For over three decades Tony Dagradi has made his home in New Orleans, performing on tenor and soprano sax with many of the Crescent City's most celebrated artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Allen Toussaint, James Booker, The Meters, Dr. John, James Black, Johnny Adams and Gatemouth Brown. An internationally recognized performer, composer, author and educator, he's often called upon to augment the woodwind section of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. His performing past includes five years as a member of the internationally acclaimed Carla Bley band and appearances with Bobby McFerrin, Mose Allison and Nat Adderly.
Dagradi is most well known for his work with Astral Project, an adventurous quintet made up of top New Orleans players dedicated to playing cutting-edge improvisational music. Over the years the band has performed throughout the world, garnering universal praise as one of the most innovative, compelling jazz bands anywhere. For more information on Astral Project click here to visit the band website.
Since 1990 Dagradi has been a Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at Loyola University in New Orleans where he maintains a large saxophone studio, teaches classes in improvisation, and directs various ensembles. To learn more about the music program at Loyola click here.
To see a transcription of this performance click here.
“Tony Dagradi is the optimal front man. His singing tenor and soprano saxophone style is a compendium of jazz history, blending the verbose blues of CannonballAdderley with more current “outside” trends.”
- James Rozzi, Jazziz
“Dagradi is one of the best unacknowledged tenors around.”
- Mike Fish, Wired Magazine
"Tony Dagradi runs harmonic mazes with aplomb. (On tenor, Dagradi is virile and fleet, on soprano he's a pastoral piper - take your pick)."
- Chris Waddington, NOLA.com
“A fiercely compelling improviser (and) an accomplished composer.”
- Bill Milkowski, Downbeat
“…spiritually intense tenor.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
"Dagradi wrings each note for all its is worth, striving for simplicity as he makes each solo a song unto itself." – Gene Kalbacher, New Jersey Notes
“Dagradi plays with exuberance and power.” – Cadence
“Dagradi’s technique on soprano and especially tenor is evocative and exultant. Like so many tenor players, Dagradi speaks of a period when he was ‘totally immersed in Trane.’ To his credit, the…saxophonist manages to capture the spiritual strength Coltrane so elegantly epitomized.”
- Norman Provizer, Jazziz
“One gets the impression, when listening to Dagradi, of being in the presence of a great storyteller and the music asserts that feeling. More than anything else Dagradi gives the essence of freedom and fire without a feeling of too much looseness. Also, it is important to mention Dagradi’s strong feel for rhythm. He makes it his own, including a great control of dynamics…a highly gifted and uncompromising saxophonist.”
- Tim Price, Saxophone Journal