Astral Project Releases New Album


Astral Project, one of New Orleans’ top modern jazz groups, released its first full-length
recording in three years, Big Shot on April 1. The album of 11 original tunes will be available on the Internet, at select record stores and at concerts starting April 1.

Big Shot finds Astral Project indulging more than ever before in the playful grooves of the Crescent City. The tunes “Spherical” and “Retroactive” illustrate saxophonist Tony Dagradi’s command of the blues. “Magic Lantern” and “Pandemonium” are from the ever-inventive pen of bassis t James Singleton. Guitarist Steve Masakowski contributed the funky opening and closing cuts. Meanwhile, drummer John Vidacovich propels the entire project with streetwise drive.

But the record also reflects the band’s thoughtful side with the song “Vigil (for Sept. 11)” and its companion piece, “Vengeance.” Both were written by Steve Masakowski in the days immediately after the terrorist attacks of last autumn. Extensive liner notes by James Singleton provide details of those emotional days.

Big Shot is Astral Project’s first release following the departure last year of longtime pianist David Torkanowsky. These arrangements—fine-tuned on the road—showcase a quartet brimming with spontaneous communication and focused intensity.

The CD was recorded “live in the studio” at Word of Mouth in the Algiers Point section of New Orleans. Most of the takes were selected from a briskly-paced set the band played on the last day of a three-day session. Astral Project and friend/collaborator Michael Pellera produced the disc to capture the most natural sounds and vibes.

“It felt great as we were laying it down,” says Tony Dagradi, who founded Astral Project in 1978 from the cream of the New Orleans modern jazz scene. “And I love the way it came out. It’s definitely our best record yet.”

For more information, and to order the CD, go to

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