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Brass Punch 

New Orleans jazz artist Trombone Shorty packs a Big Easy wallop

When New Orleans trombone player Troy Andrews—stage name Trombone Shorty—takes to Twitter, 99 percent of his posts have at least one exclamation point; sometimes three, occasionally four. In many ways, it's the perfect metaphor for a career punctuated by an explosive rise to new wave jazz greatness in one of America's most remarkable cities. The youngster—he's only 27—has cause to celebrate his already robust resume; especially considering that trombone players rarely find themselves front and center. At six he was a band leader, at 19, a backing horn player for Lenny Kravitz, and, by 23, touring with his own band and earning a Grammy nomination for his debut album. Last year, he even performed at the White House.

With five supporting instrumentalists, Andrews' jazz band Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue has blended fresh funk, hip-hop and pop. But the heart of the music they make is still that bright brass sound that been bouncing off of cobblestone streets in the French Quarter for a century. It's classic New Orleans, the city where Andrews received not only a formal musical education, but also an informal one with the kind of character only the streets of the Crescent City can offer.

Here's a glimpse into how Trombone Shorty has become an essential part of The Big Easy, and how it is an essential part of his music sensibilities:

Tremè neighborhood: Once known as "Back of Town," Tremè is an area of New Orleans that backs up to the French Quarter, and it is where Andrews grew up. In the 19th century, Tremè's Congo Square was a place where slaves gathered to socialize. Years later it became an important cultural and musical center. Now the subject of an HBO drama, Tremè is also the birth place of Shannon Powell, the noted jazz drummer known as "The King of Tremè." It was here Andrews learned about jazz not from only his bandleader brother, but also from the myriad musicians professional and novice alike who call the neighborhood home. Andrews referenced his upbringing in the title of his 2010 solo debut album Backatown.

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts: Known for producing top tier jazz musicians like Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Andrews auditioned for and was admitted a year early to the renowned institution where he was introduced to a much broader spectrum of music than he had been exposed to playing brass instruments during parades in the Tremè neighborhood.

Tipitina's: An iconic music club in Uptown New Orleans, Tipitina's is a regular gig spot for Andrews and his band. Built in 1912, Tipitina's was originally a gambling house and a brothel, before becoming a live music venue in 1977. The non-descript yellow building blends into the stark neighborhood, only revealing its down-and-dirty jazz secrets once the doors are closed and bands take the stage.

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest: Typically just shortened to Jazz Fest, the enormous live music event has been held in New Orleans since 1970. Currently taking place at a horse racing track in the historic Mid-City neighborhood, this year, Andrews supplanted The Neville Brothers as the festival's long-standing closing act.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

7 pm. Tuesday, Nov. 19

The Tower Theatre

835 NW Wall St.

Tickets $28-$60 at

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...
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