Mark Harvey was the guest of honor at JazzBoston’s seventh anniversary celebration, which drew 150 denizens of the Greater Boston jazz scene to Ryles Jazz Club on Tuesday night, Jan. 29.
Dr. Harvey, who is also the founder and director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, now in its 40th year, and a descendant of Massachusetts Congressman and abolitionist Charles Sumner, was recognized for the roles he has played quietly but passionately on Boston’s jazz scene for the past 44 years: minister, musician, band leader, educator, community builder and musical warrior for social justice.
To commemorate the occasion, both Boston and Cambridge passed resolutions proclaiming Jan. 30 Mark Sumner Harvey Day in their respective cities. Councilor-at-Large Felix Arroyo and Councilor Tito Jackson sponsored the Boston resolution, which was presented to Dr. Harvey at the JazzBoston event by Ron Bell, former aide to Gov. Deval Patrick and advisor to Jackson. The Cambridge resolution was sponsored by Councilor Kenneth Reeves, who presented it to Dr. Harvey along with a Key to the City at the Jan. 29 event.
“Through his own example, Mark has conveyed to us the importance of community,” said Pauline Bilsky, executive director of JazzBoston, the only jazz advocacy organization in the Greater Boston area. “Some of the most ambitious things JazzBoston does are a continuation of the work begun by Mark and his Jazz Coalition in the 1970’s. The best example is Jazz Week, which the JazzCoalition created and JazzBoston revived in 2007 and, with Mark’s help, has presented every spring since then. Another example is the Campaign for the Future of Local Jazz Radio, a collective effort JazzBoston is coordinating to get more jazz on the airwaves.”
Among those paying tribute to Dr. Harvey at Ryles were Fred Harris, Festival Jazz Ensemble director at MIT, which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its jazz program this year; Cathleen McCormick, programs director of the Office for the Arts at Harvard; JazzBoston board member and Berklee College of Music provost Larry Simpson; dean of New England jazz radio Eric Jackson; former WGBH jazz radio host Steve Schwartz; WICN board president Tom Lucci; Wally’s Jazz Cafe matriarch Elynor Walcott; Boston Ballet director of education and community initiatives Zakiya Thomas; impresario and Scullers Jazz Club entertainment director Fred Taylor; restaurateur Darryl Settles; music critic and author Bob Blumenthal; and Arts Fuse writer J. R. Carroll.
Both JazzBoston and Mark Harvey have strong ties to the Back Bay. Besides being based here on Commonwealth Avenue since its founding in 2006, JazzBoston is headed by Back Bay resident Pauline Bilsky, former NABB board member Don Carlson is the organization’s chief operating officer, and Berklee provost Larry Simpson is a member of its board of directors. JazzBoston also produces the opening and closing programs for the Boston Public Library’s Concerts in the Courtyard series.
Mark Harvey, who is a United Methodist Minister, has organized jazz ministries at the Church of the Covenant and Emmanuel Church, and his Aardvark Jazz Orchestra presents its annual Christmas concert at Emmanuel, donating the proceeds to neighborhood service organizations.