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Blue Streak

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Album Review

Astral Project has a small discography under their belts, but with so much talent brimming from their collective being, it's hard to fathom they could ever run out of new material to play. Where Blue Streak consists of tracks typically familiar in their style of modern contemporary neo-bop jazz, they are remarkably consistent in their unmistakable signature sound, proud to play at such a high level of concentrated energy and serious purpose. Tony Dagradi in particular is such a distinctive tenor saxophonist that he deserves more critical acclaim than he has previously garnered, a post-John Coltrane player who has shed prior influences to attain a unique voice. He is also the majority leader in writing this material, contributing seven of the eleven compositions. Drummer John Vidacovich, a viciously tasteful and driving drummer, could lay claim to being a modern-day New Orleans equivalent of Elvin Jones. Electric guitarist Steve Masakowski and bassist James Singleton are quintessential team players whose solid chops and inside inventiveness enhance the cohesiveness of this most professional band, one of the best working jazz groups America has ever had to offer. It's hard to pick favorites because the music Astral Project performs is all so refined, but the modal 6/8 bass-driven "North Wind" with Dagradi on soprano sax is different in its sparseness; the insistent, drunk, New Orleans shuffle "Once Was" separates from the others as a true blues; and the spiky Thelonious Monk like title track reflects its name via a barking tenor sax that borders on rambling annoyance — in a demonstrative, good musical way. Dagradi's legato tenor assimilates an alto on the tribute for "Cannonball" (assumedly Adderley); "Entropy" makes a tick-tock modality stand up in a lyrical, slightly soaring sonic footprint; while the rambling loose bop of "Double Helix" really shows Dagradi as the brilliant player he is. The lone ballad, "Cobalt Dreams," sounds like classic post-bop jazz, very similar to Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." A residual Coltrane effect during the floating and spiritual-to skipping and swinging "Angel Song," or the ten-minute "Dike Finger" with Singleton's ostinato bass underpinning the guitar and sax line might be a bit intimidating and aggressive to more mainstream listeners. Nonetheless, everything seems to click and run full-bore on all cylinders with Astral Project. This is yet another one of their excellent recordings that comes easily recommended, but especially to those who are just discovering this truly great ensemble. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Formed: 1978

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

This New Orleans-based improvisational jazz group formed in 1978. Led by saxophonist Toni Dagradi, this quintet also includes pianist David Torkanowski, guitarist Steve Masakowski, bassist James Singleton, and John Vidacovich. The group's five pieces can also form different duos, trios, and quartets depending on the needs of the songs Astral Project performs. Similarly, each member of the group pursues his own solo and side projects but returns to Astral Project as home base. Musically, Astral...
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Blue Streak, Astral Project
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 16 May 2008

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