Thursday, October 3, 2013


More and more horns are becoming major components of modern bands, and not just those with a retro sound.  Funk, soul and R'n'B bands have returned in a big way to the festival circuit, with the Dap-Tone Records bunch, Black Joe Lewis, even old vet Maceo Parker building audiences the last few years.  Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) leads the New Orleans end, a natural spot to have a new horn hero.  His TV appearances, including several on the popular Treme, haven't hurt matters.

With a bulging discography, Shorty has been highly active, and a bit scattered about his music.  He will, if needed, go old New Orleans school, but he's usually crossing funk with jazz, soul and a bit of hip-hop.  This latest disc doesn't make things any clearer, as he moves all over the map from track to track.  Long Weekend is disco-funk, right out of the Earth, Wind and Fire playbook.  But right after it, Fire And Brimstone is a nasty guitar groove, Kravitz with a great horn solo half-way through.  Sunrise throws another 180 turn at us, a mellow but lovely horn harmony instrumental, more smooth jazz than funk.  There's soul stuff as well, and lots and lots of vocal cuts, Shorty a decent enough singer, certainly it doesn't take away from the cuts.

It's certainly a different course than anyone else is following, but there's an awful lot of styles coming at you in a disc running under 40 minutes.  The one constant is his great horn sound (all played by him, btw).  On some cuts, such as the driving Dream On, I think he's coming close to his own signature blend, with rock, funk, real horns.  The closing instrumental, Shortyville, that's a grand one as well, where he finally lets all the horns take over.  Maybe he can just do too much.  There isn't a cut here I don't like, it just feels like there's four or five Shorty's battling it out.

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