Photo by Bill Kelly

Trombone Shorty, Troy Andrews, played the hell out of a trumpet. Wait, that can’t be right. I meant to say, he played the hell out of a… trumpet. What the hell? It’s right there in his name: trombone. Let me try this again. He played the hell out of the role of band leader orchestrating a New Orleans funk crusade. Not quite… He gave those brass shells life with the wind through his throat. He pounded the stage with arms open wide (inciting and embracing the crowd’s response) prepared to chest bump the entire hill of people with jazz, blues and a funky confidence built on unquestionable talent.

As his name implied, he did great justice to that long-armed bow of a trombone, but a majority of mind-bending solos were on the shorter, three-valve system of the trumpet this evening. The sounds he whittled out of both instruments was profound. Working with the intangible medium of air, he rivaled any string, skin, bow, key or vocal thread. Part of the allure was the wide spectrum of versatile play that came out of these single instruments. Another allure was the energy and sharp orchestrated synchronicity directed by Trumpet Tallboy… I mean Trombone Shorty. He was a dictator of funk leading the music with an iron breath and sculpted arms. He sliced the notes to an end and directed bodies to corresponding routines of wiggled hips painting a wash under the brass. Dip, sway your hips. Dip, sway your hips. He repeated and the band listened and responded in kind. If only the audience would have followed in mass.

It boggled me how any hip could have remained stuck to a seat with the power and momentum of this music. The saxophones danced in tandem side to side. The large baritone sax covered most of Dan Oestreicher’s body, while Tim McFatter’s shorter-legged tenor sax kicked its rounded heels in time. Troy Andrews vibrated the trombone arm to echo sound from every rounded crevasse of that hollowed brass canal. “Can I play you some blues out of this here trombone?” He asked before he squeaked, spoke, blew, stretched and illuminated sound that made the trombone blush for seeing its own deep bowels turned inside out for all to see… Then smile for the layers of beauty it never imagined could traverse its center. The trumpet, under his direction, had confidence, as shorter bodies tend to necessitate, and he played that little body to its edge and then some—holding notes long past the point of breath and dispersing entirely new sounds into the ether. Bass, guitar and drums laid a solid, high-energy grit and flow that danced this well-oiled machine. Literally standing at the front of the stage at times playing their respective instruments in smooth coordinated movements with the others.

The house lights turned on and off at the show’s end, taunting an encore. Playing the crowd at every angle and opportunity. All six members took their instruments to the front of the stage, then into the crowd leading a New Orleans style parade weaving through the seats… Finally forcing the audience to stand up!