Mark Harvey, circa 1975Mark Harvey, circa 1975.

UPDATED April 18: The celebration of the 50th year of Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by Arlington's Mark Harvey, continues with a spring concert scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Church of the Covenant, 67 Newbury St. in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. The occasion is Duke Ellington's birthday.

Ellington, Mary Lou Williams and John Coltrane were musical explorers and major contributors to the jazz art form, as well as sources of inspiration for Harvey, an orchestra news release said. In the April 29 concert, he intends to celebrate these musical giants, their influences in his own career and their connections across Aardvark’s 50-year history.

Ellington highlights include “Come Sunday,” featuring Aardvark vocalist Grace Hughes, and “Chinoiserie” from the Afro-Eurasian Eclipse. Harvey’s piece “Soul on Soul” (2010, for Williams) is a mix of light funk and hard swing, paying joyful homage to Williams, whom Ellington called “soul on soul.” 

The band salutes Coltrane with Harvey’s composition “The Seeker” (1994), which evokes "Trane’s" quest for enlightenment and peace through Afro-jazz rhythmic foundations and soaring modal melodies and harmonies. 

Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, with Mark Harvey, 2020Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, with Mark Harvey, first row center.

A highlight is the premiere of Harvey’s latest work, “Prayer for Ukraine,” a meditative plea for peace and humanity amid the violence and brutality of an unjust war.

Mandorla Music helps

To present the April concert, Aardvark is partnering with Mandorla Music, a producer of jazz and creative-music events in greater Boston.

Mandorla, a nonprofit, is the orchestra's fiscal agent to support fund-raising efforts.

Revenue from ticket sales alone won’t cover the costs of presenting this concert, so supporters had asked the public to contribute by Monday, Feb. 6.

To make a tax-deductible donation via Mandorla Music, click here >> 

You can also buy tickets using the same link.

Mandorla Music’s founder and president, Mark Redmond, said in the news release, “We can’t wait to bring together first-timers and longtime fans to hear the mighty AJO” at the place where Aardvark gave its first concert, in 1973. 

 Dec. 21, 2022: Hear Aardvark Jazz Christmas on WETF


This news announcement was published Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, based on information in a news release from Rebecca DeLamotte. The copy was updated and the photo added April 18, 2023.