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Great Albums You May Have Missed: Trombone Shorty's Backatown (2010)
Great Albums You Might Have Missed finishes up our focus on the upcoming 2011 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with our third classic album from this years performer’s. We have looked at some of the past and current music scenes of The Big Easy, now get ready for the future; Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue’s Backatown.
Troy Andrews (aka Trombone Shorty) is a legend in the New Orleans music community and shockingly he is only 25 years old. He earned his nickname from his young virtuosity, having played professionally at the age of 5; he was playing a trombone that was actually bigger then he was!
Growing up Andrews attended the famous New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts studying multiple instruments, he plays an array of them expertly on stage and on this record. Troy also had the pleasure of meeting most of his Orleans Avenue band mates at NOCCA and around his local neighborhood.
Coming from 6th Ward or the Treme section of New Orleans, Shorty has also recently starred as himself in the HBO series based on his neighborhood. Andrews has had an amazing career by most peoples standards and it is really just beginning, Backatown is the world’s first exposure to his engaging “Supafunkrock” sound
The opening “Hurricane Season” sets the tone with its funky drums popping before the powerful guitars and brass over take the action. The track grooves alongside party chants of “Hey!” which invite the crowd to join in the fun while showing off the outfits blending of Jazz, Rock, Funk, and just plain good time music that their hometown loves them for.
Paying homage to the past, the legendary Allen Toussaint joins on a straight ahead cover of his own “On Your Way Down” while Lenny Kravitz straps in for the get-down love jam “Show Me Something Beautiful” in order to woo the fairer sex. Marc Broussard adds some vocals to “Right To Complain” as the band gets worked up over inaction, but there is no stagnation in the groups exhilarating instrumental work.
The title tracks electro keys underscore as the riff riding horns motor all over, “In The 6th” hits the lower registers as the brass and cymbals strut and “The Cure” uses a crunching guitar line as a backbone while trumpets flare off in all directions.
There are two top end instrumental outings on Backatown that need some special attention. The rhythmically intoxicating, trumpet pumping “Neph” showcases Shorty’s touch on his non-nicknamed instrument. The other is the spasmodic assault contained on the driving “Surburbia”. This tune pulls the whole group into the fold and blasts the speakers with its stop on a dime tempo changes, electric guitar solos and fierce interplay between everyone involved.
I dare you not to bob your head when listening to this one, it is next to impossible. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue have managed to fuse rock/hip-hop/jazz/funk together, cooking up an audio gumbo that will get you fat before you are compelled to dance off the calories.
Crowd participation and live playing is the foundation of this (and many other) New Orleans groups existence. The magic of an album like Backatown is that you can feel the energy seep out of the headphones causing your booty to shake involuntary, while it also flashes moments of virtuoso brilliance that can be admired in more relaxed settings.
Out of all the current southern stars in the Crescent City, Trombone Shorty may end up shining the brightest. Hopefully you will get a chance to see him and countless others on stage, but if you can’t make it down to this year’s festival (which starts Friday) take out the album and get a sweet taste.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
IN THE NYPL CATALOG:
To preview some great tracks from Backatownclick the links below:
Please Note: online audio tracks are an excellent source for previewing, but are compressed and do not match CD quality audio.