Trombone Shorty brings New Orleans to the Westcott

Review: The talented multi-instrumentalist creates a blend of authentic jazz, soul and rock.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews was clearly born to play music.

Master of three instruments – the trombone, trumpet and his voice – Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue used all his talents at the Westcott Theater on Tuesday to create a blend of authentic New Orleans jazz, soul and rock.

While Trombone Shorty has garnered attention this year for appearances in HBO’s new "Treme" series about post-Katrina New Orleans, his high-energy shows and confident improvisational manner have helped to attract new fans.

No matter how long he’d been blowing into his instruments Tuesday night, Trombone Shorty still had enough energy to belt out personal and borrowed tunes. His solo impromptus made his trombone and trumpet seem like they were alternative voices that he used to convey his soulful melodies.

Trombone Shorty’s voice ranged high and low. After hitting soprano notes at points, he did a nearly perfect rendition of Louis Armstrong’s raspy “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The audience was hooked.

“We make it funky, we make it funky,” Trombone sang as he wore a tight-fitting dark T-shirt, jeans and sunglasses. “I like it like that; you like it like that.”

Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, New York

The crowd was moved by the band’s melodies and its smooth transitions from song to song nearly went unnoticed. The audience sang, cheered, waved its hands up high and danced to the musicians’ performance of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.”

“Sing some dirty jazz,” a woman requested, and Trombone Shorty was happy to oblige. 

Like an adept orchestra conductor, Trombone Shorty ensured that all members of the Orleans Avenue quartet stepped into the spotlight to show off their virtuoso abilities during brief solo performances.

In addition to their set, the musicians improvised a medley of recognizable tunes, including Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.” The nearly two-and-a-half hour performance ended with previews of Trombone Shorty’s recent album Backatown, including “Something Beautiful,” featuring Lenny Kravitz.

Backatown is a reference to New Orleans’ Treme neighborhood, where Trombone Shorty grew up and the basis for David Simon’s Treme series on HBO.

Ouch, cheeks puffed

Lesson #1, don't puff your cheeks. The reason why this is so important is because you can actually blow out your nerves in your cheeks. I knew of a professional trombone player in the BSO who had to quit because he blew the nerves in his cheeks.

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