After seeing Extra Crispy Brass Band last weekend at The Jazz Estate during Summer Soulstice - and learning they opened for Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue last year at Turner Hall - I knew I had to see Shorty and company tonight on the opening night of Summerfest.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue took the stage in the Johnson Controls World Sound Stage to a full crowd ready to funk out with a band that wraps up a combination of hip-hop beats, rock and improvisation in a jazzy way.
Maybe you saw them on the 56th Annual Grammy Awards with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" or any number of the other shows they've played.
Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews began his career as a bandleader at the tender age of 6, and then hit the road internationally at the ripe age of 12 before joining Lenny Kravitz's horn section at the age of 19 in 2005.
The band of Orleans Avenue is comprised of Pete Murano (guitar,) Michael "Bass" Ballard (bass,) Joey Peebles (drums,) Tim McFatter (tenor sax,) and Dan Oestreicher (baritone) and they meld rock music and New Orleans musical tradition together for "Trombone."
Trombone Shorty and crew kept the crowd moving and groovin' all night long to hits such as "Backatown" and "On Your Way Down," but also brought in some covers such as Green Day's "Brain Stew" and Ray Charles "I Got A Woman." They asked the crowd to "turn it up," but they didn't even have to - the crowd was up from the first note.
As the band led into "St. James Infirmary," a Louie Armstong cover, Shorty crooned "she'll never meet a sweet man quite like me" and he could have been talking about himself, because everyone there was buying what he was selling.
Orleans Avenue's unique blend is the perfect accompaniment to Shorty's skills on the trombone and trumpet. And Murano's guitar riffs and solos were especially fantastic.
But Shorty is no less than amazing. From first note to the last, he is a sick horn player. At one point, I wished I had been timing the duration he held a note - it had to have been more than two minutes. Simply astounding.
The show was a dance party from start to finish, even the aisles had folks partying until the very end. Shorty and crew closed the show by joining Peebles around his drum set for an extended jam.
People streamed in from other stages as bands finished for the night, drawn by the infectious music coming from the under the roof, and the party got more and more crowded. No one wanted it to end.
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