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Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
On his third outing for Verve Records, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews further pushes the stylistic envelope with his genre-obliterating sound, a potent mélange of jazz, rock ’n’ roll, soul and other idioms Andrews absorbed as he honed his chops in the melting pot of New Orleans. Like its two predecessors, 2010’s Grammy-nominated Backatown and 2011’s For True, the new Say That to Say This, co-produced by Andrews and kindred spirit Raphael Saadiq, sounds like nothing else out there, as Andrews and his longtime band, Orleans Avenue—guitarist Pete Murano, Bassist Mike Ballard and drummer Joey Peebles—continue their natural musical evolution. In a very real sense, the torch is passed from one great New Orleans band to another on the new album, which features the first new studio recording from the original members of the legendary Meters in 36 years, as they revisit their 1977 classic “Be My Lady,” with Andrews singing lead and playing horns.
The bandleader and multi-instrumentalist describes Say That to Say This as “really funky, like James Brown mixed with the Meters and Neville Brothers, with what I do on top, And we have a bit of R&B from Raphael’s side. All the guys in my band are big, big fans of his, so this is a real dream come true for us. And he’s a fan of New Orleans brass band music, which I didn’t know beforehand. Just listening to his music and the direction he’s going in now, I thought that he would be perfect to work with us.
The title, Andrews explains, is a common New Orleans expression that essentially means “To make a long story short,” serving as a wonderfully on-point description of the album and of Trombone Shorty’s music in general. “This record is a direct expression of everything we hear, everything we’ve seen and everything we’ve been through musically,” Andrews assets. “We’re just making a long story short.”
Since the release of the For True, which spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart, Andrews has recorded with an eclectic assortment of artist ranging from Zac Brown to Rod Stewart to Cee Lo Green, while taking the time to initiate a mentoring program at Tulane University via his Trombone Shorty Foundation. He’s appeared on the covers of Downbeat and Jazziz magazines, performed on Conan, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and the band was chosen to play the closing set at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a huge honor in the world of true music lovers.
But for Andrews, the biggest thrill of all was performing at The White House in February. “That was a dream come true about 50 times over,” he says. “When we started playing, I forgot I was at the White House because I was on stage with all this musical royalty—B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Booker T. Jones, Jeff Beck, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Gary Clark Jr., the list goes on. And then, when I turned to the audience, there’s the President and the First Lady. I’m like, ‘This can’t be happening.’”
Good things continue to happen for Trombone Shorty, thanks to his virtuosity, charisma and relentless drive to bridge music’s past and future. That he pursues his passion with such humility and unpretentiousness makes his still-unfolding story as compelling as the music he’s making along the way.