Native Son of New Orleans

Trombone Shorty

New Orleans is a city unlike any other in the US. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that there is not another city like New Orleans in the world. With residents who understand and appreciate the historical value of everything from architecture to natural landscape and definitely the arts, New Orleans remains vibrant despite suffering devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

When you look at the title of this post there are hundreds of people that could fit the bill, especially when it comes to music. One of the foremost New Orleans musicians today might be Wynton Marsalis. The great jazz trumpeter has really grown into the role of ambassador of modern jazz music. In expanding the scope of jazz music he is certainly a reason for pride for his hometown. Yet, as Marsalis continues to work in furthering jazz on a worldwide scale, he is leaving many young musicians who are emerging on the international music stage. I am speaking of this weeks’ featured musician; Trombone Shorty.

Troy Andrews (born January 2, 1986), also known by the stage name Trombone Shorty, is a trombone and trumpet player from New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. He has worked in jazz, funk and rap music. Andrews is the younger brother of trumpeter and bandleader James Andrews as well as the grandson of singer and songwriter Jessie Hill. Andrews began playing trombone at age six, and since 2009 has toured with his own band, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

As I listened to an interview with Trombone Shorty several months ago, he spoke freely and admiringly about his New Orleans musical roots. If Wynton Marsalis continues to build the bridge between past and present jazz musicians, Trombone Shorty strives to do the same with New Orleans musicians. He repeatedly made the statement that he is the product of New Orleans music. This is the reason why as you listen to Trombone Shorty albums, you hear a mixture of musical genres. His most recent album, Say That to Say This, demonstrates the eclectic nature of his music, and New Orleans music overall.

I found it interesting that he reached out to noted R & B artist and producer Raphael Saadiq to produce the album. In the radio interview Trombone Shorty said that he thought Saadiq could bring something different to his album. He was absolutely right. Upon the start of work on the album Trombone Shorty said that Saddiq was well aware of New Orleans music, and he approached the production in a way that did not compromise the cherished New Orleans sound.

Trombone Shorty and his band are in great demand around the world. The summer is the music festival season and it looks like the band will be playing several dates every day without letup.  Interestingly this guy is twenty-eight years old and started out performing on the streets of New Orleans. In the interview he explained that music surrounds life in New Orleans.

As I worked on this weeks’ post I reflected upon my time in college. The reason I thought about college days is because as a music education major, my primary musical instrument was the trumpet. However, as most music majors will tell you, the music education curriculum includes technique courses that offer basic instruction in playing other instruments. When I began my very first college semester, I enrolled in the brass techniques class. Because the trumpet was my primary instrument, I could not choose the trumpet, and so I chose the trombone. After a promising start to these classes the instructor asked me to consider changing my primary instrument to the trombone. I gave it my best effort, but the trombone slide positions were extremely challenging. Needless the say the switch never happened.

I admire Trombone Shorty for being able to play both trumpet and trombone. The young artist is passing the musical torch in a couple of ways. The Trombone Shorty Foundation evolved from Andrews’ Horns For Schools Project, a collaboration with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, which helped schools across New Orleans receive quality instruments donated by Andrews personally. The Foundation’s mission is “to preserve and perpetuate the unique musical culture of New Orleans by passing down its traditions to future generations of musicians.” I also believe that by him not only singing and playing other instruments, but playing the trombone and trumpet as an artist of popular music will influence a number of young musicians to choose to play brass instruments in the future.

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