Sunday, November 7, 2010

Trombone Shorty rocks Sarasota Blues Festival

Trombone Shorty at Sarasota Blues Festival on Nov. 6.
Multi-threat musician Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews had thousands on their feet, smiling and cheering Saturday at the Sarasota Blues Festival.

New Orleans' hottest export adroitly played trombone and trumpet while leading his ace, six-piece backing unit — lead guitar, bass guitar, percussion, drums, tenor sax, baritone sax — through a winningly eclectic set of funk, jazz, blues and rock.

Andrews has been a virtuoso horn player since his teens but as someone who has seen the 24-year-old perform numerous times in the past five years, it's worth noting his growth as a vocalist. His voice has become remarkably stronger and more flexible. He implemented scatting and more complicated, jazzing phrasing akin to his horn playing into his singing Saturday. Andrews has also developed an effective falsetto for the sexy time numbers and a show-stopping banshee yell borrowed from the James Brown playbook.

Trombone Shorty publicity photo.
And his charisma and confidence continue to rocket off the chart. Andrews simply exudes positive energy. Just watching him animatedly cajole extra notes from his band-mates during their solos proved wildly entertaining.

Whereas Andrews previously relied on classic rock and hip-hop covers to elate audiences, he now holds listeners attention with minimal gimmickry and a set list largely consisting of self-penned originals culled from his new Verve/Universal, major label debut "Backatown." The disc features the catchy single "Something Beautiful," which was a highlight Saturday, and easily ranks as one of the more interesting and satisfying releases of the year.

Andrews still pays homage to his hero Louis Armstong but no longer with the expected "When the Saints Go Marching In." Instead, the Crescent City's current star offered a truly life-affirming rendition of the popular Satchmo recording "On the Sunny Side of the Street." During that song and numerous others Andrews and a Sarasota Blues Festival crowd not exactly known known for embracing young, genre-defying artists, completely connected. Standing in the front row and feeling the love shared between the performer and audience proved to be one of my more moving concert experiences of recent memory.

Read my interview with Trombone Shorty.

Read my interview with Sarasota Blues Fest promoter Barbara Strauss.

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