Fricke's Picks: Astral Traveling

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Drummer John Vidacovich and bassist James Singleton are Jazz Fest vets. They played at the first one in 1970 (with the blind R&B singer Snooks Eaglin) and were back this year in their long-running modern-jazz quartet Astral Project with saxophonist Tony Dagradi and guitarist Steve Masakowski. But the hot set I got was at the Louisiana Music Factory (local-music experts and one of our nation's great record stores) to promote a fine new album, Blue Streak (Astral Project). It was a special gas to see the group in such tight focus. Vidacovich and Singleton popped and weaved with spidery elasticity and rifle-shot second-line rolls. Dagradi's knotty, charging "Blue Streak" and Masakowski's "North Wind" epitomized the group's unique resolution of earthy and airy — an ECM-style grace with New Orleans humidity that comes with the album too.