The sound and soul of New Orleans filled Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday night. Students and revelers alike partied to the New Orleans funk jazz band Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. The concert was part of the University of Connecticut’s African American Cultural Center’s celebrations for Black History Month.
The night opened with an energetic performance from rising star, The Record Company, in a classic southern style that riled up the audience and got the dancing mood on.
The billing act then took the stage, starting with a chaotic yet melodic piece. The lead then addressed the crowd.
“Hello UConn, my name is Trombone Shorty, here from the great city of New Orleans!” he yelled to the cheering concertgoers.
The party mood reflected the music. Young and old donned the traditional Mardi Gras beads and masks, as they danced to the electric, infectious beat. At one point, Trombone Shorty himself invited the entire audience to dance to the music.
“Thank you, we love all of y’all,” he shouted at the end of the piece.
Troy Andrews, better known by his stage name, Trombone Shorty, started playing at the age of 4 in his New Orleans neighborhood of Tremé. By the age of six, he was a band leader for his local parade brass section, and by the age of 19, was playing billing acts with Aerosmith. Andrews is a multi instrumentalist, playing the trumpet, drums, organ, and tuba.
Andrews founded Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue in 2009. Since then, he’s played withMacklemore, Green Day and U2, along with performing at last year’s Grammy Awards. His most recent tour has so far covered the Eastern Seaboard and will take the band back to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras week.
Thursday night, however, he rocked his signature and titular instrument, with all the energy of a full-out Mardi Gras parade and all the heart of his hometown. Andrews himself calls his style spafunkarock.
Like the music of Louis Armstrong, it carries a strong ‘old America vibe’ of the '20s dance-friendly swing style, with a new twist that incorporates hip-hop, electro and contemporary soul funk dynamic.
"He is a phenom," quipped one concert attendee. "It's a lively, hot, New Orleans sound."
Guitarist Pete Murano, bassist Mike Ballard and drummer Joey Peebles helped bring the sounds of Mardi Gras into the auditorium, while Dan Oestreicher & BK Jackson (Baritone & Tenor Sax) brought the classic jazz wave to the stage. Several solos were interspersed throughout, with a swinging sax tune in the middle of Avenue’s signature song, “Hurricane Season.”
By the end of the night, Andrew’s act was a groove that rocked the floorboards and filled the audience with fire, proving once and for all, jazz isn't dead.
The night rounded off with a rocking rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” traditional Mardi Gras bead-throwing and an encore that had band members switching their instruments. Multi instrumentalism is a trait across the board for Orleans Avenue. The band then bowed to a resounding round of applause from the audience.
Trombone Shorty’s music isn’t a one-hit wonder, and has gone on to catch the hearts of young musicians everywhere.
“He’s very influential,” said David McArdle of the Coventry High School Jazz Band. “He makes the trombone take on a whole new style. He is an inspiration to me.”
Marlese Lessing is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.