Concert Review: Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue / DJ Trumaster @ The Egg, 09/01/2023

To give joy, you need to bring it yourself, and Trombone Shorty—born Troy Andrews, a son of Treme in New Orleans – always packs plenty.

For uplift and get-down, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue amazed, again, at The Egg on Friday—a tremendous, thrilling show.

As usual, he grinned wide, coming onstage, trumpet and trombone held high. His band was already deep in the groove, though slightly smaller than the crew he led here in November on the same stage.

Photo by Michael Hochanadel

“Spaced” and “Backatown” surged with the straight-ahead, everybody-in-the-pocket energy of the New Orleans street parades, where Shorty learned his trade in brass bands. Then, “Do To Me” slowed a bit to deliver a mission statement/invitation:

“I know you came here to move

Shown up tonight so the show improve.”

Wow, damn, how COULD it? How about a Prince cover?

Photo by Michael Hochanadel

“Let’s Go Crazy” has rocked Shorty’s shows for years, but it has stayed fresh and fun. The cautionary tale “On the Way Down”—you’ll meet the same people you might have abused while going up when you’re on the way back down yourself – reworked this Little Milton wisdom into a fine, roaring funk-fest.

Then, a New Orleans two-fer, the party-time Allen Toussaint anthem “Here Come the Girls” and the Neville Brothers’ “Fire and Brimstone” – both punched up big.

The craving/lovesong “Lifted” brought a hearty call-and-response chorus from the mostly up-and-moving crowd; there was more yearning in the come-on “Might Not Make It Home” and the mighty miss-you message of “Come Back.”

The encore “Hurricane Season” celebrated the resiliency of his often-battered hometown, with spunk, spirit and unity as today’s most powerful and persuasive exponent of New Orleans funk and feel.

Elastic, electric, ecstatic; Trombone Shorty’s simple-on-the-surface music is also deceptively exacting because it feels so organic. To make things fit together with eight players (well, seven and a singer; Shorty is both) takes first-class musical smarts and savvy show-biz pizzaz. 

Photo by Michael Hochanadel

In their formidable, forceful flow, everything fit, and nobody needed cues to hit their riffs, solos or section playing. Whenever anybody soloed, Shorty sidled up and encouraged them. Often, after somebody soloed, they carried fans’ eyes into the next song and were featured there, too. Shorty formed trios and duets, switched off between trumpet and trombone and did that astounding thing where he repeated a riff, tight, over and over for several minutes by breathing in through his nose while blowing hard through the horn. He and tenor man DJ Raymond roamed the crowd, honking up one aisle and down another. Back onstage, he brought his saxophonists into a three-horn cluster, combining Sidney Bechet and J.S. Bach.

So much goes on up front that we could take for granted the busy thunder of bassist DJ Raymond and drummer Joey Peebles, though we could feel it in our feet.

As an entertainer, Trombone Shorty was non-stop generous to both fans and bandmates, as hard-working as the young James Brown. Simply as a virtuoso player, he could do straight up jazz gigs for days, or just sing. And he played the very mixed audience – old and young, black and white – like his own orchestra, folks dancing side to side at their seats, bopping and shouting out.

Yeah, joy.

Photo by Michael Hochanadel

Opener DJ Trumaster managed to charm the crowd and stave off impatience, a tough gig for anybody standing between Trombone Shorty and an audience.

Alone onstage behind a table full of machinery, he started safe with James Brown, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder – a kind of soul best-of that felt like a recorded-originals extension of Doc Horton’s jukebox gig at Jazz on Jay on Thursday. Then he began to stretch and fill the sonic space with remixes, obscure tracks, and massive mutations of Elton John and (even) Fleetwood Mac hits. He meshed songs of similar beats, lyrics, and feels—Aretha’s “Respect” into LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” for example, with a nod to New Orleans mid-set with “Big Chief.” Lots of phones came out, but doing texts and games, not onstage photos, and there were more masks than I’ve seen in months. But he got his share of happy jump-around on his own terms.

Set List (snagged from the stage by a kind tech)

  • Spaced
  • Backatown
  • Do To Me
  • Let’s Go Crazy
  • On The Way Down
  • Here Come the Girls
  • Fire and Brimstone
  • Lifted – Standing There
  • Might Not Make it Back Home
  • Come Back
  • Hurricane Season

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