The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra: The Seeker
Pianist/trumpeter/educator Mark Harvey also serves as the music director, conductor and composer for "The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra”. A live recording, The Seeker is dedicated to the memory of John Coltrane and features the thunderous and somewhat brawny sounds of the large orchestra along with sequences comprising a handful of soloists performing introspective themes amid fluttering horns, dainty percussion and counterbalancing motifs. Yet on the title track, drummer Harry Wellot and percussionist Craig Ellis employ a cavalcade of odd metered rhythms and subtle tonal shadings that spur the orchestral voicings into loose swing vamps amid climactic developments. Here, tenor saxophonist Ami Cheatham accelerates the overall sense of the dynamic with an extended and altogether raucous solo!
The thirty-nine minute opus, “Passages/Psalms IV” features scratchy, raspy-throated phrasing and blistering notes by trumpeter Taylor Ho-Bynum whereas, the musicians catapult the momentum into some sort of domino effect as the horns and woodwinds offset cagey themes and melodies with jolting dialogue. However, the boisterous musings eventually give way to a delightful 4/4 pulse and Peter Bloom’s hip, jazzy flute work. Therefore, Mark Harvey’s multidimensional frameworks transparently evolve into sub themes as the musicians effectively alter the hue and demeanor of these often polytonal and extroverted arrangements.
* * * ½ (out of * * * * *)
Track Listing: 1) The Seeker 2) Heartsong 3) Passages/Psalms IV
Personnel: Music Director & Conductor; Mark Harvey: Saxophones & Woodwinds; Ami Cheatham, Peter Bloom, Phil Scarff, Daniel Ian Smith, Dan Bosshardt, Brad Jones: Trumpets; K.C. Dunbar, Greg Kelley, Jeanne Snodgrass, Taylor Ho-Bynum: Bass Trombones/Tubas; Jeff Marsankis, Bill Lowe: Guitar; Richard Nelson: String Bass; Jesse Williams: String Bass/Piano; John Funkhouser, Mark Harvey: Drums; Harry Wellot: Percussion; Craig Ellis