Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue

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Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue have roots in jazz’s birthplace

:: Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue ::
:: Fox Theatre :: July 30 ::
:: Sunset Concert Series (Telluride) :: August 5 ::
:: Jazz Aspen Snowmass :: August 6 ::
:: Larimer Lounge :: August 7 ::

By Karen Maye

For Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, it was never a question of if he would play music, it was more a question of when he’d be grown enough so his arms would be able to reach all of the positions of the slide.

“I didn’t really have a choice; I started playing when I was 3 or 4 years old,” Andrews told The Marquee in a recent interview. “My brother kind of gave me a trombone and that was it.”

Troy Andrews was raised in the Treme district of New Orleans’ 6th Ward, birthplace of Louis Armstrong and — as some people consider it — the birthplace of jazz. Growing up surrounded by music and the unflagging support of his family, (most specifically his brother James, the trumpeter known as “Satchmo of the Ghetto”) were key components in Andrew’s musical success.  Equally adept on both the trumpet and trombone, Andrews is a force to be reckoned with on both instruments, and has been for some time. At the age of 6, Andrews was bandleader of Trombone Shorty’s Brass Band. Before they even had instruments, Andrews was rallying neighborhood kids, marching down the street with cardboard box “snare drums,” plastic soda bottles, and a “big wheel tuba,” pretending to be a brass band.

His stage name “Trombone Shorty” was coined by his older brother one day when Troy was playing at the jazz funeral of Louis Nelson. He was standing next to his trombone (about twice his size at the time) and James yelled out “Trombone Shorty!” and it stuck.
Andrews was a proficient trombonist by the first grade, and in eighth grade he auditioned for the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and was admitted a year early. A club fixture before he started high school, he was playing in a club one night at the age of 12 when Bono and The Edge of U2 walked in.

“I remember something like that, but I didn’t know who they were at the time,” Andrews said. “As I grew older I got more into their music and I didn’t even know that they knew that I existed.” Years later, he would share the stage with U2 and Green Day at the reopening of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. “It was a dream come true and one of my goals achieved — just to share the stage with Green Day and U2,” he said. “I think the people of New Orleans realize that the music plays a major part in their lives and when they couldn’t get it after the storm they realized how important it was,” said Andrews.

Andrews’s current touring troupe is Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, a seven piece group with seeds sown at NOCCA. It includes Mike Ballard on bass, Pete Murano on guitar, Joey Peebles on drums, Dwayne Williams on percussion, Dan Oestreicher on baritone sax, and Clarence Slaughter on tenor sax. The music transcends boundaries of generation and classification, and is a high-octane mix of funk, rock, pop, and hip-hop — a sound that the band calls “Supafunkrock.”

In 2005, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue released the single “Orleans and Claiborne” on New Orleans’ Treme Records label. “It represents us and where we’re trying to go musically,” Andrews said. “It’s also a dedication to a particular intersection in New Orleans. Orleans and Claiborne, which is where a bunch of Mardi Gras Indians meet up on Mardi Gras day, and we decided to take a brass band type riff and put it over a funk beat and put our interpretation on it.”

Recently, the band released a five song digital EP drop card, recorded live at the famed Tipitina’s on February 22, 2009. Andrews didn’t want to rely on traditional methods of distribution, so he instead chose a more grass roots, environmentally friendly, digital route for his music with the drop card. “I didn’t want to make a CD and print them up and everything,” Andrews said. “I just wanted to do something that you can only get at the show.”

Amidst a seemingly non-stop touring schedule, the band is currently working on an album at Galactic studios in New Orleans. “We’ve put a bunch of songs down so we just have to keep tweaking them and writing some more,” Andrews said. “We just want to develop a catalog of 50 or 60 songs so in the end we can choose from a lot.”

That love and dedication to the music, as well as Andrew’s showmanship, can be credited to his days as a busker in Jackson Square, a famous landmark walking mall. “That was the most important and memorable time of my life” he said.  “Every day I got a chance to play with my friends … growing as musicians with some of my childhood friends, all figuring out things together.”

:: Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue ::
:: Fox Theatre :: July 30 ::
:: Sunset Concert Series (Telluride) :: August 5 ::
:: Jazz Aspen Snowmass :: August 6 ::
:: Larimer Lounge :: August 7 ::

Recommended if you Like:
• Galactic
• Dirty Dozen Brass Band
• Rebirth Brass Band

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for letting the Front Range know about one of the best young bands and band leaders coming out of New Orleans. Please do yourself a favor and go see these guys, you will not be let down I promise you that.

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