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Tune in to the Livestream Album Release Celebration for the Mark Harvey Group's Recording 'A Rite for All Souls'

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Tune in to the Livestream Album Release Celebration for the Mark Harvey Group's Recording 'A Rite for All Souls'

Acclaimed trumpeter and composer Mark Harvey and woodwind master Peter H. Bloom will celebrate the release of their powerful album A Rite for All Souls with a livestream event on Sunday, August 9 at 7 p.m. EDT. Veteran jazz writer Bob Blumenthal will emcee the discussion, which features interviews with Harvey and Bloom, as well as streaming excerpts from the CD. Free and open to the public. Reservations required. Use this link to register: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sg4mfC4TR-GZGPamxIdLNw

A Rite for All Souls showcases the newly discovered recording of a 1971 concert by the Mark Harvey Group featuring Harvey, Bloom, and their late colleagues percussionists Craig Ellis and Michael Standish. The album, just out July 17 via Americas Musicworks, reaches across nearly 50 years from a time of great social turbulence in the US, taking listeners on an epic journey of discovery and delivering a message of protest, compassion, and healing that resonates today.

Mark Harvey has been an uncompromising explorer of new sonic territories for decades. He has performed in Dave Douglas's Festival of New Trumpet Music; appeared at the Knitting Factory, the Village Gate, the Public Theater, Roulette, the Berlin Jazz Festival, and the Baja State Theater (Mexico) among others; and shared the stage with Jaki Byard, Geri Allen, Ricky Ford and other luminaries. Among Harvey's 200 works are pieces written for and premiered with jazz legends Joe Lovano, Sheila Jordan, Steve Turre, Jimmy Giuffre, and Ran Blake. Harvey is founder and music director of the internationally acclaimed Aardvark Jazz Orchestra now in its 48th season. Donald Elfman (The New York City Jazz Record ) described Harvey's playing on A Rite for All Souls, "Harvey is strange and wonderful on trumpet, punctuated by delicate percussion sounds...[he] spreads his palate on trumpet and makes intensely intimate use of silence as a kind of outlining device to highlight his distinctive sounds."

Peter H. Bloom has performed widely across multiple genres in a career spanning five decades. He has performed with Mark Harvey since 1969, has been a member of The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra since 1976, has played with FiLmprov since its creation in 1996, and is a founding member of the jazz and tap ensemble, the Modernistics. He has led his own jazz groups for decades. Jazz Improv praised his "exquisite melody...the improvisations growing organically out of the theme," while Troy Dosert (AllAboutJazz.com) wrote, "Peter Bloom is featured on Rite, and his expansive creativity on a range of saxophones is one of the delights of this recording." As a recitalist and chamber musician, Bloom has toured the globe. He performs with Ensemble Aubade, Fortunato Ensemble, Ensemble Chaconne, the Henning Ensemble, and other groups. Composers such as Elliott Schwartz, Richard Cornell, Elizabeth Vercoe, Narong Prangcharoen, Karl Henning, Pamela Marshall, and Richard Nelson have written for him. His discography of 47 recordings includes Sony Classical, Navona, Dorian, Leo Records, 9Winds, and other labels.

Craig Ellis and Michael Standish are an elemental force in A Rite for All Souls. As Jon Ross notes in Ear Relevant, "percussion permeates the performance." Donald Elfman (The New York City Jazz Record) hails percussionists Ellis and Standish as "vital to the power of the music," while Jonathan Blackman (Occhi Magazine) praises "the percussion playing of Craig Ellis and Michael Standish, who support with colors that match the sounds, sometimes supporting or leading with pulsating rhythms, and the most profound part of their playing is their intuitive sense of knowing when to not play."

Bob Blumenthal's career spans more than five decades as a jazz writer and historian. He was a contributing editor of The Boston Phoenix (1969-1989) and has written jazz criticism for The Boston Globe (1990-2002), The Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Down Beat, JazzTimes and Jazziz. His first book, Jazz: An Introduction to the History and Legends Behind America's Music (2007, (HarperCollins/Smithsonian) was hailed as "the single best compact introduction to jazz currently available" by the Wall Street Journal. His second book, Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins (Abrams), in collaboration with photographer John Abbott, was published in 2010. Blumenthal has written hundreds of album notes and won two Grammy awards for best album notes for collections by John Coltrane and Miles Davis. He has provided radio and television commentary for American and Canadian media and served as a panelist for festivals in Europe, the Caribbean and South America. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2005.

