CMJ - 5/10/99, p.33
"...The group takes a variety of standard jazz forms...and stretches them into new and exciting shapes....near telepathic interplay between drummer Johnny Vidacovich, [guitarist Steve] Masokowski, saxist Tony Dagradi and keyboardist David Torkanowski..."
JazzTimes - 12/99, pp.139-40
"...A band agile enough to delight second liners in their native New Orleans and pass the bop test with jaded jazzbo New Yorkers...all within the same tune....Stylistically [the album] is all over the map. And Astral Project wouldn't have it any other way."
Astral Project: John Vidacovich (vocals, drums, percussion); Steve Masakowski (acoustic & 7-string guitars); Tony Dagradi (soprano & tenor saxophones); David Torkanowsky (piano, organ); James Singleton (bass).
Recorded at Kingsway Studios, New Orleans, Louisiana on December 28,29, & 30, 1999.
Personnel: Johnny Vidacovich (vocals, drums, percussion); Steve Masakowski (acoustic guitar); Tony Dagradi (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); David Torkanowsky (piano, organ).
Audio Mixers: Erik Flettrich; John Fischbach.
Recording information: Kingsway Studio, New Orleans, LA (12/28/1998-12/30/1998).
Photographers: Aim‚e Toledano; Clayton Call.
The members of New Orleans' Astral Project have careers as independent studio musicians, and the technical proficiency displayed here is unassailable. The fluid, Blue Note-influenced guitar tone of Steve Masakowski, the hard, funky bass of James Singleton, the lyrical sax of Tony Dagradi, the complex, dynamic drumming of John Vidacovich, and pianist David Torkanowsky's eccentric, yet sensitive, soulful approach combine to generate a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The tightness and dexterity of the ensemble astonishes throughout, especially considering the mercurial nature of the group's stylistic inclinations and the energy of its improvisatory interplay. Astral Project shifts from cool swing ("The Whole Truth") to smoky blues ("Southern Blue"), from free bop ("Fall Out") to smooth, saxophone-dominated jazz ("Smoke and Mirrors"), and from delicate, abstract melodies ("Sombras en la Noche") to hard-driving grooves ("Foxy Roxy"). As soon you begin to define the Project's music, it's shifted and morphed into something else. The compositions themselves are more than mere showcases for the band member's talents; the unfolding depth and complexity of these pieces will reward repeated listening.