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Venerable Aardvark Jazz Orchestra Opens 43rd Season with CD Release Party at Scullers
(Published: September 17, 2015)

Called "captivating" (Jazz Improv), "spellbinding" (The Boston Globe), "brilliant" (CultureJazz.Fr), and "beyond category" (Downbeat), The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is one of the longest running large jazz ensembles in the world. The legendary band, led by founder/director Mark Harvey, kicks off its 43rd season at Scullers with a show of Jazz Americana, featuring the CD-release of Deep River, a multi-movement suite written for Aardvark by Richard Nelson ("an ambitious and daring composer" - All About Jazz). In addition, the band pays tribute to the resilient city of New Orleans a decade after hurricane Katrina, with NOLA by Aardvark director Mark Harvey and Duke Ellington's raucous Second Line from his New Orleans Suite. Aardvark also performs Billy Strayhorn's classic Chelsea Bridge, marking the centennial of this great American composer.

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, Anita-Ann Jerosch, Jeff Marsanskis/trombones; Bill Lowe, bass trombone/tuba; Richard Nelson/guitar; John Funkhouser/string bass; Harry Wellott/drums; Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes, vocalists; Mark Harvey/trumpet, music director.

"Aardvark suggests the best and the brashest of Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, George Russell, and even Frank Zappa." (JazzTimes)

More on Deep River: Richard Nelson's multi-faceted suite Deep River, written for The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, brings a contemporary, jazz-influenced lens to a diverse set of American traditional songs from the 1920s and 1930s: Deep River Blues, Old Country Stomp, Wake Up Jacob, and Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor. The haunting Deep River Blues was originally recorded by the Delmore Brothers, but is best known in versions by Doc Watson. Old Country Stomp is an energetic dance tune found on a recording by the itinerant Texan Henry Thomas, complete with transcription of a rare "quills" solo (here played on piccolo). Wake Up Jacob is an unusually loose and fluid fiddle tune recorded by Prince Albert Hunt's Texas Ramblers. The bluesy, troubled Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor is most closely associated with Mississippi John Hurt. Deep River treats these inspired, historically rich songs at times abstractly, at times as springboards for Aardvark's inventive improvisers, and finally in surprising though recognizable settings featuring Aardvark vocalists Jerry Edwards and Grace Hughes.

About Richard Nelson: Composer/guitarist Richard Nelson is recognized for his skillful and original integrations of contemporary jazz and classical composition and performance practices. His works have been performed by ensembles such as the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the BMI Jazz Composers Orchestra, and he has performed as guitarist with many notable figures, across the U.S. and abroad. A core member of The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra for many years, Dr. Nelson is Professor of Music and head of the Composition Concentration at the University of Maine at Augusta.

About the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra and Mark Harvey:

Founded in 1973, The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has been a force in the international jazz scene for more than 40 years. Aardvark is one of the longest-running large jazz ensembles in the world. The band is well known for its wide-ranging programs drawing on American music from jazz, blues, folk, popular, and concert traditions. The ensemble has performed original works and arrangements spanning nearly 250 years, from Revolutionary-War era composer William Billings to Louis Moreau Gottschalk to Charles Ives to Duke Ellington and John Cage, along with numerous works by Mark Harvey from the 1970s to the present day.

Aardvark has given premieres of more than 175 works for jazz orchestra, performs widely, and appears on 13 CDs, including 7 discs from Leo Records, one of the world's leading adventuresome music labels. Guest artists who have appeared with Aardvark include jazz luminaries Jaki Byard, Sheila Jordan, Jimmy Giuffre, Geri Allen, Raj Mehta, Dominique Eade and Matt Savage.

Mark Harvey is the founder and music director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra and teaches jazz studies at MIT. Harvey has performed in major venues including Fenway Park and Symphony Hall, Boston, the Knitting Factory and the Village Gate (NYC), the National Gallery of Art (DC), the Left Bank Jazz Society (MD), the Southern California Institute of Architecture (CA), the Berlin Jazz Festival (Germany), and the Baja State Theater (Mexico). His musical credits also include recordings with George Russell's Living Time Orchestra (Blue Note), and Baird Hersey & the Year of the Ear (Arista/Novus) and appearances with Gil Evans, Howard McGhee, Sam Rivers, Claudio Roditi, and other notables. Harvey has received commissions from the Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, the 15th Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert, FiLmprov, the Organization of American Kodaly Educators, Eastern CT State University, the MIT Sesquicentennial Celebration, and the MIT Festival Jazz and Wind Ensembles. His essay on the history of avant-garde jazz in Boston will appear as part of a forthcoming compilation recording, The Boston Creative Jazz Scene 1970-1983 (Culture of Souls) featuring Mark Harvey, Peter Bloom, and Arni Cheatham, among others. In 2015, Dr. Harvey was named Boston Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association, one of 24 jazz advocates/activists recognized nationally for significant contributions to their communities.

The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is managed by Americas Musicworks, Rebecca DeLamotte, Managing Director, 29 Newbury Street, Somerville, MA 02144, Telephone 617-776-8778. Email: delamotte-amw@comcast.net

More Information: http://www.scullersjazz.com/

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