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Trombone Shorty Knows What the Crowd Wants

December 10th, 2012

Trombone Shorty – Terminal 5 – December 8, 2012


Trombone Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, has a reputation as an electric performer. And why shouldn’t he? Andrews hails from New Orleans, where his grandfather, Jesse Hill, played with such legends as Professor Longhair and Huey “Piano” Smith. His older brother, James Andrews, is an accomplished trumpet player who has gigged with the likes of Quincy JonesDizzy Gillespie and Dr. John. Shorty, for his part, impressed at an early age. At six years old, he was leading his own band, and in his late teens and early twenties he had already performed with Lenny KravitzGreen Day and U2. He’s also made cameos on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and, of course, HBO’s Treme, which chronicles post-Katrina New Orleans.

But a solid résumé means nothing without an equally solid performance, and Trombone Shorty blew this criterion out of the water on Saturday night at Terminal 5. From the very first note, Andrews and his band, Orleans Avenue, sounded tight, funky and heavy all at once. Each player throughout the night demonstrated his overwhelming chops. Pete Murano absolutely shredded on guitar, displaying an incredible proficiency within range of styles from funk to jazz to metal, and “Uncle” Dan Oestreicher shined on a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” Andrews, though, is a wizard onstage, audibly and visually. He switched with ease between trombone and trumpet, absolutely destroying every song in his path. He also made sure all eyes were on him, often throwing his arms in the air like Maximus in Gladiator. In truth, we were quite entertained.

It’s entirely clear that Andrews knows exactly what the crowd wants. He teased and covered eclectic songs like “Minnie the Moocher” and “I Got a Woman.” The band expertly weaved through a hip-hop medley of “Slow Motion,” “Shake Ya Ass,” “Let Me Clear My Throat” and “Give It Away” to choreographed stepping, complete with head whipping, which the crowd aptly mimicked. When the group was called back for an encore, they played New Orleans favorites “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Treme Song.” “Who dat!” he screamed as the New Orleans–tinged audience responded with their hometown’s unofficial cheer. On the very last tune, everyone switched instruments and played something ostensibly outside of their comfort zone: Andrews moved to drums, Murano blew a sax, bassist Mike Ballard picked up the trumpet and so on. It was as if they needed to prove to us that, without a doubt, they could do anything. That wasn’t necessary, though. They had already done more than enough to satisfy. —Alex Kapelman

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com