Concert of the Day: The Vibrators
Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews made his Tampa Bay area debut at Tropical Heatwave two years ago, when he took the stage as a virtual unknown. On Saturday, the New Orleans native returns to WMNF‚Äôs annual bash as a co-headlining hero.
During the 2007 show, Andrews‚Äô mash-up of traditional jazz, hard rock, syncopated funk and old-school hip-hop was unlike anything most audience members had heard. With his band Orleans Avenue, Andrews started his set with a monstrous instrumental version of AC/DC‚Äôs Back in Black, punctuated with fierce, precise trombone blasts. He would later switch to trumpet, sing, beat box and bust out some impressive dance moves.
"That was a great, great time for us musically, and the audience was giving us so much love and energy we had to take it to that level," Andrews, 23, said when he called earlier this month from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. "Playing Tampa has become like home away from home. We couldn‚Äôt ask to be in a better place. We‚Äôre very excited."
Andrews returned to the area last spring for the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, where he drew quite a crowd even though he had the unenviable 1 p.m. opening slot. His New Orleans party music is an unstoppable force that‚Äôs continually winning over converts.
"People see a horn and think jazz ‚Äî sit down and be quiet," he said, and with a laugh added, "We‚Äôre trying to make people unafraid of the horn."
Andrews grew up in the culturally rich Treme neighborhood. Surrounded by a family of musicians, he became a bandleader at age 6. Andrews studied jazz at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the same school that prepared Wynton and Branford Marsalis, as well as Harry Connick Jr., for stardom.
In 2005, Lenny Kravitz selected Andrews to join his horn section for a world tour that included dates with Aerosmith. That‚Äôs when Andrews had his epiphany. He returned to New Orleans and went from leading second-line jazz bands and barely speaking on stage to singing, dancing and fronting a group that produces what he calls "super funk rock."
"I needed that; it was like schooling for me," Andrews said about the Kravitz tour. "I had played with country, bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop acts, covered all that. But when I got with my uncle Lenny, I thought 'This is where I want to be.‚Äô "
(No, Andrews is not really Kravitz‚Äôs nephew: "We‚Äôre not related by blood," Andrews says, "but by love.")
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue are scheduled to perform from 9:40 to 11:10 p.m. Saturday at El Pasaje Plaza. For the second year in a row, the plaza will feature only artists from Louisiana. It‚Äôs the place to catch Grammy-winning Cajun band BeauSoleil, Big Sam‚Äôs Funky Nation and Bonerama. They all are redefining the sound of New Orleans while following in the footsteps of seminal jazz acts like Louis Armstrong, the Marsalis family and Big Sam‚Äôs former employer, Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
"These bands are recognizing the traditions but just breaking through with other influences for something new,‚Äù said WMNF program director Randy Wynne. ‚ÄúTheir sound provides something for everyone."
-- Wade Tatangelo, tbt*. Photo by Jane Richey.