French Quarter Festival
April 19, 2004
BY JASON SONGE
Astral Project always puts on a good show, and they are the undisputed best modern Jazz band in New Orleans. At it for more than twenty-five years, the quartet released their new album at French Quarter Fest Sunday afternoon on Royal Street. People lined up after the performance for it. Luckily, the band has released two albums and kept their edge since the departure of pianist David Torkanowsky four years ago.
Astral Project's performance was top-notch. It was probable that they would turn out hard-rockin' Jazz, but I didn't know where or how far they were gonna take the music. That's why it was fun to sit back in wonder at their beautiful sound. Astral Project weren't exactly Fusion, but I was stomping my foot and nodding my head like I was listening to Supagroup.
Astral Project slipped in and out of soft and loud dynamics easily because drummer John Vidacovich and bassist James Singleton worked well together. Saxophonist Tony Dagradi and guitarist Steve Masakowski rounded out the group. Singleton shook his ass and made pained war faces, while Vidacovich smiled and leisurely checked out who was hanging about his drum set during a complicated beat.
Dagradi did the talking this day. He should have left the jokes to Vidacovich, who normally speaks for the group. Vidacovich looked pale and frail Sunday. Hopefully, he is healthy.
If you don't know a lot about jazz, and you want to start, start with this band.