Astral Project - band/ensemble
Over the past 30 years, the New Orleans band Astral Project has evolved from a jazz group that played four or five nights a week on Bourbon Street or at Tyler’s Beer Garden where bassist James Singleton, drummer Johnny Vidacovich and keyboard player David Torkanowsky, who left in 2001 were the house rhythm section to the city’s preeminent contemporary jazz group. That endurance surprises Vidacovich but not guitarist Steve Masakowski, the junior member of the group having only been with it for 20 years. “Whether we’d be playing together with Astral Project or not, I’d still be playing with all these guys.”
Keeping any relationship together for 30 years is remarkable. Think of how many good bands with every reason to stay together couldn’t do it. And in jazz, think of how many great combos were together for only an album or two. For Astral Project, lasting this long has as much to do with what it isn’t as what it is.
Saxophonist Tony Dagradi, a devoted student of Eastern philosophy, coined the band name as a reflection of the group's quest for a higher plane. As anyone who has seen the band in concert knows, every performance finds the band members reaching for the stars.
These veteran musicians -- known as tops on their instruments in jazz-rich New Orleans, each with many album credits as leaders and sidemen -- bring a wealth of diverse experience to the bandstand, which is why the group journeys into different musical spheres.