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Tony Dagradi | Gemini Rising

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United States - Louisiana

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Jazz: Acid Jazz World: World Fusion Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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Gemini Rising

by Tony Dagradi

Tony Dagradi, performs on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones in exquisite multi-layered arrangements which cover the gamut from World fusion to funk to post bop to second line. Just saxophone and drums; what could be better?
Genre: Jazz: Acid Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. The Wheel
4:35 $0.99
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2. Sweet Faced Lie
5:01 $0.99
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3. Mandela
4:22 $0.99
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4. Sohana Sha Kirpal
3:45 $0.99
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5. Gemini Rising
4:44 $0.99
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6. Monk's Mood
3:49 $0.99
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7. Spherical
4:44 $0.99
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8. Sweet Remembrance
3:34 $0.99
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9. Cannonball
4:15 $0.99
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10. Tango
3:35 $0.99
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11. Glory
4:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
TONY DAGRADI
GEMINI RISING

With the release of “Gemini Rising,” Tony Dagradi offers up an engaging album in which he layers various saxophones to create dense textures and surprisingly robust arrangements. In fact, the entire saxophone family, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone are used by Tony to throw down all of the melodic and harmonic content. The only other elements in the orchestration are the addition of some of New Orleans’ finest drummers; John Vidacovich, Herlin Riley and Troy Davis.

“Gemini Rising” features ten original compositions and a cover of Thelonious Monk’s rhapsodic “Monk’s Mood.” About half of the tunes found here have never been recorded before. The remaining numbers will be familiar to listeners who have followed Tony’s work with the eminent contemporary jazz quartet, Astral Project. However, with the new perspective gained from a musical fabric made up entirely of saxophones and drums, all of the pieces sound revitalized and fresh.

The tunes themselves cover a wide range of styles. “The Wheel” and “Mandela” draw upon African rhythmic and harmonic sensibilities. “Sweet Faced Lie” evokes the heavy shuffle back beat of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The title cut has been covered before by many artists, most notably the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Here, Tony gives “Gemini Rising” a funky edge with plenty of energy. “Spherical” and “Cannonball,” both extended blues forms, incorporate second line grooves that are masterfully driven by Vidacovich and Riley respectively. “Monk’s Mood,” “Sohana Sha Kirpal” and “Sweet Remembrance” show off the saxophonist’s lyrical nature with the most elegant and romantic playing of the date. The authentic and humorous ensemble playing on “Tango” is one of the highlights of the CD.

Tony is most well known for his work on tenor and soprano saxophones. And, you hear him on these horns to great advantage. His soloing on tenor, especially, encompasses a wide swath of the history of jazz. He moves effortlessly from a hard edged attitude on “The Wheel” and “Sweet Faced Lie” to the more blues drenched statements found on “Cannonball” and Gemini Rising.” His moving ballad style is on display for “Sohana Sha Kirpal” and the lush “Monk’s Mood.” In contrast to his deep throated tenor, Tony’s soprano tends to be more intricate and serpentine. “Tango,” “Gemini Rising” and “Spherical” all feature dramatic statements that utilize the timbre and range of the smaller instrument.

This CD marks the first time that Tony has recorded on either alto or baritone saxophone. For this recording he utilizes the baritone primarily as the bass voice. His tone is appropriately gruff and virile holding down the groove with sure footed aplomb. The alto, most often used throughout as a lead instrument within the ensemble. is the featured solo voice on “The Wheel” and “Glory.” Both of these vehicles feature Tony playing the instrument with conviction and emotion.

In describing his approach to the individual saxes, Tony says, “You know, each horn is very different. Just because they are all saxophones and have the same fingerings doesn’t mean you can just move from one to the other effortlessly. Each one requires a different attitude sonically, requiring time and effort finding the right equipment, the right embouchure, the right reeds, etc. A lot of time must be spent considering what kind of sound you want to get and striving to find a way to achieve it.”

Throughout the recording the drummer’s distinctive personalities are evident and contribute much to the overall feel and groove of individual tracks. Herlin Riley offers up several world fusion grooves that propel and inspire the “The Wheel” and “Mandela.” Then, turns around and gets as funky as can be for the “Gemini Rising” and “Cannonball.” The incomparable, John Vidacovich lays down some serious second line on “Spherical” and a provides a perfect backdrop for all the shapes and textures in “Tango.” Troy Davis burns it up on “Sweet Faced Lie,” and contributes a dangerous pocket and some exciting fills on “Glory.”

“Gemini Rising” is a unique personal statement for Tony Dagradi that showcases his skills and talents as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist. As he mentions in his liner notes, a lot of the inspiration for this project specifically came from the work of vocal acrobat, Bobby McFerrin. Tony has worked with Bobby in the past and professes to wanting to emulate the singer’s “multi-layered creations” using his own voice. “I also feel that this recording is in many ways a new beginning for me. I can already see how I would like to expand on the concepts contained here. I’ve already started on a sequel which I envision as being even more varied in terms of texture and orchestration.”

Saxophones and drums; what could be better.

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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.

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.

“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





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