September 2, 2014  

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Astral Project to Bring New Orleans Jazz to the Hub City

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Astral Project will perform at the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus Sept. 16.
Astral Project will perform at the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus Sept. 16.

The Crescent City has always been known for being on the cutting edge of jazz music. Since 1978, Astral Project has delighted audiences as they pushed the envelope for the modern jazz movement.

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music is pleased to welcome them as part of the free Connoisseur Series on Monday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus.

Over the years, the members have stayed very consistent with drummer John Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton, guitarist Steve Masakowski and saxophonist Tony Dagradi. These players have each brought their own unique strengths to the table, commanding full emotion and control out of their respective instruments and solos.

"The last time they performed on campus was during the Southern Arts Festival in the late 1990’s,” said Larry Panella, director of the jazz program at Southern Miss. “They have a rapport between them from having played together for over 30 years. That, coupled with their adventurous spirit, makes for some pretty heady musical conversations on stage."

Their work has earned much praise over the years. The Jazz Times calls them “New Orleans’ best kept secret for more than 20 years.” The Chicago Tribune says that they are “New Orleans’ greatest contemporary jazz band…a lean tough, rhythmically unyielding approach to improvisation.” Offbeat notes, “Astral Project is the finest modern jazz ensemble in New Orleans, and undoubtedly one of the most unique groups period.”

"Tony Dagradi (saxes), Steve Masakowski (guitar), James Singleton (bass), and Johnny Vidacovich (drums) are each outstanding on their own, but together it is an extraordinary musical adventure.” Panella continued. “Anyone who has seen them play once knows what I mean, and anyone who has seen them play twice knows each performance is really unique. They do not traffic in predictability."

This one-night-only special performance is presented free of charge for the Hattiesburg community by a special grant from Partners for the Arts. For more information, call 601.266.4047.