In early 2010, after years of slugging it out in clubs, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews released his acclaimed national debut, “Backatown.” In the frenetic year that followed, he and backing band Orleans Avenue logged some 200 performances across five continents in a furious globe-trotting tour. He’s the kind of relentless road warrior that rolls his sleeves up and chisels out a name for himself one venue at a time.
The high-energy and consistently entertaining “For True” picks up where the Grammy-nominated “Backatown” left off with a similar mix of instrumentals and Andrews’ Lenny Kravitz-like vocals. Like “Backatown,” “For True” is a decidedly contemporary funk/R&B/pop/jazz fusion informed by New Orleans tradition. In New Orleans, jazz is a building block, a musical foundation. Andrews fully embraces the future-funk and grimy rock backbeats which bring crowds to their feet. But at his core, he’s also a phenomenal jazz trombonist and singer from the Tremé neighborhood. The fusion makes sense and propels the New Orleans sound into fascinating and exciting new directions, giving him a stepping stone into some unexpected collaborations on record.
The opening track “Buckjump” sets the tone as a swaggering brass/hip-hop hybrid featuring local rapper 5th Ward Weebie, the Rebirth Brass Band and a potent bass riff by Orleans Avenue’s Mike Ballard, who co-wrote the song.
Andrews wrote or co-wrote all 14 tracks. Galactic saxophonist Ben Ellman, the producer of “Backatown,” is behind the boards once again. Not surprisingly, at least three cuts — “Buckjump,” “Nervis” and the killer instrumental “Dumaine Street,” with its brawny guitar riffage and sneaky, sultry sax groove — would not be out of place on a latter-day Galactic album – and that’s a good thing, trust me.
For True is the album that best seems to capture the blistering energy and momentum of a sweaty, brass-fueled rave-up at some hole-in-the-wall New Orleans club. It’s a strong and mightily entertaining record that might even top his previous achievements – leaving no doubt that Trombone Shorty is one of the hardest-working, most forward-thinking bandleaders, songwriters and performers working today– in New Orleans or any other town you care to name. Dig it?
Trombone Shorty’s new record For True is out tomorrow and he’s playing a release show tonight in New Orleans at Tipitina’s. For those not in the Big Easy, the event will be streaming live in HD via Liveset.com