https://www.eventbrite.com/e/aardvark-jazz-orchestra-tickets-358579379577 MIT Kresge Auditorium
48 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra opens its historic 50th season Saturday, October 1, at 7:30 pm, on MIT’s mainstage Kresge Auditorium, with music on themes of social consciousness, spirituality, and Boston cultural history – topics that have long been central to Aardvark concerts. Among the selections will be Harvey’s Faces of Souls and Ellington’s It’s Freedom. A highlight will be the premiere of Harvey’s latest work, American Agonistes, channeling the moods of sorrow and outrage so characteristic of our times. The concert is free and open to the public. Click here to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/aardvark-jazz-orchestra-tickets-358579379577
The October 1 concert is presented by MIT Music & Theater Arts honoring Mark Harvey’s long teaching career at MIT. Dr. Harvey recently retired after serving 40 years on the music faculty. The venue, MIT’s mainstage Kresge Auditorium, is well-suited for Aardvark’s 50th season kickoff, as Kresge was home to Aardvark’s annual Spring concerts for more than 30 years, hosting such notable Aardvark events as the 1986 appearance with guest artist Jaki Byard, the 1999 Duke Ellington Centennial, and the 2019 concert with guest artist Ricky Ford.
Founded in 1973, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is one of the longest running large jazz ensembles in the world. When asked to explain the band’s longevity, Mark Harvey observes, “Aardvark has been fortunate to have a stable and dedicated personnel roster, many with 30 and 40 years of service or more. All of us share a vision of exploring new approaches while honoring the jazz tradition. My own compositions offer great improvisational freedom to the players, allowing room to experiment and explore fresh concepts together. The shared vision and the ever-unfolding collective creativity have kept us all engaged and challenged.”
Aardvark is famously eclectic, with concerts spanning Harvey’s own exploratory compositions, the jazz and blues spectrums, world music, and the American classical traditions from Billings to Gottschalk to Ives and beyond. At the heart of the repertoire are Harvey’s original works, more than 200 compositions, which he describes as “blending traditional and experimental jazz approaches with modern classical ‘new music’ to produce an updated ‘Third Stream” sensibility.” He goes on to say, “My compositional style has been greatly influenced by the players, on the model of Duke Ellington, with pieces evolving to feature various strengths and specialties of the extraordinary Aardvark musicians.” Also, he notes, “compositions have been influenced by what instruments are available, from our early beginnings as a brass band, to later editions with multi-percussionists, to our current configuration with a saxophone section that incorporates more than a dozen woodwind doubles. All of this gives me inspiration to compose a variety of sonic blends, colors and textures.”
The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has performed at concert halls, colleges and universities, festivals, jazz clubs and major cultural institutions. Guest artists have included jazz luminaries Sheila Jordan, Jaki Byard, Ricky Ford, Jimmy Giuffre, Geri Allen, Jay Clayton, Dominique Eade, Vinny Golia, Paul Lovens, Rajesh Mehta, Lewis Porter and Walter Thompson. The band has released 16 CDs, including 10 discs on Leo Records, one of the world’s leading adventurous music labels.
Mark Harvey has performed in the U.S., Mexico and Europe; has recorded with George Russell (Blue Note) and Baird Hersey (Arista/Novus) and has appeared with Gil Evans, Claudio Roditi, Howard McGhee, Sam Rivers, Kenny Dorham and others. In 2019, Jazz Boston honored Mark Harvey with the Roy Haynes Award for “exceptional contributions to jazz and the jazz community.” In 2015, Harvey was named Boston Jazz Hero by the national Jazz Journalists Association. Commissions have featured such notables as Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, Herb Pomeroy and Ran Blake. Dr. Harvey is a retired Methodist minister and is Senior Lecturer in Music Emeritus at MIT, where he taught jazz studies for 40 years.
Aardvark is: Aardvark is: Arni Cheatham, Allan Chase, Peter H. Bloom, Phil Scarff, Chris Rakowski, Dan Zupan/saxes and woodwinds; K.C. Dunbar, Jeanne Snodgrass/trumpets; Bob Pilkington, Jay Keyser/trombones; Bill Lowe/bass trombone, tuba; Richard Nelson/guitar; Bruno Raberg/string bass; Harry Wellott/drums; Grace Hughes, vocalist; Mark Harvey/piano, music director. The orchestra is managed by Americas Musicworks.