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 shows, from new music by founder/director Mark Harvey to classics and rarities by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and other jazz legends. Aardvark has given premieres of more than 175 works for jazz orchestra, performs widely, and appears on 14 CDs, including 8 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, Lewis Porter, and Matt Savage, to name a few.
Composer/trumpeter Mark Harvey is the founder and music director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra and teaches jazz studies and composition 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 the MIT Sesquicentennial Celebration, Organization of American Kodaly Educators,and the MIT Festival Jazz and Wind Ensembles, among others. In 2015, Dr. Harvey was named Boston Jazz Hero by the Jazz Journalists Association, one of 24 jazz advocates/activists recognized nationally.
Included in Best of 2012 picks by New York City Jazz Record Best jazz recording, Independent Music Awards, 2000
Aardvark has won praise from jazz critics across the globe. Allaboutjazz.com praised the group's "lush sonorities...a saxophonic blend worthy of Duke's finest reed sections." JazzTimes called Aardvark “a bracing walk on the wild side of the big band spectrum...Aardvark suggests the best and the brashest of Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, George Russell, and even Frank Zappa.” Other kudos include: “The AJO has become adept over the years at blending improvised and compositional elements, full-on free-for- all and the most delicate of sound patterns….admirers of large-scale improvised jazz will be delighted with the exuberance, imagination and sheer brio in evidence throughout this rich, absorbing album.” ~ Chris Parker, Jazz Review, United Kingdom “Expansive harmony, brilliant music..