Trombone Shorty longs for New Orleans
Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews has played for a million people in Rio de Janeiro.He’s toured worldwide with Lenny Kravitz and Aerosmith.Andrews just finished recording in New York with Harry Connick Jr.Kings and royalty have heard him sound his horn all over Europe.But there’s no other place Trombone Shorty would rather be than the Big Easy.
“I’ve played all over the world,” said Andrews, as he arrived in Glenwood Springs for today’s Summer of Jazz performance. “New Orleans, that’s my favorite place.”With his older brother James as his mentor, the now-20-year-old trombone player started playing at the age of 4 while growing up in New Orleans’ Tremé neighborhood. The area, located a block from the French Quarter, produced jazz pioneers Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton and Kid Ory.”All I knew is that you could catch a brass band at 5 in the morning, any day, any time of the week. My brother took me around everywhere – clubs, venues and concerts to see people who had an impact on the music,” Andrews said. “He took me under his wing. He wanted me to see all the great jazz musicians, and he took me all over the world. My brother’s my best friend – he’s been a father figure to me my whole life.”Andrews remembers playing on stage with Bo Diddley when Andrews was 3 or 4. He was given his nickname around the time he first began to play the trombone. “The horn was taller than me,” he said.Andrews is a graduate of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where he finished early his junior year. He has played with his band, Orleans Avenue, since his teens – when he’s not touring with Kravitz or sharing stages with jazz greats such as the Neville Brothers and Branford Marsalis.
“Playing with Lenny let me know where I want to be. I think I learned a lot from watching Lenny and Steven Tyler. It was an amazing experience to watch them,” he said. “It’s like when Miles Davis saw Jimi Hendrix play – it changed him forever.”Touring has kept Andrews on the road for most of the last year and a half, although he was in New Orleans when Katrina hit. “The day before the storm I was playing with my cousin in the Rebirth Brass Band. We played like two jazz funerals and a parade,” he said. “We were supposed to play Tipitina’s, but when they told us the show was canceled, that’s when we knew it was serious.”Katrina caused Andrews’ home to flood with seven feet of water. He literally drove out of town with the clothes on his back, two horns and a car full of family members.”I gathered everyone I could – my mother, my sister, my niece, my cousins – and drove to Dallas. Some people didn’t want to leave,” he said. “About 85 percent of my whole family was still in New Orleans when the storm hit. I was the only one the whole family could contact because I had a satellite Blackberry. It was very painful.”Not long after Katrina, Andrews returned to touring with Kravitz. He recently finished his commitment and played the 37th Annual NAACP Image Awards with Herbie Hancock and others. During the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April, Andrews caught up with an old friend from U2.
“This year at Jazz Fest I was hanging out with The Edge, who’s a friend of mine. We met when I was real young,” Andrews said. “He and Bono saw me play when I was 12 – I guess they danced on the tables.”For Andrews, music is an outlet that allows him to help his New Orleans neighbors.”I’ve been very fortunate to be a musician, and I’m just excited to play music. I’m creating a foundation with my band to help other musicians play,” he said. “As soon as I hit the stage, I forget about everything. I’ve been blessed, and I thank the Lord.”Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
Every Wednesday, the Summer of Jazz concert series hosts free concerts from 7-9:30 p.m. at Two Rivers Park. This year, Summer of Jazz is in tribute to New Orleans music and its heritage. Each week the Post Independent profiles the featured musicians and acts. For more information on Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews and Orleans Avenue, visit http://www.summerofjazz.com. Name: Troy Trombone Shorty Andrews Age: 20 Type of music played: funk, hip-hop, pop and brass-band styles of New Orleans jazz (hear his music at http://www.myspace.com/tromboneshorty) Whats the most irreplaceable item you lost in Hurricane Katrina? I lost everything there was seven feet of water in my house. The most irreplaceable things were my horns from when I was a kid, pictures of me with Danny Barker and Quincy Jones, and jewelry I bought in Saudi Arabia.
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