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Storied Aardvark Jazz Orchestra performs An American Christmas, Dec 20 at Boston's Emmanuel Church: Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker, spirituals, music by Mark Harvey
(Published: December 13, 2014)

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra will perform An American Christmas, celebrating the band's 42nd Annual Christmas Benefit Concert on December 20 at 7:30 pm, Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St, Boston MA 02116. $20 at the door. Information: 617 776 8778 or 617 452 3205. The program will include music in the spirit of the season by William Billings and Mark Harvey; American carols and spirituals; and selections from the magnificent Ellington/Strayhorn Nutcracker Suite. Proceeds will benefit Poor People's United Fund, an organization fighting poverty and homelessness through education, advocacy, and support services.

Called "spellbinding" (The Boston Globe), "captivating" (JazzImprov), and "beyond category" (Downbeat), Aardvark has been praised for "lush sonorities and a saxophonic blend worthy of Duke's finest reed sections" (JazzTimes).

The December 20 show will feature William Billings' Shepherd's Carol, two African American spirituals, and selections from the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn arrangement (1960) of Tchaikovsky's beloved Nutcracker Suite - an exuberant big band take on the perennial classic, in which the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy becomes the Sugar Rum Cherry, the Waltz of the Flowers becomes the Dance of the Floreadores and the Russian Dance is transformed into The Volga Vouty. The band will also perform selections from Mark Harvey's Bethlehem Counterpoint, including The Prophet, inspired by Boston's legendary social activist Kip Tiernan (1926-2011). Tiernan was founder of Rosie's Place and co-founder of Poor People's United Fund (beneficiary of Aardvark's 2014 Christmas concert). The entire Bethlehem Counterpoint suite received its world premiere in Aardvark's 25th Annual Christmas concert, (1997, when Sheila Jordan joined the band as guest artist).

Led by founder/music director Mark Harvey, Aardvark gave its inaugural concert December 23, 1973 at the Church of the Covenant in Boston as a benefit for the Chelsea Fire Fund. Every year since then, the band has held a Christmas concert to support a deserving cause. Past beneficiaries have included Doctors Without Borders, American Friends Service Committee, Rosie's Place, Pine Street Inn, and dozens more. Over the past 40 years, guest artists at the Aardvark Christmas concert have included Sheila Jordan, Howard McGhee, Semenya McCord, Joe Carroll, Ron Gill, Jack Powers, Kip Tiernan, Brother Blue and many others.

Now in its 42nd season, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has premiered more than 150 works and has released 12 CDs, including 7 discs on the prestigious Leo Records label. Luminaries who have joined Aardvark on stage include Jimmy Giuffre, Geri Allen, Jaki Byard, Lewis Porter, Vinny Golia, Dominique Eade, Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan, Matt Savage and Walter Thompson. 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, 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. Dr. Harvey teaches jazz studies and composition at MIT, has lectured widely on jazz and on religion and music and is a Methodist minister.

Aardvark is: Arni Cheatham, Peter Bloom, Phil Scarff, Chris Rakowski, Dan Zupan/saxes and woodwinds; K.C. Dunbar, Jeanne Snodgrass, Jimmy Leach/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.

Co-founded by Kip Tiernan and Fran Froehlich in 1980, The Poor People's United Fund works to eliminate the causes of suffering due to poverty. Programs include financial and support services to grassroots organizations meeting the needs of impoverished populations; emergency assistance to a growing number of individuals and families in need of food, housing and health care; and research, education and advocacy for a better informed and more compassionate public regarding the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness.

Aardvark is managed exclusively by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, director, telephone 617 776 8778 or email delamotte-amw@comcast.net

More Information: https://www.aardvarkjazz.com

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