For more than thirty years, Astral Project has delighted audiences around the world with its unique brand of cutting edge improvisation and near telepathic interplay over deep New Orleans’ grooves.
In 1978, Tony Dagradi gathered together the brightest, most energetic young players in the Crescent City and started out on a path that would help shape the modern jazz scene for years to come. A devoted student of Eastern philosophy, Dagradi coined the band name as a reflection of the group’s quest for a higher plane of experience. As everyone who has seen the band in concert knows, each performance finds these men reaching for the stars.
Over the years the personnel has remained remarkably constant. Master drummer John Vidacovich continues to direct the rhythmic ebb an flow of the music as only he can. A brilliant soloist and highly sensitive accompanist, he plays with a command of dynamics, distinctive melodic accents and effervescent swing. On bass, James Singleton is a conduit of pure energy. His solid rhythmic concept and harmonic sense are the foundation of this innovative group’s improvisational strength. Steve Masakowski has long been regarded as one of the most awe-inspiring guitarists and composers in contemporary music. His technique on the unique seven string instrument which he designed has influenced a generation of guitarists. Performing on tenor and soprano saxophones, Tony Dagradi brings an emotional urgency to each solo. His huge tone and soaring lines speak of the entire tradition of jazz and constantly push the energy of the band forward.
"ECM-style grace with New Orleans humidity" - Rolling Stone
“One of the most distinctive and cohesive groups in jazz” - Down Beat
“A co-op band comprised of world class improvisers and composers... Astral Project has been New Orleans’ best kept secret for more than 20 years.” - Jazz Times
“The city’s premier modern jazz ensemble.” - New Orleans Times Picayune
“Astral Project is the finest modern jazz ensemble in New Orleans, and undoubtedly one of the most unique groups period.” - Offbeat, New Orleans Music
“New Orleans’ greatest contemporary jazz band...a lean tough, rhythmically unyielding approach to improvisation.” - Chicago Tribune
“Astral Project epitomizes the modern New Orleans jazz band...successful, independent and synthesizing the present and thick-as-gumbo past of the city’s music.” - Capital Times, Madison, WI
“It’s tough to say that a contemporary jazz group is capable of doing just about anything but in Astral Project’s case, it’s the truth.” - Stamford Advocate