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Aardvark Jazz highlights Ellington

Mark Harvey, trumpet, 2018Aardvark Jazz Orchestra

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra will open its 49th season with an in-person concert titled "A Duke Ellington Celebration," set for 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale St, Beverly.

Leading the group in the St. John’s Concert Series is Arlington resident Mark Harvey.

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Called “stunningly beautiful” (The New York City Jazz Record) and “one of the best jazz ensembles in the world” (Jazz Podium, Germany), Aardvark will play such classics as "Satin Doll" and "I’m Beginning to See the Light" and joyful selections from Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, including the lyrical "Come Sunday" and the jubilant "It’s Freedom." Aardvark has been performing all-Ellington concerts for more than three decades, praised for “lush sonorities and a saxophonic blend worthy of Ellington’s finest reed sections.” (Jazz Times).

Duke's background

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899-May 24, 1974) was honored by universities, American presidents and European royalty, and was equally at home in concert halls, churches, nightclubs and international venues.  His magnificent catalog spans the spectrum of American music, and is, in his own words, “beyond category.”

With worldwide distribution of 16 CDs and performances in festivals, churches, concert halls, colleges and universities, The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has been a major force in the international jazz scene for almost 50 years.  The band has premiered more than 175 works for jazz orchestra and has garnered critical acclaim around the globe.  Of the band’s 16 CDs, 10 are on Leo Records.  Aardvark guest artists have included Sheila Jordan, Ricky Ford, Geri Allen, Jaki Byard and Jimmy Giuffre.

Aardvark has performed all-Ellington concerts for more than three decades, including an Ellington Centennial on MIT’s main stage, Kresge Auditorium, in 1999, recorded by WGBH Radio and later released on the Aardvark CD Duke Ellington/ Sacred Music (Aardmuse). Harvey has transcribed many of Ellington's works, and has written and lectured about Ellington for 30 years. 

Harvey's background

In 1974, Harvey was an usher at Ellington's funeral, held at St. John the Divine Cathedral Church in New York City, where Ellington had previously premiered his Second Sacred Concert.  Harvey co-produced an Ellington Sacred Concert at Boston Symphony Hall in 1988, performed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra under the direction of Mercer Ellington.

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 and Kenny Dorham. In 2019, Jazz Boston honored 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.  

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: Arni Cheatham, Peter H. Bloom, Phil Scarff, Chris Rakowski, Dan Zupan/saxes and woodwinds; Mike Peipman, Jeanne Snodgrass/trumpets; Bob Pilkington, Jay Keyser/trombones; Jeff Marsanskis, Bill Lowe/bass trombones, tuba; Rick McLaughlin/string bass; Richard Nelson/guitar; Harry Wellott/drums; Grace Hughes, vocalist; and Harvey, arranger/music director.  

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is managed by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, director, telephone 617 776 8778, email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

April 3, 2021: Aardvark Jazz Orchestra video concert held with Zoom reception


This news announcement was published Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

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