The message on For True, Trombone Shorty’s new release for Verve Forecast, is clear from the first track: One nation is back under a groove, and this time it’s the famous New Orleans neighborhood of Tremé that’s serving as the launching pad. A trombone virtuoso and a band leader since he was a small boy, Troy Andrews has been known as Trombone Shorty for years. When I spoke with him via phone from London’s Heathrow Airport last week, he told me that he has “been going to Europe to play music since I was 7.”
Now, after years of forging connections across the musical worlds of jazz, funk, rock, and hip-hop, Trombone Shorty has dropped two successful albums. The first single from For True, “Do to Me,” is a collaboration with legendary guitarist Jeff Beck, and it’s charted on both AAA radio and the Public Radio Top 22 within its first month — and it’s still climbing. The rest of the album, which consists of all original funk-rock material, features guest spots from Warren Haynes, Lenny Kravitz, Cyril and Ivan Neville, and even Kid Rock, who contributes his over-the-top vocal touch to “Mrs. Orleans.” As you might expect from such a lineup, For True rocks as hard as it rolls, and Shorty’s crack band for the album, Orleans Avenue, are the same six-piece outfit that will back him onstage at Campbell Hall this Friday. Most impressive about For True, though, is the overpowering full-production sound achieved by Count, the one-named studio maestro who, along with producer Ben Ellman, helmed these sessions. Think Parliament Funkadelic or Sly Stone crossed with the Neville Brothers and produced by Danger Mouse. It’s that chunky, this funk.
For his part, Trombone Shorty acknowledges his role as arranger with genuine modesty, but when asked what the Campbell Hall audience should expect come Friday night, he shifted gears. “They should be wearing dancing shoes, ’cause I don’t care what kind of seats they got in there: We are gonna get people up.”
Trombone Shorty plays UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Friday, October 7, at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.sa.ucsb.edu.