tom Plsek/ trombones, tuba; John Funkhouser/piano; Greg Loughman/string bass; Harry Wellott/drums; Grace Hughes, vocalist; Mark Harvey/trumpet, music director.

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is managed exclusively by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, Managing Director, 29 Newbury Street, Somerville, MA 02144-2442 USA, Telephone 617-776-8778. Visit: www.aardvarkjazz.com

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