Artsweek

Trombone Shorty Makes Santa Barbara Dance

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue made a grand return to the Campbell Hall stage last Tuesday night for a sold out show presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. The performance was electrifying.

The audience was very diverse with many university students, professors and community members and their kids. Before the concert began, the hall buzzed with excited, friendly chatter, which I have found is not always the case at concerts in Campbell Hall. The crowd was well-prepared for the energy and excitement that the performers were about to bring.

The band, which consists of a guitarist, tenor saxophonist, baritone saxophonist, bass guitarist and drummer, entered the stage first and laid down a high-tension groove for Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews) to come in with. He entered with trumpet and trombone in hand, arms raised in the air and a huge smile on his face.

While his grandiose entrance was certainly enthusing, I felt that it created an inequality between him and the rest of the band which lasted throughout the concert. This showy display of his leadership and perhaps his musical excellence over the rest of the group lingered with some annoyance throughout the show. In any case, the band was no doubt on par with Andrews in their enthusiasm and musicianship. Andrews — who provides trumpet and vocals along with trombone — is a great performer, and thus needs a band that can support and match that brilliance.

The group performs a blend of styles, ranging from jazz to funk to hip-hop and even rock. Andrews mentioned his passion for merging the old and the new. He explained that the fusion of these genres creates a unique and invigorating performance which lends itself well to dancing for a wide age group.

Right from the start, many audience members stood up from their seats and made their way to the aisles to boogie. I particularly enjoyed one woman of my parents’ generation who danced with a parasol and Mardi Gras beads. The beads wound up around Trombone Shorty’s neck by the end of the concert.

Each member of the group performed solos throughout the show. Their technical prowess was obvious, but their musicality was even more striking. Their ability to perform in the older styles while bringing new and fresh ideas was thrilling. At one point, the drummer took an extended solo without the rest of the band backing him. I could hear samba rhythms, hardcore elements, African drumming patterns, as well as a plethora of others that were both familiar and foreign to me. By the end of the show, the entire audience was standing, with a majority at the front of the stage in a frenzy.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue continued their tour at the Grammys last weekend. Many viewers were disappointed in their lack of recognition and air time, and were left wanting more. I am certain that everyone in attendance at the UCSB show feels very lucky for having had the opportunity to be a part of a fantastic show, performed by such distinguished musicians and that it was more than satisfying. But it’s safe to say that even then, we still want more!

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Photo by Peter Vandenbelt / Daily Nexus.

A version of this story appeared on page 9 of Thursday, January 30, 2014′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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