More about A Rite for All Souls:

The fully improvised 90-minute concert on A Rite for All Souls encompasses serenity and turmoil, ravishing sounds and silence, poetry and melody. Harvey discovered the reel-to-reel tapes in his basement, and when he and Bloom listened to them for the first time in five decades, "We knew this was something special that deserved to be heard," Harvey says. The exquisite monaural recording has been digitally remastered for release in a 2-CD set, available at www.americasmusicworks.com

A Rite for All Souls was performed October 31, 1971, at Boston's Old West Church, where Harvey, a Methodist minister, was pursuing a jazz ministry modeled on the work of his mentor John Garcia Gensel at Saint Peter's in Manhattan.

The Mark Harvey Group was mourning, protesting, and commemorating the tragic losses of the Vietnam War, and the lives lost or threatened by poverty, discrimination, and inequality. Their music was a celebration and meditation, honoring souls departed and souls surviving during that turbulent time in American culture. "Today, we find ourselves in another dark and tumultuous time," says Harvey. "A Rite for All Souls speaks for all of us, as we share sorrow, anguish and compassion. Then, as now, we search for spiritual healing and the rediscovery of a common humanity."

A Rite for All Souls is a powerful statement of the group's aesthetic vision, captured in the phrase "aural theatre." Lit by candles, the chancel of the Old West Church (the concert "stage") was crowded with exotic percussion instruments and "found" sound-making devices, arranged in sculptural form. Two enormous tarot cards-The Tower and The Moon-were positioned on stage. "We thought of our performance space as a conceptual installation," Bloom says. As the concert unfolded, the musicians moved throughout the space. At one point, they left the room, and returned wearing monk's robes and playing organ pipes.

As always, the group performed without score or musical notation. Bloom says, "When it came to the Rite, our intention was to explore particular artistic, social and spiritual territory. We chose four poems to recite as landmarks during the performance. But there weren't specific cues, so it all developed very organically."

The concert's ritualistic opening, "Invocation," begins with soft tones of mysterious identity, played on flute, a length of pipe, and a saxophone mouthpiece. Craig Ellis' melodic trap drum solo ushers in Bloom's tenor, with his big, embracing sound. A conversational exchange between Harvey and Bloom sets the stage for Ellis's recitation of Gary Snyder's, "Spel Against Demons," that concludes with the foursome chanting in Sanskrit and leaving the stage. They return in their monk's robes blowing organ pipes for "Fanfare." A dialog between tenor and trumpet introduces Standish reading William Butler Yeats' apocalyptic "The Second Coming." Bloom's tenor solo spirals in a widening gyre to a burning climax. Then Harvey's trumpet solo offers contrasting intensity with benevolent lyricism, a broad yet distinctive tonal palette, and judicious use of silence as a frame for his phrases and tones.

The ensemble creates the dramatic arc of the performance through a dialectic between group and individual passages, the ebbing and flowing in the dynamics and density of the music, and the interplay of timbres, rhythm, and melody. You can hear the operatic tension on the second disc as the muted dynamics and textures of the group set up Ellis to read his poem, "Napalm: Rice Paper." A sorrowful, compassionate response by Bloom on soprano and Harvey on French horn follows, until the accumulated outrage of the poem seems to erupt in a lengthy, powerful percussion duet.

Throughout the performance, percussionists Ellis and Standish collaborate with finesses. From Ellis, we hear range and depth: propulsive grooves, sonic explosions, and subtle uses of space. Standish's concise and nuanced work on small percussion instruments provides elegant punctuations, ever-suited to the moment. "Michael invariably delivered le son juste," Bloom observes.

"A Rite for All Souls has powerful relevance today," Harvey says. "We live in tumultuous times, and, as Albert Ayler said, music is the healing force of the universe. There are moments that are turbulent, and the music reflects that, but overall we were trying to point in a direction toward progress and healing."


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