Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Yes, Mardi Gras doesn’t officially roll around on the calendar until Tuesday, March 4, but unbeknownst to most Northerners, down in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is not a single-day celebration. It’s actually a whole season that started earlier this month, so when Big Easy favorite Trombone Shorty slid into The Egg in Albany recently, he was officially launching Mardi Gras season right here in the Capital Region.
And oh, what a party it was… Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Shorty (born Troy Andrews) earned his nickname as a youngster when his trombone was bigger than he was. He’s grown considerably, but he’s still only 28 years old… with more than two decades of playing professionly under his belt – not only playing trombone, but also singing, playing trumpet, dancing (part James Brown, part Michael Jackson) and serving as the kind of genuine all-around entertainer that seemed to disappear years ago.
During their encore at The Egg, Trombone Shorty and all the members of his band, Orleans Avenue, leapt up on Joey Peebles’ drum riser, gathered around up close to his kit and started pounding out a second line rhythm – the irresistible syncopated beat that’s the pulse and heartbeat of the City That Time Forgot.
It was fun. It was funky. It was a fabulous climax to a concert that never flagged.
Anchored by the bass-in-your-face man Mike Ballard, the band roared out of the box at the start of the night with the super-powered instrumental, “Buckjump,” that packed the punch of a heavy metal power trio, while dropping a mega-ton funk bomb. From there, they launched into a beautifully bayou-soaked blast of the Guess Who’s golden oldie, “American Woman,” and Pete Murano’s wah-wah guitar-laden rendition of “Mrs. Orleans,” featuring a masterful baritone sax solo by Dan Oestreicher.
From there, things just took off. There was the slow-drag blues during which Shorty did his circular breathing thing – holding a single trumpet note for an incredibly, inhumanly long duration. He injected Cab Calloway’s trademark “Hi-Dee-Ho” into a rollicking rendition of the blues classic “Saint James Infirmary.” The old nugget “On the Sunny Side of the Street” gave Shorty a showcase for his considerable vocal capabilities, jazz phrasing and outstanding showmanship. And their wild ‘n’ woolly rave-up on the old Ray Charles chestnut “I Got a Woman” sent the show into orbit and the sold-out crowd up on its feet.
And, yes, it’s only early January, but if this show isn’t on my list of the Top 10 concerts of 2014, well then, wow, it is gonna have to be quite an amazing year for local music fans…
Paul Rapp’s review at Metroland
Pete Mason’s review and Jim Gilbert’s photographs at Upstate Live
Excerpt from Michael Hochanadel’s review at The Daily Gazette: “Imagine a giant beignet: crunchy, sweet and irresistibly New Orleans. That was the music that Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews deep-fried for a sold-out crowd that spent much of the 90-minute set on its feet. Trumpet over his head in one hand, trombone high in the other, he came out to take over the band in mid-groove, playing trombone in this wordless opener but switching to trumpet for the Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’ (which he likely learned while touring in Lenny Kravitz’s band) and sharing solo space with tenor sax-man Tim McFatter and guitarist Pete Murano. Shorty played both trumpet and ’bone in ‘Mrs. Orleans,’ going all staccato, like a trumpet while playing trombone. There was nothing wrong with Shorty’s originals, and he sampled all three albums on Sunday, funking up everything or jazzing it all hot. But he seemed to relish lighting up the covers: If the originals showcased his ingenuity, the covers celebrated his heritage.”