SM PIER — Since the release of their Grammy®-nominated 2010 debut album, “Backatown,” Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue have grown creatively while winning hordes of new fans performing nonstop on five continents.
Their latest album, “For True,” offers substantive proof of their explosive growth, further refining the signature sound Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has dubbed “Supafunkrock.”
Get a dose of what he has to offer Thursday, Aug. 29 at the Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Concert Series.
“There was excitement from everywhere,” says Andrews of the experience on the road and how it fed into the creation of their latest release. “We did over 200 shows in the last year and a half, and every night we allowed the music to take us over. Musically and creatively, we wanted to shoot for some different things.”
The band stirs together old-school jazz, funk and soul, laced with hard-rock power chords and hip-hop beats, and they’ve added some tangy new ingredients on “For True” as they keep pushing the envelope, exploring new musical territory.
“We never sat down and really thought about concepts and what we wanted our music to sound like,” Andrews explains. “It’s just that, over the years, we allowed each one of the band members to bring their influences and taste in music into our music. Anything we hear or are influenced by, it naturally comes out in what we’re trying to do. It’s just our sound, and it happened naturally.”
Andrews hails from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans’ Sixth Ward, getting his nickname at 4 years old when he was observed by his older brother James marching in a street parade wielding a trombone twice as long as the kid was high. Andrews started early, learning how to play drums and what he remembers as “the world’s smallest trumpet” at the age of 3. By the time he reached 6, this prodigy was playing trumpet and trombone in a jazz band led by his older brother James, himself a trumpet player of local renown who has been called “Satchmo of the Ghetto.”
Not long afterward, Andrews formed his own band with some other musically inclined kids from Tremé. Since he has garnered much praise from critics and fellow musicians.
“Trombone Shorty is so ready for his close-up,” The New York Times reviewer Nate Chinen wrote, describing the young virtuoso as “a native prodigy destined for breakout success.” The San Francisco Chronicle’s Joel Selvin hailed him as “New Orleans’ brightest new star in a generation.” Rolling Stone’s Will Hermes raved that “‘Backatown’ is both deeply rooted and culturally omnivorous.” And the Washington Post’s Mike Joyce described one live performance as “a near-deafening, funk-charged blast of percussion, brass, reeds and guitar distortion that might have knocked the crowd sideways had there been any room to move.”
Andrews wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks on the new album, including collaborating with the legendary Lamont Dozier on “Encore,” while this time playing as much trumpet as trombone, as well as organ, drums, piano, keys, synth bass and percussion. Indeed, he played every part on the swaying, Latin-tinged “Unc.” He’s also come into his own as a singer, honoring the hallowed legacy of the great soul men of the 1960s and ‘70s. Like its predecessor, the new album turns on a rare combination of virtuosity and high-energy, party-down intensity.
Collaboration helped bring out the creativity.
“On the last record, we just basically did it with my band,” Andrews points out, “but we’ve got a lot of New Orleans people on this new record — the music just called for it. [T]hese are all people that helped me grow in my career and teach me different things. And Fifth Ward Weebie, who’s one of the lead voices in the bounce community, we’re like brothers. I’m excited to have those people on there, because they bring a taste of where I come from and where I’m going.”
The album also bears the fruit of more recent relationships. Lenny Kravitz (who plays bass on “Roses”), has the longest-standing bond with Andrews, discovering the then-teenage prodigy in 2005 and taking him on tour with his band. Calling Andrews “a genius player,” Kravitz says, “He’s got nothing but personality, he plays his ass off and he’s a beautiful human being.”
His relationship with Jeff Beck (check out his blistering solo on “Do to Me”) has blossomed since the guitar legend came to Andrews’ late-night post-jazz fest show at Tipitina’s in 2010.
“I was completely blown away,” Beck says of his Tip’s epiphany in Mojo magazine’s “The Best Thing I’ve Heard All Year” special feature. “The crowd went wild. Troy and his band have just supported me on some U.K. dates. A sensational group of musicians. Trombone Shorty is one to watch.”
“I’m fans of all those people,” says Andrews. “It’s not like I reached out to them because I needed some big names on the record. I’m really interested in their music and their talents. So for me it’s a dream come true to work with some of my favorite artists. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll be there.”
Don’t be fooled. This isn’t just hype. Trombone Shorty is an innovative musician with many more years of inspiring music to share with the world.
For more information on Trombone Shorty, visit www.tromboneshorty.com/tour