of the top instrumental jazz fusion groups ever to come out of Long
Island, N.Y.Ad Astra features the guitar prowess of the always
impressive Joe Nardulli. Putting the prog seal of approval
on the proceedings, guitar icon Carl Roa is credited with co-producer
chores and the album has a similar kind of musical vibe as his group
Magic Elf. Listening to Nardulli getting solid backup from David
Penna (drums), Eric Davis (keyboards) and J. Levine
(bass), one could compare Ad Astra to a kind of 21st century Return
To Forever (mid '70s with DiMeola) but with a solid Allan Holdsworth
/ Steve Morse inspired vision. Even so, the best stuff here has a
definite melodic end game, even when coupled with the daredevil fusion
pyrotechnics. Instrumental rock, from Long Island and beyond, hits
a new high with Ad Astra. Nardulli and company took the stage at the
Wave venue on August 28, 2009. Lets hope Ad Astra continue to
break new group in the realm of jazz-based instrumental rock. www.AdAstraBand.com
MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents JOE NARDULLI
Guitars Center Stage
Guitarists making waves in the music world,
their new recordings and gear!
Ive been playing guitar for over 30 years now, starting
in elementary school when they offered a guitar class. I took a few
years of lessons after that but never got serious enough to continue.
I focused mostly on my school studies and when it came to guitar I
picked up what I could from radio and records.
As much as I liked music, I knew early on that it probably wouldnt
pay the bills so I got my engineering degree and once I got a steady
job, I kicked my guitar playing into high gear and became a better
player. Having always been drawn to coming up with song ideas when
playing, most of my practice time was dedicated to creativity rather
than technique. Now granted, I have some technical ability on the
instrument but Ive been playing for a looooong time! I found
my compositional abilities begin to take shape and I got myself a
sequencer and started writing full songs with drums, bass, and keyboards
backing up my guitar playing. The compositional process came relatively
easy to me and although I had no knowledge of music theory, I was
able to come up with some interesting chord progressions over odd-time
rhythms. The key for me though was to come up with strong melodies
on top of it all to maintain a sense of song.
2003 I was encouraged by Carl Roa of the band Magic Elf to record
a bunch of the songs I had written with my sequencer. With his background
as an accomplished and schooled musician, I was surprised he thought
enough of the material to want to help me record it and the result
was my debut CD: Joe Nardulli. I got a pretty good response
from it despite it not being a full band recording. I also went out
with my sequencer and guitar and started playing the material live.
Most of the e-mails and comments I got from people talked about how
they really enjoyed the songs and arrangements; that it wasnt
just a bunch of noodling and wanking on the guitar, but real song-craft.
I was also very satisfied that people heard the positive, uplifting
vibe I tried to evoke with the musica testament to my Christian
faith. So, I decided to put a band together and was really blessed
to find some great players very quickly. Eric Davis on keyboardsI
met him while he was on line at a sold out Steve Morse show. I didnt
have a ticket and for some reason, out of all the people there, I
walked up to him and asked if he had an extra one. It just so happened
he did and weve been friends ever since. J Levine on bass, approached
me after one of my live-with-a-sequencer shows and we
hit it off right away. David Penna on drumsEric knew him from
work and we all really enjoy playing together and writing tunes. We
started out as the Joe Nardulli Band but the ego-trip
isnt really my thing and I insisted we name the band. We went
with AD ASTRA, inspired by the last track on the Joe Nardulli CD,
Ad Astra Per Aspera NASAs latin motto meaning
To the stars through difficulty.
We recorded AD ASTRA at Carl Roas studio and the response has
been very satisfying. Some of the e-mails we get, from all over the
world, are very humbling. Im really glad that people get it.
I played a Washburn Strat shaped guitar with two humbuckers,
for 19 years before the frets got so low it was unplayable. I recorded
the Joe Nardulli CD and did a few shows with that guitar but
I really needed something new. I went with a guitar I dreamed about
for 10 years, a Brian Moore C55. These are custom shop guitars made
in Upstate New York and I used them exclusively on the AD ASTRA CD.
I have three of them now. Whats interesting is that they feel
very much like the Washburn I played for a long time as they have
almost identical neck profiles and frets. These are Mahogany body,
Maple top, Rosewood fingerboard guitars with Wilkinson tremolos. All
three of them have a Piezo bridge for acoustic sounds and one of them
also includes a 13-pin MIDI system for driving synthesizers. They
are very high-tech guitars made with old-world craftsmanship sensibilities.
What I find interesting is that most players I talk to go through
so many guitars of the same brand and model to find the one.
My three Brian Moores are so consistent in feel and quality
that, blindfolded, I cant tell which of the three Im playing.
I string them with 0.010s, either Ernie Ball or DAddario.
Ive been using the same amp since 1987, a MESA/Boogie Mark II-C.
I used this amp exclusively on the AD ASTRA CD. I dont use any
effects pedals live or in the studio, my guitar goes straight into
the amp. Im partial to the MESA/Boogie line and also have a
Studio 22+, Simul 295 and Simul 2:90 power amps and a Formula preamp.
For a great direct sound, I really like the SansAmp Classic pedal.
For effects in a live situation, I use a Lexicon LXP-5 in the preamps
effects loop for reverb, delay and modulation sounds. I keep it really
simple on stage and only have an A/B box, a tuner and a MIDI switching
pedal in front of me. In the studio, all effects were handled via
the DAW software.
For acoustic sounds, the Brian Moores Piezo bridge is treated
with a SansAmp Acoustic DI pedal. I also have a Godin Multiac Nylon
string acoustic guitar which has a 13-pin MIDI pickup to drive synthesizers.
I hope to explore more possibilities with that guitar in the future.
early influences were Jimmy Page, Randy Rhoads and Alex Lifeson. Ill
never forget hearing The Immigrant Song for the first
time and being totally floored by it. That power and raw energy sent
a tingle up and down my spine. I fully immersed myself in the Zeppelin
catalog and always enjoyed their more progressive songs. Presence
is my favorite album by them. I liked Randy Rhoads for his tone and
melodic phrasing. Of course, Rush was the first truly progressive
rock band that I got into. I wore out the grooves on Permanent
Waves and Exit Stage Left. After I graduated college
and got a full-time job I got more serious about the guitar. It was
during this time that I was heavily influenced by Steve Morse, Eric
Johnson and Shawn Lanes Powers of Ten era work. I was
also listening to a lot of progressive rock (Queensryche, Kings
X) and fusion (Tribal Tech, Mike Stern). I found that what I liked
most about my influences was their song-writing style. Yes, they were
of course great players, but their songs, arrangements and melodic
ideas are what really endeared me to them.
The band is currently doing live shows to support the AD ASTRA
CD. Weve also started writing new material and have a goal to
introduce a new song into the set every couple of shows. Because we
play locally, were in front of the same crowd a lot so we want
to give them something new to listen to and reason to come to keep
coming to the shows. Theyre always excited to hear the new tunes.
We plan on recording a follow up CD and have a lot of song ideas.
Everyones involved in the writing process and we work out the
arrangements together during rehearsals. The compositional process
is my favorite part of our rehearsals and its great to finish
up a tune and play it live for the first time. Weve been invited
to play other cities and stretch out and we hope to do that as well.
A two week east coast tour has long been a dream of mine. And then
a west coast one too
You can check us out at the following websites: