Books Transposed


Tony Dagradi: “Books Transposed”
at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
26 February-30 March 2018

“Books Transposed” is the debut solo exhibition of New Orleans artist Tony Dagradi. Perhaps best known for his musical talents as a Grammy-award-winning jazz saxophonist, Dagradi began, in 2015, to apply his methodologies of jazz composition to visual creations using his collection of antique books. The final products are sculptural collages, which act as a sort of visual summary of the book-in-question’s contents.

The artist elaborates on the correlation between his music and visual artwork:
“My decades long career in contemporary jazz directly inform my work as a visual artist. Music, for me, has always had a visual component, with the diverse elements of music suggesting colours, 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 occurs 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 greater 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 The eclectic photos and illustrations represent material that is long out of date; yet offer a fascinating window into our past.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.”

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 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 quintet made up of top New Orleans players dedicated to playing cutting-edge improvisational music. In addition, for over twenty-five years, he has been a Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at Loyola University in New Orleans.

(adapted from the gallery’s press materials)


Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
400A Julia Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130 USA
(504) 522-5471

Monday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM
and by appointment


Image: top
by Tony Dagradi
hardcover book, acrylic varnish
Courtesy of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans