TONY DAGRADI is an internationally recognized jazz performer, artist, composer, author and educator.

For nearly four decades he has made his home in New Orleans, performing on tenor and soprano saxophone with many of the Crescent City's most celebrated artists, including Ellis Marsalis, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, James Booker, The Meters, Dr. John, James Black, Johnny Adams and Gatemouth Brown.  An accomplished classical performer as well, he's often called upon to augment the woodwind section of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.  His performing past also includes five years as a member of the internationally acclaimed Carla Bley Band and appearances and recordings with Bobby McFerrin, Mose Allison and Nat Adderley.

Dagradi is most well known for his work with Astral Project, an adventurous quartet 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

Downbeat (December 2014)  

Four Stars

On first listen, Tony Dagradi’s Gemini Rising sounds simply like a New Orleans ensemble hitting its stride with equal parts grace, grit and gumbo.  But wait a minute - this is a horns-and-drums band only.  Master saxophonist Dagradi performs on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, layering his horns (up to 10 in a tune) with the accompaniment of three New Orleans Drummers: Herlin Riley, Johnny Vidacovich and Troy Davis.  It’s amazing that essentially two musicians  (per track) and technology can…

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ST (Saxophone Today - Nov/Dec 2014)  

Tony Dagradi’s recent release, "Gemini Rising," is a unique recording of original compositions, and one Monk composition (Monk’s Mood) performed by a section of saxophones (all played by Dagradi) and only drums.  Joined by some fo the busiest working drummers in New Orleans, John Vidacovich, Herlin Riley and Troy Davis, the music on the CD overflows with rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic energy.

A mainstay on the New Orleans music scene for over thirty years, Dagradi has not only performed with some the city’s…

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Jazz Inside - Gemini Rising 

Gemini Rising is a unique entry in Tony Dagradi’s discography. For this project of mostly original music, Dagradi overdubbed on four of his horns and is just joined by one of three different drummers. After hearing one selection, it is obvious that nothing is missing and the results are quite simulating and spirited. 

Tony Dagradi has long been one of the leading modern jazz performers based in New Orleans. Normally he is heard on tenor and soprano. Among the many artists with whom he has performed are Ellis…

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Gemini Rising - Offbeat Magazine 

In the late '80s, Tony Dagradi played and recorded with the New Orleans Saxophone Ensemble, an all-star group that was modeled after the internationally renowned World Saxophone Quartet.  It included the late Earl Turbinton and Fred Kemp plus baritone saxophonist Roger Lewis.

Gemini Rising uses a similar concept though with a major twist.  Dagradi performs all the horn parts - soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones - accompanied by a single drummer.  Herlin Riley, Johnny Vidacovich and Troy Davis take…Read more

Astral Project At New Orleans Jazz Fest 2013 

Astral Project first played New Orleans Jazz Fest in 1978. And this savvy, virtuosic quartet has been bringing its well-honed modern jazz ideas to the Fair Grounds ever since. On Friday at the Jazz Tent, the quartet showed that the young lions of decades past haven't lost their roar, their teeth, or the feline grace of their improvisations.

Reedman Tony Dagradi still runs harmonic mazes with aplomb. (On tenor, Dagradi is virile and fleet, on soprano he's a pastoral piper - take your pick).

Guitarist Steve…Read more

Saxophone Journal 

November/December 2012 Vol. 37, No. 2

New Saxophone Publications by David Demsey

Sax Solos Over Jazz Standards: Book-CD set
Recommended for: musicians who already have some knowledge of jazz theory, but are struggling to unlock their own “true voice” as a composer or improviser   Tony Dagradi has a long reputation as a major-league modernist tenor player. He has for years been on the faculty of Loyola University in New Orleans, and has played with the best of that city’s legendary musicians as well as Carla… Read more

Sax Solos Over Jazz Standards 

Today, I would like to introduce “Sax Solos Over Jazz Standards,” a new book and play along CD which was just released by Jamey Aebersold’s Jazz Books. My goal in producing this music was to present sophisticated and balanced melodic statements based on standard changes which could serve as superior models for practice and study. While these solos are carefully and painstakingly ‘composed,’ each is designed to evoke the spirit of an improvised performance.
At the core of any investigation into the art of…Read more

Interview With Tony Dagradi 

Astral Project is often called the best contemporary jazz band in New Orleans, with good reason. They play with the cohesion of a band that’s been together fordecades, andthe passion of youngsters. Their music is at times outside, inside, funkified, and even a bit sanctified.
Tony Dagradi is the leader of the group. Playing a number of saxophones, he can surprise a jaded listener by taking the soprano sax places smooth jazzers have never dreamed about.

I had a chance to talk with Dagradi by phone from his New…Read more

Tony Dagradi Sextet Plays Kind Of Blue 

On March 5, 2009, in Roussell Hall at Loyola University in New Orleans, the Tony Dagradi Sextet featuring Jamelle Williams on trumpet, Rex Gregory on alto, Michael Pellera on piano, Roland Guerin on bass and Troy Davis on drums re-created the music from Miles Davis' landmark recording, "Kind Of Blue."

Click here to see a Vimeo recording of the event.

Tony Dagradi’s Sextet opened the show on Thursday, March 5th, at Loyola’s beautiful Roussel Performance Hall. The sextet performed the music of Miles Davis’…Read more

Tony Dagradi Organ Trio 

It’d be tough for anyone to possibly enjoy playing their instrument more than drummer Simon Lott does. Watch Lott a few times and you’ll notice that a distinct full-body grinignites even as he approaches the kit. By the time he plays the first note, his face is aglow with rapturous delight that infects all those around him–players and listeners alike.
Tonight’s lucky subjects included duo-mate Brian Coogan(organ) and Astral Project’s Tony Dagradi(tenor and soprano sax). The last two times this trio performed…Read more

Tony Dagradi endorses Selmer Saxophones and Silverstein Products:

SAX SOLOS VOL. 2 - MODAL CLASSICS was released in the summer of 2016 by Jamey Aebersold's JAZZBOOKS.com. The material included examines advanced concepts for improvising over the most important modal compositions of the twentieth century.  Check the "Books" page for more information.  
The fourth in a series of five original e-books by David Lasocki about New Orleans' legendary contemporary jazz group, Astral Project. 
"The amount of information and understanding David Lasocki has brought together in all of the books in this series is mind boggling. I canʼt think of any other texts that document the evolution of a contemporary jazz ensemble with such insight and amazing attention to detail.  The interviews and musical revelations really give the reader a unique perspective into the inter-personal workings of the band as well as its musical development." - Tony Dagradi

“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 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." - AllMusic, Michael G. Nastos

"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