Long considered New Orleans's premier contemporary jazz band, Astral Project is in fact a world-class, all-star caliber quartet whose unique versatility incorporates everything from bop, swing, and the avant-garde to the bubbling cauldron of sounds and rhythms indigenous to the Crescent City. Last year, the group celebrated its 30th anniversary by releasing on its own label, Blue Streak, an accomplished collection largely drawn from a suite composed by saxophonist Tony Dagradi, but moreover showcasing the band's masterful synthesis of modern and traditional—blues or gospel or second-line funk simmering amid flowing, distinctive jazz and fierce improvisation. Dagradi, bassist James Singleton, and drummer Johnny Vidacovich (who has an amazingly supple touch but plays blistering funk as well), have been onboard since the beginning. Steve Masakowski, who plays a seven-string guitar he designed himself, joined more than two decades ago, and pianist David Torkanowsky departed in 2001. All have been profoundly influential, especially in New Orleans, where each plays in a wide variety of contexts, while Dagradi, Vidacovich, and Masakowsky have become respected educators with ties to area colleges. This will be Astral Project's first time at the AQ and their first local visit post-Katrina. (photo by Jenny Bagert)
Fridays, Saturdays, 9 p.m. Starts: Sept. 25. Continues through Sept. 26, 2009
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