Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

May/June 2011: Wynton Marsalis (Festival Edition)

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Orleans Avenue

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Where to start with Trombone Shorty? Perhaps as a 3-year-old in New Orleans, playing “the world’s smallest trumpet.” Or a year later, marching in a street parade with a trombone twice as long as he was high—he got his nickname there and then. Or turning heads at 12 with a funk band in a New Orleans club. Or being scooped up to tour with Lenny Kravitz at 18. (“I want somebody with soul,” Kravitz said, doubtfully. “How can an 18-year-old kid have soul?”)

Or now, at 25, a sensation on both trumpet and trombone, and storming crowds with his own band, Orleans Avenue. Andrews’ technique and imagination are almost otherworldly—for proof, watch the cutting session with Wynton Marsalis (another New Orleans prodigy) on YouTube. They make sounds you can hardly hear!

The band runs everything—rock, R&B, funk, hip-hop—through a kind of jazz super-heater. “In our band we have people from different cultural backgrounds who listen to all kinds of different styles,” Andrews explains, “and when we get into our studio in New Orleans—we call it the Gumbo Room—we throw it all in and see how we can make it work as one thing, so that it’s not so left-field.” The resulting combination of skill, fearlessness, and insatiable curiosity has been galvanizing audiences all over North America.

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue made their major label debut last spring with Verve, and it was a knockout. Backatown held the #1 spot on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart for nine weeks, and remains in the top ten nearly a year later. It also snagged a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album.

Winnipeg is gonna love this band. I might need a double espresso to get up to speed, but I won’t miss this concert!

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