‘New Orleans’ brightest new star’ to play the MACCant to know how great New Orleans musician Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is? Look at who he’s played with in the last few years.
Eric Clapton wanted him for his 2010 album, “Clapton,” Jeff Beck invited him to play on a tribute to guitar legend Les Paul, and Rod Stewart needed a little New Orleans spice on his “Merry Christmas Baby” CD.
Andrews’ recent credits also range from Lenny Kravitz’s “Black and White America” and Zac Brown’s “Uncaged,” to hot producer Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Special,” She & Him’s “Classics,” the Foo Fighters’ “Sonic Highways” and Cee Lo Green’s “Cee Lo’s Magic Moment.”
And he’s played with both Prince and U2 in concert.
With Andrews’ music called “Supafunkrock,” anyone who loves James Brown’s Famous Flames horns, bands like Tower of Power, Earth, Wind & Fire and the Roots, or just funk or New Orleans music in general, is going to relish seeing the musician and his Orleans Avenue group.
The Philadelphia Daily News has proclaimed him “one of the most engaging entertainers on Earth.” The San Francisco Chronicle hailed him as “New Orleans’ brightest new star in a generation.” While Billboard said of Andrews, “Brass band, funk, rock and even some gospel-drenched soul music . . . in many ways, he is a genre unto himself.”
Influences on his latest album, “Say That to Say This,” range from the exuberant funk of Brown and Kool and the Gang to the rocking rap of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“We’re very influenced by everyone,” says Andrews. “Growing up in New Orleans, we’re exposed to so many different styles of music. It’s just a part of our blood.”
Last year, when the Foo Fighters landed in New Orleans to shoot a segment for the Dave Grohl-directed HBO series “Sonic Highways,” Andrews was interviewed discussing the culture of his home town. He ended up playing on the band’s latest album and joined them at their Voodoo Music Experience concert.
“Ten minutes and an earth-shattering trombone solo later, Andrews had successfully turned the Foo Fighters’ debut single, ‘This is a Call,’ into a full-fledged jazz superjam,” raved a review.
“We developed a friendship,” says Andrews. “I’ve played with the Foo Fighters about three times now. It’s a great jam every time I get with them.”
In his just published children’s book, “Trombone Shorty,” Andrews details how a young child grew up to become a world-class musician. It includes a photo of his first appearance on stage at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, as a 4-year-old trombonist with rock ‘n’ roll legend Bo Diddley.
“I was so young, I remember it vaguely,” he says. “I didn’t even know who he was until later on in life. We had just played a street parade inside the festival and I was blowing my horn and had this really loud note. My mom was telling me to be quiet, and Bo Diddley says, ‘Who is that stepping on my show?’ People lifted me up and said, ‘It’s him.’ They crowd-surfed me to the stage.”
And that’s kind of how he got his nickname, playing an instrument that dwarfed his body.
“It was much bigger,” he recalls, chuckling. “In the picture with Bo Diddley, I’m almost tilting over.”
He quickly became so proficient on his instrument that by the age of 8, a club in the city’s Treme district, where he was born and raised, was named Trombone Shorts in his honor.
By the age of 19, Andrews was touring the world as a member of Kravitz’s band. As a 20-year-old, he was invited to perform with U2 during the reopening of the New Orleans Superdome for the NFL’s Monday Night Football pre-game show following Hurricane Katrina.
The virtuoso trombonist had first caught the attention of U2’s Bono and the Edge during their visit to a New Orleans club a few years earlier. “We walked in and the place was jumping,” the Edge recalled in an interview. “We were just mesmerized by him.”
When discussions began about the momentous Superdome gig, they flew him out to London.
“The Edge is a big New Orleans music fan,” Andrews explains. “A good friend of mine, producer Bob Ezrin, and the Edge organized Music Rising, which helps musicians who lost things during Hurricane Katrina, and I was helping them out on the ground. So I was in London at Abbey Road Studios sitting at a table with U2, Green Day, Rick Rubin and myself. I was like the New Orleans person. I played with them at the show for the Saints. It was wonderful.”
The release of a live recording from the event of the song “The Saints are Coming” raised more than $1.2 million for New Orleans musicians.
With his band, Orleans Avenue, Andrews made his major label debut in 2010, with the Grammy-nominated album “Backatown.” Comparing his sweet vocals with Stevie Wonder, a Washington Post review praised Andrews as the “singer-trombonist who bridges the gap between rock, funk and jazz.” Also in 2010, he joined fellow New Orleans musicians Wynton Marsalis and Allan Toussaint on Clapton’s album “Clapton.” And he began appearing as himself on HBO’s acclaimed drama “Treme.”
Andrews’ follow-up recording, “For True,” attracted a host of guest artists including Kravitz, Kid Rock, the Allman Brothers’ Warren Haynes, Ivan and Cyril Neville, the Rebirth Brass Band and British guitar legend Beck.
“I was completely blown away,” Beck reported in Mojo magazine on first encountering the trombonist at a Tipitina’s gig.
“I met him in New Orleans at a late-night show,” Andrews recalls of Beck. “From there, he invited me to play with him at his Jazz Fest set. I was very honored. I went on tour with him, opening up in the U.K., and he played on my album and I played on his album. I get very inspired when I’m on stage with one of the world’s greatest guitar players, and I’m always trying to steal some licks from him.”
And then there’s Prince, who at the 2014 Essence Festival at the Superdome, invited Andrews to help close the show before 45,000 fans.
“I’m a big Prince fan, it was unbelievable,” says Andrews. “To be on stage with him was an unbelievable experience. I still can’t believe it really happened.”
Another major highlight of his life includes his performance alongside greats like B.B. King, Mick Jagger and Beck at the “In Performance at the White House: Red, White & Blues” celebration in 2012. He performed “St. James Infirmary,” with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama joining in on the famous chorus of Cab Calloway’s version.
“It was amazing,” he marvels. “I was jamming on stage and there’s the president and first lady singing along. It was a dream come true.”
Making his Hawaii debut next week, Andrews is eager to introduce his exuberant musical gumbo to the islands.
“I’ve been all over the world, but I’ve never been to Hawaii,” he says. “I’m really excited.”
So what can we expect?
“It’s definitely going to be an all-night dance party, very high energy. It’s going to be rocking, we’re basically bringing Mardi Gras.”
After their sold-out reunion show last November, multi-Hoku Award-winners Amy Hanaiali’i and Willie K will team again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the MACC for “Amy & Willie K – Hana Hou!”
Two of Hawaii’s favorite musical stars released “Reunion” last year, their first studio album in 15 years. Reflecting the breadth of their combined talents, it ranged from a rocking “Hawaiian Man” and moving country/gospel flavored ballads to timeless sounding hula songs. The duo has reported plans to release further collaborations.
Tickets are $12, $28, $40, and $55 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or by visiting www.mauiarts.org.
Walter Keale will perform at a free release party for his latest album, “Aina Kaula: Motherland,” from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Hula Grill Kaanapali. A member of the Hoku Award-winning group Kaukahi, this gifted musician’s previous albums include “Kahikina” and “Kawelona.”
Songs on the new album include Hawaiian classics like “Hi’ilawe” and Queen Liliuokalani’s “Manu Kapalulu,” which his cousins Skippy and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole used to sing; Palani Vaughn’s “Kamamakakaua”; and his take on Natalie Merchant’s “Motherland.” Guests on the album include Paula Fuga and Stephen Inglis.
This First Sunday Music Series event also features Benny Uyetake, Max Angel and CJ “Boom” Helekahi. For more information, call 667-6636.