[New Orleans, LA ::: b. 1952 - Queens, NY]


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

For over three decades he has made his home in New Orleans, performing on tenor and soprano saxophone with many of the Crescent City’s celebrated artists.   He is most well-known for his work with Astral Project, an adventurous quartet of top New Orleans players dedicated to playing cutting-edge improvisational music.  His performing past also includes five years as a member of the internationally acclaimed Carla Bley and appearances and recordings with Bobby McFerrin, Mose Allison and Nat Adderley.


Since 2015, Tony has been exploring the visual possibilities of altered books. Choosing vintage and antiquarian texts, he carefully cuts through one page at a time utilizing existing images to create a three-dimensional collage or sculpture. The results allow the contents and imagery of long outdated material to be viewed in a manner that is both exciting and thought provoking.



My decades long career in contemporary jazz directly informs my work as a visual artist.  Music, for me, has always had a visual component, with the diverse elements of music suggesting colors, shapes and textures.  The juxtaposition of abstract shapes which come together as I work on a book, is very much how I perceive the interplay of melody, harmony and rhythm.

Improvisation is also key to my approach in both genres.  Within a jazz ensemble, each player is responsible for an individual part which must support and inspire the other musicians.  In the heat of the moment, unexpected phrases or motivic ideas can affect surprising new directions for the collective ensemble.  Similarly, the tension and harmony which naturally occur as I uncover each new image unfailingly impacts the whole and often shifts the form and concept of the emerging composition.  


Cutting through each book page by page to expose selected subject matter is primarily a subtractive process.  However, I often choose to reserve certain images for later use.  This too is comparable to the open-ended conversation on the bandstand and provides me with control over the development of each piece.

I prefer working with vintage books and encyclopedias.  The eclectic photos and illustrations represent material that is long out of date yet offer a fascinating window into our past.  Ultimately, I hope to provide a perspective on the transitory nature of what earlier generations understood to be factual and offer insight into the way ever evolving media has shaped contemporary perspectives.


[download full CV below]

1988 - 90 MFA, Tulane University
1985 - 86 BM Loyola University
1970 - 72 Berklee College of Music

1990 - present Profeessor of Saxophone Loyola University
1987 - 90 Instructor of Music Theory Tulane University
1987 - 88 Instructor of Saxophone Loyola University

2018 Books Transposed, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA
2017 Open Call, Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA
2017 Art of the Book, Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
2017 Codex Book Fair & Symposium, Craneway Pavilion, Richmond CA


2017  No Dead Artists, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans, LA