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Live Review: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Keziah Jones

7 April 2015 | 3:09 pm | Jack Lynch

"Trombone Shorty is seldom played on any local radio but his reputation as one of the finest live international party-brass acts is well deserved and justifies his frequent touring."

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Entertainment comes in many forms and caters to differing tastes but few could walk away from this Trombone Shorty gig and complain. One “detractor” was overheard saying that the two-hour gig was too short claiming she could have, “handled another hour… or at least half an hour.”

Nigerian-born Keziah Jones impressed an early arriving and appreciative audience with his hybrid of blues and Afro funk. The knowledgeable crowd wore wide smiles as he lay his acoustic guitar on a stool and used it as effective percussion, adding to the conga player’s beat. It was a solid warm-up for the main event. Laid-back rhythms and a cover of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower were well received without anyone bursting out of their skins.

Twenty-nine year old Trombone Shorty, Troy Andrews to his mum, has all the attributes to make him a bona fide star. After strolling out onto the stage during a grungy play-on from his polished band, the New Orleans local aggressively hoisted his trumpet and trombone high above his head, announcing himself to the room. With sunglasses on, he then punched into a well-balanced unison with the baritone and tenor sax. The levels were good, but it was obvious who the star was. Shorty’s charisma and huge brass sound were not to be outshone.

He was far from egotistical, however, and gave his band plenty of lengthy solos where they could stretch out and show off their talents. Since his debut record, 2010’s Backatown, Trombone Shorty has made New Orleans legend Lee Dorsey’s On Your Way Down his own. He’s had five years to develop it and the current evolution drew the night’s largest applause. Showcasing dynamic versatility, effortless grooves, skilful unisons and silky vocals, the cheers were well earned by the whole ensemble. Those listening intently heard Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon cleverly sandwiched between guitar solos – a nod to a staple of countless ‘jam-bands’.

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The set was more rock than funk, but more funk than blues. There was opportunity for crowd participation through rehearsed dancing, directed claps and prompted singing. Jazz nerds were able to get their necks thrusting and feet tapping when the Shorty repeatedly swapped four-bar solos with his baritone and tenor sax players. Brass enthusiasts could marvel at the way Shorty switched between his trombone and trumpet without thought of slide position or valve selection whilst still maintaining perfect pitch and tongue-defying speed.

It was truly a performance for anyone to enjoy. Trombone Shorty is seldom played on any local radio but his reputation as one of the finest live international party-brass acts is well deserved and justifies his frequent touring.