Dec 23, 1973: Christmas in Gospel and Brass
This December 21 witnessed the 41st annual Aardvark Christmas Concert, an event that was held for the first time on this day in 1973. The concert is a tradition in Boston, always well attended—this year they ran out of programs.
Aardvark itself upholds two concert-night traditions it started in 1973—that the program be musically arresting, and that the night benefit a good cause. This year Aardvark did both, again, in most pleasing fashion. It performed the entire Ellington-Strayhorn Nutcracker Suite, and I can’t recall anybody doing that in Boston, and it donated generously to the Pine Street Inn. ‘Tis the season.
The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra is of course the chief musical preoccupation of trumpeter, composer, and arranger Mark Harvey. He was already something of a Christmas music veteran in 1973; for three years he’d been leading the Boston Brass Ensemble, a group he organized to play at the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony and other holiday events. Aardvark grew out of the Boston Brass Ensemble. It added a rhythm section to the brass group, and it expanded the repertoire into the realms of Harvey’s interests, big-band and free jazz.
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