Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, played a set at this year’s Jacksonville Jazz Festival that was a full-on frontal assault of funk, rock, jazz, hip hop and blues fusion. This New Orleans native’s brand of musical gumbo came at the audience at 200 mph, unapologetic and ridiculously hot. His trombone led the ensemble’s precise and razor sharp arrangements that pistol whipped the crowd into a frenzy and incited a party. The experience was life affirming.
His 2011 release For True completely captured the infectious energy and Utopian shock of his live performances. This is not rehashed funk, but a fresh approach to gut bucket blues fusion. With guest artists such as guitar great Jeff Beck, Kid Rock, neo-soul songstress Ledisi, and The Rebirth Brass Band all coupled with Shorty’s virtuosity and dynamic lead vocals brings Shorty’s 2011 album into groundbreaking territory in the music world.
His latest release, Say That To Say This, exhibits more maturity in Shorty’s song writing, while also providing a more introspective approach. He is vocally and lyrically advancing his brand in addition to instrumentally stepping towards a softer, richer performing style. The result of all this recent effort makes his music seem more measured and tentative. Gone is the bungee jumping, tightrope dancing, baseball bat to the temple excitement of For True, or his first solo outing in 2010’s Backatown. That being said, he still brings the funk, but these mid tempo plodders channel old school funkmiesters like Earth, Wind and Fire. This is gumbo without the hot sauce. Standout cut “Vieux Carre,” shows off Shorty’s formidable trombone chops while his refined vocals hold together very well throughout Say That To Say This, but Shorty is much too inventive to be relegated to recycling your grandfather’s old funk.