- Released: May 24, 1999
- Label: Leo Records Uk
- 3.Passages / Psalms IV
Personnel: Richard Nelson (guitar); Peter H. Bloom (flute, piccolo, alto saxophone); Arni Cheatham (flute, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Dan Bosshardt, Phil Scarff (clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Brad Jones (soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone); Taylor Ho Bynum (trumpet, slide trumpet); Greg Kelley, Jeanne Snodgrass (trumpet); Jay Keyser, Russell Jewell, Bob Pilkington (trombone); Bill Lowe, Jeff Marsanskis (bass trombone, tuba); John Funkhouser, Mark Harvey (piano); Jerry Edwards (electric bass); Harry Wellott (drums); Craig Ellis (percussion).
Recording information: Kresge Auditorium, MIT, Cambridge, MA (04/25/1998-04/16/2000).
The Seeker is the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra's third album and was recorded live on two separate occasions at MIT's Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge, MA, on April 25, 1998, and April 16, 2000. The album is comprised of three pieces composed by the orchestra's leader Mark Harvey. The 18-minute "The Seeker" is presented as a tribute to John Coltrane. A hearty piece of work, it shifts from conducted improvisations to Mancini-like riffs with a fiery tenor solo by Arni Cheatham. A meditative state is brought to climactic ramblings and then put to sleep, after which the orchestra comes back for a jubilant closing section. "Heartsong," dedicated to Myanmar activist Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is a lot more delicate and closer to contemporary classical (think Edgar VarŠse) than anything jazz. A little disconcerting at first, it makes a nice break between the two main pieces of the program. "Passages/Psalms IV" is a 40-minute suite reflecting life passages backed by texts taken from Psalms (previous pieces in this series were documented on the orchestra's second CD Psalms and Elegies). Beginning softly and as if picking up where "Heartsong" left, the piece eventually turns into a swing number before breaking down and coming to an almost full stop, a structure that will be repeated a few times. Once again, the musicians alternate from thoroughly written lines to conducted improvisation. This piece bears a few overlong passages and doesn't have the engaging feeling of "The Seeker" (some would say it's too cerebral). Overall, this CD makes an enjoyable listen, but it doesn't break any new ground into avant-garde orchestral jazz or experimental big-band territories. The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has recorded better material. ~ Fran‡ois Couture