Social justice and Sumner prominent in honoring of MIT jazz educator Harvey

Massachusetts Institute of Technology educator and jazzman Mark Sumner Harvey has was honored this week on both sides of the Charles.

On Tuesday, the key to the Cambridge was presented to Harvey,  of Arlington, by councillor Ken Reeves on the occasion of Jazz Boston’s seventh annual members’ event at Ryles Jazz Club, as reported in The Boston Globe.

The next day, the Boston proclaimed its own “Dr. Mark Sumner Harvey Day” in an honor offered by city councilors Felix G. Arroyo and Tito Jackson.

Harvey plays trumpet and is music director of the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. The group, celebrating its 40th season, says it is one of the longest-running large jazz ensembles in North America.

Among the points made in the proclamations:

  • Harvey helped bridge racial divides by co-founding the Jazz Coalition in 1971. It produced concerts and educational programs during the desegregation of the Boston public schools. The coalition played a role in calming racial tensions of the period and fostering a sense of community by launching JazzEd, a groundbreaking educational program for young people, and organizing the first Boston Jazz Week with its famous Jazz All Night concerts,
  • He is a descendant of the Massachusetts congressman and fierce abolitionist Charles Sumner, to whom he pays tribute in an orchestral composition titled “Sumner,” and is himself a passionate promoter of social justice through the free-wheeling music he creates with his orchestra.
  • The Jazz Coalition worked to promote jazz in community settings, served as an advocate for jazz artists and the jazz art form and created the original Jazz Week in 1973 as a collaborative celebration of jazz through the Greater Boston music community.
  • He has continued his work to connect, support and promote the diverse Boston jazz scene as a leading member of the board of directors of JazzBoston, the region’s only jazz advocacy organization.
  • As a United Methodist minister, he has organized jazz ministries at the Old West Church, Church of the Covenant and Emmanuel Church, providing pastoral counseling with a jazz perspective.
  • He has performed and recorded as a trumpeter and composer in the United States, Mexico and Europe with artists George Russell, Gil Evans, Jaki Byard, Claudio Roditi, Howard McGhee, Sam Rivers, Joe Carroll, Kenny Dorham and many others.
  • The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has received awards and commissions from ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the 15th Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert, the MIT Wind and Festival Jazz Ensembles and the Organization of American Kodály Educators (after artist Zoltán Kodály), among others.
  • He teaches jazz studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has lectured widely and has led workshops on jazz, American music and the relationship of music and religion.
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