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Innovative Aardvaaaark Jazz Orchestra amuses, entrhalls



Works by Mark Harvey.

Kresge Auditorium, Friday, April 21.


YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN FOR AN interesting evening when the program notes state, "Gleichorn [the first piece] is a kind of fantasy (perhaps nightmare to some) on an imagined collaboration by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Ornette Coleman." The program did not disappoint in living up to expectations of imaginative and enjoyable music.

The second piece was Kl"ange (German for "sound"), based on the Dadaist poem of the same name by painter Wassily Kandinsky, and it featured the talented soprano Donna Hewitt-Didham. The ethereal music effectively conveyed the mood and feeling of the poem.

The highlight of the program was perhaps Scamarama, a tone parallel to the events of the Iran-contra affair. It was the first piece with the entire 18-piece orchestra playing. In addition to some rocking tutti, the piece featured some amazing soloists, especially the awe-inspiring Harry Wellott, whose extended drum solo was one of the few enjoyable drum solos I have heard in my life. Political overtones became slightly more apparent for the last movement, Scam Dance. Over a quirky ostinato, Hewitt-Didham returned to the stage reading the Constitution; the other musicians engaged into instrumental dogfights with one other, while Mark Harvey went around shredding scores left on the players' stands.

After the intermission came Passages, a work with a variety of moods and sections, some of which seemed to work better than others but kept interest overall. The program closed with an entertaining Aardvark "standard," Zippy Manifesto, based on the comic strip character.

All of Aardvark's music is written by music director Mark Harvey (who is also an MIT lecturer in music). Styles of his compositions range from atonal Ellington to Webern to "Gleichorn," as in Glass, Reich, Ornette...leave this in--debby as in the case of the first piece. All, however, are quite original, although some may be "difficult" to listen to. Overall, the concert was quite entertaining, intriguing, as well as satisfying. The MIT community is fortunate to Have such talents as Aardvark playing here.