Not long after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Delta, an episode of the short-lived Aaron Sorkin meta-drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip paid tribute to New Orleans by featuring a brass sextet of displaced Crescent City musicians. Led by multi-instrumentalist and jazz bandleader Troy Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, the band performed a stirring, soulful version of “O Holy Night,” and they were introduced as “The city of New Orleans.” Oddly enough, it was an apt description.
New Orleans has long been considered one of America’s great melting pots, and its pan-cultural hodgepodge, not to mention its humidity-sticky climate, find its way into Trombone Shorty’s music, especially when he’s flanked by his Orleans Avenue street-jazz wrecking crew. Together they provide a bridge between all of the Crescent City’s musical mile markers: Congo Square slave calls, Louis Armstrong’s second-line jazz, Fats Domino’s pre-rock ‘n’ roll R&B, and No Limit hip-hop. Andrews’ disciplined, groove-conscious funk-soul is steeped in jazz and funk, rock and hip-hop, and it’s given a spicy NOLA kick.
Find your way to Trombone Shorty’s set on Saturday afternoon. Close your eyes really tight, listen really hard, and you’ll hear something: the city of New Orleans.