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Thursday, September 19, 2013
In most cases, the phrase "Are you ready to party?" is stock concert patter. But coming from Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews at Jefferson Center on Thursday, the words rang with authenticity.
New Orleans-based Andrews' newly released CD, "Say That To Say This," topped the Billboard contemporary jazz chart this week. And that news came as he and his band, Orleans Avenue, were starting their tour to support the new record.
At Jefferson Center's Shaftman Hall in Roanoke, he and the band found a sold-out crowd of more than 900 for the opening show of the 2013-2014 Star City Series. If Shorty is starting a good run, so is Jefferson Center - the next three shows in the series are already sold out, executive director Cyrus Pace said.
So yes, Andrews and his band were ready to party, as was the audience. Many stayed on their feet for much of the 90-minute show, hearing songs from Andrews' three CDs and some Big Easy chestnuts to which the band gave new and funky life.
If success has messed with Andrews' ego, it was impossible to tell on Thursday. He showed a huge musical vocabulary but gave plenty of solo space to the cats of Orleans Avenue.
Guitarist Pete Murano cast several psychedelic funk-rock spells, and tenor sax man Tim McFatter showed fierce chops.
It started with a couple of instrumental numbers, Andrews ripping some funk-rock trombone, then switching to trumpet for a number that sounded like Grand Funk Railroad's "American Woman." While "Trumpet Shorty" might not have the same ring as his childhood nickname, he has mastered that horn, too.
He soon showed his smooth vocal style with "One Night Only (The March)," and the Allen Toussaint number, "On Your Way Down," both from his 2010 disc, "Backatown." But those songs were just prelude to some serious New Orleans steam.
"Shortyville," the song that closes the new disc, might be the best instrumental that Andrews has written. It is surely the most distinct, and it combined a monster second-line groove from drummer Joey Peebles and the thump of bassist Michael Ballard with wild work from McFatter and baritone saxophonist Dan Oestreicher.
After the sizzling funk-rock of "Do To Me," from the 2011 CD "For True," the band closed with a NOLA classic, "St. James Infirmary," with Andrews relying on one trumpet note and a lot of circular breathing to excite the audience, even if it wasn't always pitch-perfect.
They encored with Professor Longhair's "Go To The Mardi Gras," the band gathering around Peebles' kit for a group solo, Andrews and Peebles trading licks on the snare.
This band is moving New Orleans music into the future.
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