It’s 1990 and a four-year-old boy by the name of Troy Andrews is pushed towards the trombone. He comes from a family of trumpet players and lives in New Orleans, a city rich with jazz and art. This man is now known as Trombone Shorty and he has made a name for himself in the hip hop, jazz and even rock industry.
Trombone Shorty grew up in the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans which is most known for its Creole influences and its tradition of the modern big brass band. At age six, Andrews became a bandleader and was preforming in big band parades. You can hear a 13-year-old Andrews on YouTube playing Duke Ellington’s Second Line with the Lincoln Center Jazz orchestra with impeccable tone.
As a teenager he was a part of the Stooges Brass Band, a music group native to New Orleans formed in 1996. In 2005, he joined Lenny Kravitz band on tour. He also preformed with U2 and Green Day a year later after working with producer Bob Ezrin in London.
After Hurricane Katrina hit his city, Andrews became a part of the New Orleans Social Club, a group of musicians that recorded a benefit album for the disaster. He was featured on the song “Hey Troy, Your Mamas Calling You,” which was a tribute to the funk and soul musician Jimmy Castor Bunch.
In 2010, Andrews released his first album “Backtown” which was nominated for best contemporary jazz album in the 2011 Grammys. While “Backtown” is a jazz album, it includes elements of rock and R&B with feature Lenny Kravitz, Marc Brossard and Allen Toussaint. His latest single with Little Big Town called Jambalaya (On the Bayou) has a more traditional big band feel with its rhythm and instrumentation. His most recent 2017 album Parking Lot Symphony opens and closes with a dirge, or a funeral march. Laveau Dirge No.1 has a slower tempo and a somber melody, but the rest of the album becomes more bold and joyful. Andrews says that “Even in the toughest of times, music brings unity,” and this album truly reflects this mindset.
Andrew has performed at the White House two times; the first being in 2012 for a Black History Month celebration. The event premiered on CBS and included performances from B.B. King, Jeff Beck and Mick Jagger. On Dec. 5, 2015, he performed “Jingle Bells” for the national Christmas tree lighting.
In 2014, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue led for the NBA all-star game along with some other notable musicians including Dr. John, Janelle Monae, Gary Clark Jr and Earth Wind and Fire.
Perhaps his most impactful and philanthropic project is the Trombone Shorty Foundation. He collaborated with the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu in 2013 and created a program to help high school students in the city. It was designed to provide instruments to the students and connect them to music education. Every year, the program presents “Shorty Fest” which features a lineup of various performers.
The program is a way for Andrews to give back to his community. On the website he’s quoted saying, “Before you can understand how much music means to me you have to know how important it is to my hometown, my greatest inspiration.” New Orleans truly gave Andrews his musical individuality.
Most recently, Andrews performed at the Ulster County Arts Center this past Sunday, Sept. 26. His performances have been described as highly energetic and interactive with the audience.
To support the Trombone Shorty Foundation and to find information about the 2021 tour you can visit his website, tromboneshorty.com.