The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, founded in 1973, is one of the longest continuously operating large jazz ensembles in the world. The orchestra performs original compositions by its founder and music director Mark Harvey as well as classics from the jazz tradition, American music, world music, and in collaboration with dance, film, poetry, choral, chamber, and symphonic ensembles. Aardvark has premiered more than 180 works and has released 16 CDs to international critical acclaim, including 10 recordings on Leo Records, one of the world's leading adventuresome music labels.
Guest artists have included luminaries Geri Allen, Jaki Byard, Dominique Eade, Robert Honeysucker, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Jimmy Giuffre, Vinny Golia, Rajesh Mehta, Lewis Porter, Paul Lovens, Matt Savage, and Walter Thompson. The orchestra has given featured performances for the Duke Ellington Centennial (1999), the Mary Lou Williams Centennial (2010), the 30th John Coltrane Memorial Concert Festival (2007), the 50th Annual Conference of the Society for Arts, Religion and Culture (2012) and other events. Members of Aardvark performed improvised soundtracks for the National Film Preservation Foundation’s DVD Series Treasures from the American Film Archives, which won Best DVD Series at Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, Bologna (2006).
Aardvark founder and music director 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, Joe Carroll, 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. Commissions have featured such notables as Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, Herb Pomeroy and Ran Blake. Dr. Harvey is Senior Lecturer in Music Emeritus at MIT, where he taught jazz studies and composition for 40 years.