Trombone Shorty isn't your average jazzman
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Troy Andrews looks tired. He has every reason to be—it’s two o’clock in the morning, people are still pouring into Tipitina’s in Uptown New Orleans for his show, and he already played an hour-long set today in the pounding Louisiana sun at Jazz Fest. Folks are milling around the dressing room, but he’s quiet, sitting in the corner, straddling the arm of a beat-up leather couch and tapping out a silent solo on his tarnished vintage trumpet.
Andrews, better known as Trombone Shorty, isn’t the regular sort of New Orleans jazzman. Twenty-five years old, he’s lanky and muscular, with a thin shaved head and cheeks that swell up to the size of softballs. He’s wearing dark jeans, a gray Express polo with a red lion on the front, and around his neck a string of black beads his nephew gave him. His voice is untouched by rasp.
The dressing room looks like a family reunion—his brother Buster is here, with his father, his godmother, cousins and friends. Andrews has been on the road for a few months now, playing everywhere from Japan and Chile to Georgia and California, and so visits back home are few, brief, and dominated by studio time as he works on a new album.
Outside on Napoleon Avenue, there’s been a line building since one o’clock in the morning. Many of the people in line saw the Jazz Fest show—but all of them know that a Trombone Shorty show at Tipitina’s is not to be missed. Tickets sold out weeks ago.
The stage is dark as a hard guitar line starts “Suburbia,” a Nine Inch Nails–inspired track off Backatown, his most recent CD. Drums wind it up, the brass explodes, and the lights come up. Andrews is dressed in his trademark black wifebeater and a pair of wide designer shades, right foot braced against the stage and trombone pointed up like a piece of artillery. He no longer looks tired.