About the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra

  • “Stunningly beautiful and adventurous” – New York City Jazz Record
  • “One of the best jazz ensembles in the world”  – Jazz Podium (Germany)
  • “Lush sonorities and a saxophonic blend worthy of Ellington’s finest reed sections.”   – JazzTimes
  • “Captivating” – Jazz Improv
  • “Exuberance, imagination and sheer brio.”  – Jazz Review (UK)
  • “Expansive harmony, brilliant music… discipline, openness, and freedom… an exceptional big band.”    -CultureJazz.Fr (France) ​
40th Season Celebration, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

40th Season Celebration, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

​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.

Mark Harvey on trumpet

Mark Harvey on trumpet

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.

  • “It’s great music.  Aardvark have an eloquence in their improvisation written inside the art of orchestration.  A pity Duke and The Count can’t hear where their great art form has gotten to.”     – What’s New Jazz Magazine (United Kingdom)
  • “Aardvark suggests the best and the brashest of Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, George Russell, and even Frank Zappa.”   – JazzTimes
  • “Awe-inspiring audience fascination”  – Downbeat