Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra
The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1973, 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. 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 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, 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: 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. Aardvark is managed exclusively by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, director. Telephone: 617 776 8778. Visit: www.aardvarkjazz.com and www.americasmusicworks.com
Awards:Included in Best of 2012 picks by New York City Jazz Record Best jazz recording, Independent Music Awards, 2000
Allaboutjazz.com praised the group's lush sonorities...a saxophonic blend worthy of Duke's finest reed sections.
JazzTimes called Aardvark “a bracing walk on the wild side of the big band spectrum...Aardvark suggests the best and the brashest of Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, George Russell, and even Frank Zappa.”
Other kudos include:
“The AJO has become adept over the years at blending improvised and compositional elements, full-on free-for-all and the most delicate of sound patterns….admirers of large-scale improvised jazz will be delighted with the exuberance, imagination and sheer brio in evidence throughout this rich, absorbing album.” ~ Chris Parker, Jazz Review, United Kingdom
“Expansive harmony, brilliant music... discipline, openness, and freedom: a sumptuous work… an exceptional big band.” ~ CultureJazz.Fr (France)
“The colorful refinement of Gil Evans' works, the harmonic, dissonant edge worthy of Stan Kenton, and also some nasty jazz kick in the spirit of Mingus. Spirited composition and inspired playing.”
~ Jazz Alchemist, Poland
“a stunning hour of music that is, in turn, beautiful, poignant and raucous” ~ Billboard.com