in performance: trombone shorty and orleans avenue

Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty.

It took an offstage rumble to get the crowd going last night the Lexington Opera House. You heard it moments before the house lights went down – the brassy stretch of a musician audibly warming up. The instrument at work, instantly recognizable, would prove the signature sound of the 90 minute jazz-soul-funk rampage that was to come.

A trombone.

With that Troy Andrews, known professionally as Trombone Shorty, and his Orleans Avenue band hit the stage literally running with “Buckjump.” The tune was a delicious blast of organic, instrumental funk that teamed Andrews with tenor saxophonist BK Jackson and baritone sax man Dan Oestreicher for a boisterous charge rich in the tradition of the bandleader’s native New Orleans but with a decidedly stormier and electric cast. It was a terrific firestarter for the program boasting an ending where Andrews rode atop the ensemble tempest with a solo that sounded like a massive, echoing bellylaugh.

In all honesty, nothing in the rest of the program matched the jovial ferocity summoned during “Buckjump.” And for the record, the rest of the program was still pretty fine and fun.

Andrews, a leader of a new generation of New Orleans musical journeymen, is schooled in tradition but was hardly the traditionalist last night. His setlist regularly weaved original works like “The Craziest Things” and “Where It At,” both hybrids of contemporary and vintage soul with strains of Crescent City sass, in between snippets of generational funk that directly pulled from the grooves of such disparate ambassadors as James Brown and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. All that doesn’t even take into account how Andrews also gems by New Orleans forefathers Allen Toussaint (“On Your Way Down,” “Here Come the Girls”) and The Meters (“It Ain’t No Use”) his own during the show

A cover of the Marvin Gaye make-out staple “Let’s Get It On” was the evening’s most extended glimpse of old school soul as well as the most complete vehicle for Andrews’ other instrument, the trumpet. His tone on the latter may have been less overtly animated that his leads on trombone, but his sense of soul lyricism was just as pronounced.

A show closing mash-up of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” with the three horn players translating the verses into merry instrumental exchanges, and the more R&B friendly original “Do to Me” brought the party home. It may have started in New Orleans, but the resulting groove happily traveled the globe and tripped through time.

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