Since he was nineteen, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has been recognized decorated, and lionized by his peers and the public all over the planet. Born in New Orleans, Shorty and his nonet musical ark, including two drummers, two guitarists, two saxophonists, two female vocalists and a heaven- and earth-shaking bassist, are a joyous juggernaut of steaming funky fury.
He is not only a boss on the ‘bone but a torrent on the trumpet, too.
Monstrous showstoppers, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue have opened for, in the shows I have seen, Hall and Oates, Sharon Jones and, last night, Ben Harper. Who, I ask, would want to follow them? There is no let up, no slow stuff. Just Blast, Blaster, Blastest. They threw dynamics - the conventional fast song, slow song, fast song sequence - into the adjacent Boston Harbor. Even when Shorty, the tenor and baritone sax players were rhapsodizing together all over the musical map (without the rhythm section), you still had to hold onto your hat. Tonight the rumor is he was sliding and churning so sweetly that he blew the toupee off a gentleman’s head seated in the front row. They say it landed perfectly, just so, on a female accountant’s head in the sixth or seventh row, depending on which story you heard.
Reminiscent of early Chicago Transit Authority at its most energetic, the Bar Kays and Tower Of Power, their music is sexy, sizzling, move mountains, plate shifting, jaw-jutting, head butting, last-night-of-your-life glorious. And with the ladies shouting and harmonizing, gyrating and undulating, the band is relentlessly rousing. The audience stands the whole set through.
Whether Shorty is singing, playing, orchestrating or cheerleading, he seems poised to burst. There must be a fire engine on call near the stage, one with a long hose, because this phenom is going to self-immolate one night soon. Just implode into ash and spread himself across the universe.
On a late-August shirt-sleeve night by the sea, this Southern-fried seventy-five minutes of humping, pumping, foot stomping, high-stepping celebration of life heals all that ails. With his Sly Stone family-style revival a hooting howling hollering success, the sweaty smiling Shorty raises his holy grails, his trombone and trumpet, triumphantly over his head and, like the magician he is, vanishes into the good night.
The firemen can go home.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue are coming for your soul. Surrender and be liberated.
A few impressive accomplishments from the resume of this extraordinary artist and philanthropist. Fortunate to be born (in 1986) in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans into a clan of professional musicians, Troy Andrews first appeared on stage at age 4 with rock pioneer Bo Diddley. By 2005, while still a teenager, he toured the world as a member of Lenny Kravitz’s horn section.
His first album, Backatown, released in 2010, was No. 1 for nine straight weeks on Billboard magazine’s Contemporary Jazz Chart. Riding the success of that project, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue toured across Australia, North America, Europe, Japan and Brazil. In that same year or thereabouts - talk about being busy and in demand - he performed on the very best of U.S. late night tv shows, those of Conan, Kimmel, Leno and Letterman, as well as Austin City Limits.
At an NFL playoff game in 2012 between the N.Y. Giants and Atlanta Falcons, he performed the National Anthem. In that same year, as part of Black History Month, he performed at the White House with luminaries B.B King, Jeff Beck, Keb Mo, Mick Jagger, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. At the 56th Grammy Awards in 2014, at halftime of the 2014 NBA All-Star Game and, not least, twice in 2015 in the White House at the invitation of President Obama.
As frosting on the cake, he signed with legendary Blue Note Records in 2017.
Finally (not really), his Trombone Shorty Foundation is fostering and preserving the priceless legacy of New Orleans music by donating musical instruments in that beloved musical mecca.