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Monday, May 24, 2010

Trombone Shorty blows for ‘Treme’

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Being born and raised in New Orleans' musical Treme neighborhood gave Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews a schooling in brassy funk. But as a sideman on Lenny Kravitz's '05 world tour, Andrews plugged into a new level of projection by watching Kravitz reach thousands of people per night. "I just soaked that in and came back, and whenever I jump on the stage now I play like I'm playing in an arena, reaching for that type of energy," Andrews says.

Equally proficient on trumpet and trombone, the 24-year-old musician raises the dead and pays homage to the living, channeling the lips of Louis Armstrong on trumpet and former James Brown bandleader Fred Wesley on bone. In a typical set, Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" gets stripped of its calypso roots and recoated with funk, the "Day--O" chorus transformed into a James Brown shout-out, before Andrews resurrects Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," his muted horn adding a jazzy feel to the soul classic.

With his band Orleans Avenue, Andrews captures the bygone feel of his Treme neighborhood on his latest release, Backatown. "Treme is the heart of the city. It is the New Orleans sound," Andrews says, despite Hurricane Katrina's decimation of the neighborhood, which knocked the population of musicians down from 85 percent to about 10 percent. But Andrews kicks it back up with a bunch of brassy funk-jazz originals and his snaky rendition of Allen Toussaint's "On Your Way Down, featuring Toussaint on piano.

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(Photo by Bo Streeter)

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