Review by: Beth Baldino
Photos by: David Simchock / www.DavidSimchock.com
There are several things about a Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue show that you can count on each and every time. For one thing, you can be absolutely certain that a performance from this jazz/blues/rock/funk-style group will involve seven stellar musicians putting out maximum effort and energy, creating an over-the-top supercharged experience for those lucky enough to be in the house. That is why, right from the very first number at the November 4th gig at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, the floor was literally shaking from all the tapping and dancing feet.
Secondly, you can be sure that there will be constant movement on stage – when Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, comes to town, genius-level playing of the trombone and trumpet aren’t all you’ll get; expect to be treated to some James-Brown style groovin’ and robotic moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson. You can bet your last dollar on the following: the show going well past the final number; multiple encores that are no-less top notch than the initial set; and on a few surprises being thrown in just to make sure no one in the crowd is left with a shred of doubt about the torment of talent they just witnessed (be prepared to see the guys all switch instruments and perform as if they’ve been playing that way all along).
This particular show included an opening performance from Kids These Days, a group aptly named, as not one of these eight talents from Chicago looks to be over 21. One of the highlights of the evening for me was watching how enraptured the “kids” were with the main act, once they joined the audience. It’s hard not to feel that way, no matter how old you are, because Shorty is simply magnetic and more like a force of nature than a mere entertainer. Practically the only time you’ll catch him standing still on stage is when he’s gracefully ceding the spotlight to one of his stellar band mates, which he does often, but even then he’s likely to be tapping his toes to the beat and nodding his head approvingly. Stepping into shoes this one time child prodigy first filled at the age of six, Troy also spends a lot of time formally conducting the group.
Starting the evening with “Buckjump,” the place got a good feel for how this act combines the traditional brass band sound with modern electronic beats and rhythms in such an appealing way. This first number was from For True, the album released back in September, which definitively proves that ‘supa-funk’ can actually achieve some level of extreme funkiness beyond what was previously imagined. Other numbers from the latest CD included “Encore,” “Do To Me,” “The Craziest Thing,” and “Roses,” a slower number reminiscent of the wildly popular, “Something Beautiful” from the earlier album, Backatown, which was also included in the set. Favorites including “Suburbia,” “One Night Only,” and “Hurricane,” were other songs featured from this CD, along with Shorty’s most excellent cover of “On Your Way Down,” best known from the version Little Feat did of this Allen Toussaint classic.
The last thing you can be assured about this group is that no matter how many times you’ve seen them do their thing, you’ll never get tired of the thrill, be amazed at how they continue to get better every year, and end the night eagerly looking forward to your next opportunity to attend one of these Big Easy-style dance parties that is a Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue concert.