In the span of seven studio albums – the first three released on small independent label Tremé Records – Trombone Shorty has reached the pinnacle for a New Orleans musician.
Leading his 10-person band, Orleans Avenue, the trombonist and trumpeter – whose first name is Troy Andrews – continues on the path of transmitting the rich sounds, styles and heritage of New York music. Orleans to the rest of the world. It is a position that Andrews cherishes and treats with great respect.
“We come from a very magical place,” he said in a mid-August phone interview, “and to be able to do my part and continue to add to what the greats have done is something special. To be able to carry this torch… it’s just moving, like I carry this badge of honor in my heart. I stand on the shoulders of the people who help lift me up in this region.
It can be seen on the cover of his latest album, “Lifted”, in which 2-year-old Andrews is hoisted by his mother, Lois Nelson Andrews, to watch a second-line parade through bustling Tremé, listening to the sounds of jazz and R&B in the streets. Andrews, now 36, has spent three decades creating his own music and performing with others, all to celebrate the heart and soul of Crescent City.
His lineage with this music is deep; Andrews was born into one of the city’s leading musical families. His brother, James Andrews III – nicknamed Andrews Trombone Shorty – played trumpet in several notable brass bands, including the New Birth Brass Band. Known as “Satchmo of the Ghetto”, he now leads his own ensemble, James Andrews and the Crescent City Allstars.
His cousin, Glen David Andrews, a former trombonist with the Rebirth Brass Band, leads the Glen David Andrews Band. Andrews’ grandfather, Jessie Hill, was an R&B and jazz singer who had a hit single, “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” in 1960, and great uncle Walter “Papoose” Nelson performed with the pianist American rock-n-roll Fats Domino.
By age 4, Andrews had picked up his first trombone and showed an immediate aptitude for the instrument. That year, Bo Diddley spotted the young boy in a crowd at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and invited him on stage. Two years later, Andrews was playing with musicians in second-line parades and had his own band.
His teenage years came with opportunities to perform with R&B, soul and funk band – and iconic New Orleans descendants – The Neville Brothers. Subsequently, Andrews joined the Stooges Brass Band and attended the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts alongside close friend Jon Batiste (Andrews won a Grammy last spring for his contributions to the Batiste album “We Are” ).
A year after graduating from high school in 2004, he toured with Lenny Kravitz as a featured member of Kravitz’s horn section. By the end of 2005, he had released his first three albums under his stage name, Trombone Shorty.
Just like Andrews had been mentored by some of the city’s most important musicians, in 2011 he decided to give back in the same vein and started the non-profit Trombone Shorty Foundation. It has donated instruments to schools in New Orleans, offers a host of courses for high school students, offers scholarship opportunities, and offers internships to give students hands-on experience working with industry experts.
Also in the mid-2000s, the musician signed with Verve Records to release three albums – including 2010’s “Backatown”, 2011’s “For True” and 2013’s “Say That to Say This” – which propelled him onto the World Scene. It also landed him slots on tours with rock stalwarts the Foo Fighters, Hall & Oates and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Andrews has established a strong fanbase, with sounds that cross between jazz and funk, R&B and rock and hip-hop.
His status was further affirmed when Andrews was chosen to follow Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers as the closing act of the town’s famous annual Jazz & Heritage Festival – perhaps a musician’s greatest honor. of New Orleans can get.
“I’m just blessed that Quint Davis (producer and festival director) thought I was strong enough as a performer to take over this spot,” Andrews said. “We have hundreds of bands in New Orleans, and for him to think that I was willing to give myself this opportunity is incredible.”
Andrews’ worldwide popularity continued to grow. 2017’s “Parking Lot Symphony” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart and marked his debut under a new deal with Blue Note Records.
It took another five years before Andrews released “Lifted.” Produced by Chris Seefried (Fitz and The Tantrums, Andra Day), the LP was released at the end of April. It features funk, gospel, street beats and Mardi Gras chants, and features artists like singer Lauren Daigle and Texas guitarist Gary Clark Jr.
Andrews said he set aside some of the precision of his previous studio albums in favor of capturing more power and energy from a Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue live show.
“I didn’t play it safe,” Andrews said. “The big key point was: let’s play. Let’s not worry about the studio.
Normally, he said the band would come in, record, learn it as it is on the album, and then “reframe” it for the shows.
“But this album, I wanted to go there first,” Andrews said. “We went in and tried to get as much live sound as we could get in the studio while still making it as tight as possible.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue never seemed so powerful. The energy is evident from the first notes of the opening track, “Come Back”, balancing robust horns and assertive rhythms with a sweet R&B melody. There’s jazz and a bit of Earth, Wind and Fire soul on “Good Company” and “Everybody in the World,” while “What It Takes,” with sweet guest vocals from Lauren Daigle, blends pop and soul. Meanwhile, “I’m Standing Here” — featuring searing guitar leads from guest Gary Clark Jr. — and the title track bring gritty rock into the proceedings.
Several songs from “Lifted” feature on the current Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue tour. On a European tour earlier in the year, shows lasted two hours or more, and Andrews said that could happen again in the United States.
“We’re having so much fun on stage, we don’t really feel it until we hit the last note, and our bodies are all tired and battered,” he said. “We’re like, ‘Oh, we didn’t realize we’ve been playing that long.’ But, you know, when the audience, when the love is there between the audience and the musicians, it’s hard to keep the rhythm.
Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Avenue will perform at the Wilson Center (703 N 3rd St.) on Wednesday, August 31. Tickets are $25 or more.
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