The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra (Mark Harvey, director) will open its historic 47th season with a Duke Ellington Celebration, including classics and sacred music featuring the First Parish of Concord choir, directed by Elizabeth Norton, with Nikki Turpin, narrator. The concert is sponsored in collaboration with The Robbins House.
Aardvark has been called "stunningly beautiful" (New York City Jazz Record), "spellbinding" (The Boston Globe) and "one of the best jazz ensembles in the world" (Jazz Podium, Germany). AllAboutJazz.com wrote, "Aardvark and Ellington are an ideal couple."
The September 22 concert will honor Duke Ellington (1899-1974) in his 120th birthday year with a program celebrating joy, justice, and love - themes that were important for Ellington throughout his life. Selections will range widely, from hits like Satin Doll, Solitude, and I’m Beginning to See the Light, to joyful music from Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. Among the sacred works, Aardvark will perform New World A-Comin’ and two pieces featuring The First Parish Choir: the ebullient David Danced before the Lord, and It’s Freedom, a powerful expression of Civil-Rights-era fervor with resonance for today.
The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra performs widely, has premiered more than 175 works for jazz orchestra, and has released 15 CDs, including 9 discs on Leo Records and a recording of Duke Ellington's Sacred Music on the Aardmuse label. Aardvark guests have included Sheila Jordan, Ricky Ford, Geri Allen, Jaki Byard, Jimmy Giuffre and other luminaries. The band has performed Ellington concerts for more than three decades, including an Ellington Centennial Concert in 1999 at MIT’s mainstage Kresge Auditorium. Mark Harvey has transcribed many Ducal works, and has written and lectured about Ellington for more than 25 years.
Aardvark is: Arni Cheatham, Peter H. 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; John Funkhouser/piano; Rick McLaughlin/string bass; Harry Wellott/drums; Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes, vocalists; and Mark Harvey, arranger/music director. The orchestra is managed by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, director, telephone 617 776 8778