Published Jul 01, 2013With bulging cheeks and bulging eyes, Trombone Shorty delivered on Sunday night what will surely be a defining moment of the 34th annual Montreal Jazz Festival. The native son of New Orleans' three-minute-plus trumpet solo came mid-set and had the audience members holding their breath in tandem with him — he played continuously without once removing his lips from his mouthpiece during the solo, nearly doubling over afterward. By then, he'd let each of the 800 or so attendees they were witnessing something special.
The incredibly dexterous 27-year-old trombonist, trumpeter and vocalist, along with backing band Orleans Avenue, played a very early set, particularly by New Orleans standards. Otherwise known by real name Troy Andrews, Trombone Shorty grew up playing trombone in Treme second lines and later, in French Quarter clubs. The wealth of experience was evident on a set marked by unconventional, energetic and hard-hitting covers of "American Woman," "St. James Infirmary" and "I've Got A Woman."
Each member of Orleans Avenue got their shot at a solo throughout the set, revealing their ample qualifications as individuals. But it was the ensemble playing that really triumphed here, particularly on staccato collabs between Trombone Shorty and baritone and tenor sax men Dan Oestreicher and Tim McFatter. The band's musicality was further proved during a playful battle between guitarist Pete Murano and bassist Michael "Bass" Ballard, and the finale where each member grabbed a drumstick and a spot at Joey Peebles's kit to drive the set on home. A truly remarkable, if short, set.