Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Arni Cheatham will make his first guest appearance with MIT's Festival Jazz Ensemble Nov. 18 in "Saxophrenia and Other Benign Maladies," a concert honoring jazz musicians.
Cheatham will be the featured soloist in "Movin' On," a piece written for him by MIT lecturer Mark Harvey. Harvey will guest conduct the piece along with "Saxophrenia," an original composition for five saxophone players, now arranged for the eighteen-member Festival Jazz Ensemble.
Originally from Chicago, Cheatham discovered the saxophone during high school and started playing gigs when he was 15. He met Harvey in 1969, and the two cofounded the Jazz Coalition of Boston. When Harvey formed the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra in 1973, Cheatham was the lead alto saxophonist.
"Arni is just a phenomenal musician, and he has a great ear and a great sense, like all the really great jazz musicians do, of being able to adapt in the moment as to what the music is doing," Harvey said.
Also on Saturday, Cheatham will perform dream ballads from the 1940s and '50s.
Under the direction of Wind Ensembles director Fred Harris, the Festival Jazz Ensemble will perform a selection of works with connections to the MIT community. The ensemble will honor former director Herb Pomeroy with a performance of "The Quiet Words of the Wise," by musician and film composer Jamshied Sharifi (S.B. 1983), who led the Festival Jazz Ensemble from 1985 to 1993. The concert will also feature Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," arranged by former MIT artist-in-resident Guillermo Klein, and Duke Ellington's "Rockin' in Rhythm," chosen as a tribute to Harvey, a longtime Ellington scholar.
The concert begins at 8 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Tickets are $5 at the door. For more information, call x3-2826.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 15, 2006 (download PDF).