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Aardvark Jazz Orchestra to Perform

Written by Kate Harner

AardvarkJazzOrchestra group shot.JPGWillimantic, Conn. - The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by music director Mark Harvey, along with Eastern Connecticut State University's Concert Chorale, led by Director of Vocal Studies David Belles, will perform "Celebrating Mary Lou Williams, First Lady of Jazz," at 7 p.m. on March 16 in Shafer Auditorium. The performance is part of Eastern's 10th Annual Arts and Lecture Series.

Aard Mary Lou Williams 1944 piano.JPG            The event celebrates African American and Women's History Months and honors the legendary Mary Lou Williams, an African American composer who rose to prominence in the pre-Civil Rights/pre-Women's Rights era. Dubbed the "First Lady of Jazz," Williams (1910-1981) composed and arranged music for many leading bands, most notably Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington.

            The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra will showcase Williams' masterpieces, such as the Swing-era classic "Roll 'Em" (featuring Eastern's Jazz Ensemble led by Joseph Tomanelli) and the rarely heard "Scorpio," the only known movement from the 1945 "Zodiac Suite" that Williams wrote for big band. Eastern's Concert Chorale will join the orchestra in a rendition of "Gloria" from "Mary Lou's Mass." In addition, Harvey will present the world premiere of "Soul on Soul," his tribute to Williams written for the occasion.

            The orchestra has won various awards, including one for Best Jazz Recording at the 2000 Independent Music Awards for "Scamology," and has released 10 albums since 1973. The group has also premiered more than 100 works for jazz orchestra.

            In addition to free admission to Eastern faculty, staff, and students, admission to the

Arts and Lecture Series events is free to all middle school, high school and college students,

who are encouraged to attend. Admission for the general public is $10 per ticket; tickets can

be reserved by calling (860) 465-0036 or sending an email to For

information on the 2010-11 Arts and Lecture Series, visit

March 2015

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