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Aardvark Jazz Orchestra at MIT April 29, Mark Harvey's Swamp-a-rama, Other Premieres
(Published: April 02, 2017)

MIT Music and Theater Arts will present Mark Harvey and his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra at Kresge Auditorium, Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 pm, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, free and open to the public. Information: 617 776 8778. The concert, called Democratic Vistas?, will celebrate Duke Ellington's birthday (April 29, 1899) by honoring his tradition of "social significance" compositions. Works by Harvey in this vein will include Boston Boy (for the late Nat Hentoff), the premiere of Main Man for noted impresario Fred Taylor, and first performances of contemporary tone-parallels such as Fake News Blewz, Swamp-a-rama, and Waltz of the Oligarchs. Also on the program: a reading from Walt Whitman's Democratic Vistas, and a performance of Harvey's No Walls, an anthem of hope and inclusivity. The April 29 event is part of Jazz Boston's Jazz Week, with this year's theme of Thank You Fred Taylor.
Ellington works will include Tell Me It's the Truth from the first Sacred Concert, and I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good from the musical show Jump for Joy, Ellington's "social significance" musical revue, where he broke from the minstrel stereotype to create a full-fledged black musical production with very human portrayals, rather than racist caricatures.

Mark Harvey has been composing music on socio-political themes, and performing/recording it with The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, for several decades. Suites include Scamarama (inspired by the Iran Contra debacle), American Agonistes (for the Second Iraq War), Blood on the Sun/New Moon Rising, (for 9/11) and Commemoration (Boston 2013) for the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy.

Swamp-a-Rama, which will make up the second half of the April 29 show, is the latest in the long line of these works. The premiere coincides with the culmination of the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. The pieces cast a satirical, perhaps sardonic, look at goings-on in our politics and culture. The suite will be introduced by a reading from Walt Whitman's jeremiad written in post-Reconstruction America entitled Democratic Vistas. Excoriating the corruption that he observed everywhere, this essay could have been written today and is an apt cautionary tale for our present situation.

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1973 and now celebrating its 44th season, is one of the longest continuously operating large jazz ensembles in the world. The orchestra has premiered more than 175 works and appears on 14 CDs, including 8 on the Leo Records label. Guest artists have included luminaries Sheila Jordan, Jaki Byard, Jimmy Giuffre, Geri Allen, Dominique Eade, Vinny Golia, Robert Honeysucker, Rajesh Mehta, Lewis Porter, Matt Savage, and Walter Thompson.

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 by Americas Musicworks.

More Information: http:www.aardvarkjazz.com

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