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Trombone Shorty Plays UCSB

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Trombone Shorty Brings Funky Jazz Party
To Generations of Santa Barbara Music Lovers
L. Paul Mann

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New Orleans Jazz Funk master Troy Andrews (better known as Trombone Shorty), together with his band Orleans Avenue, played a dance infused concert at UCSB Campbell Hall. The concert was yet another sold out event in the UCSB Arts and Lectures concert series, which has become more popular than ever this season.

The UCSB Arts and Lectures organization was founded way back in 1959. Fifty four years later the group continues to expand their cultural outreach program producing over one hundred events at UCSB and surrounding Santa Barbara venues every year. The organizations stated mission is to “educate, entertain and inspire”. To that end, UCSB Arts and Lectures has also developed an educational outreach program featuring master classes, open rehearsals, lecture-demonstrations and classroom discussions with visiting artists and speakers at UCSB, as well as local elementary and high schools. Last year, more than 11,000 college and school-aged students participated in 81 educational outreach events hosted by Arts & Lectures.

The Trombone Shorty concert Thursday night combined all of these lofty goals into a riveting evening of musical education for Santa Barbara’s young and old. Just like he did, when he played at the same venue a few years ago, Andrews invited aspiring local high school musicians to attend the bands rehearsal. Then the band proceeded to perform a spirited jam session, inviting the young musicians who brought their own instruments to play with them. Andrews allowed each of the nervous but determined young jazz buffs, to take a turn leading the band with their trumpets or trombones. Some performances by the youths were very good, while others not so great, but Andrews and the band encouraged , and no doubt inspired every young musician brave enough to take the main stage challenge. One young trumpeter who took the challenge was Jason Gonzalez Larsen, a San Marcos High School student who was encouraged to attend the event by his music teacher, Kiyoi Roblis. Asked why his was more interested in Jazz than pop music like most people his age, he credited his father with introducing him to Jazz music and the bible of Jazz, “The Real Book”. In fact, nearly every student I chatted with credited their dads with influencing their interest in Jazz Music. Way to go fathers, keeping alive the most intricate and complicated form of pop music today.

The Grammy award nominated Andrews and his band of crack Jazz Funk Rockers, then proceeded to play a nearly two hour set for the sold out crowd of much older Jazz fans in the packed auditorium. All the musicians in Orleans Avenue, showcased their immense talents in solo jam sessions. The band features, Mike Ballard on bass, Dan Oestreicher on baritone sax, Tim McFatter on tenor sax, Pete Murano on guitar and Joey Peebles on drums. The 16 song set list included much of the bands newest material and some older classics. The band also played several covers, from musicians as diverse as “Louis Armstrong” and “The Guess Who”. Andrews is a consummate showman born in the musical melting pot of New Orleans rhythms. He sings, dances and tells humorous anecdotes about his musical creations. But his greatest talents are his masterful abilities on the trombone and trumpet, offering up uncanny extended solos, with a seemingly unending supply of air in his lungs. Trombone Shorty has been a member of the legendary “New Orleans Social Club”, since 2005. He got together with other famous musicians from the region to make music to raise money for victims of the devastating Hurricane Katrina. His fame grew after being called upon to fly to London to work with U2. But it has been his relentless touring with his current band, over the last several years, playing nearly every major music festival in the country that has made him a familiar face in today’s pop music world. (He is set to play at this years Coachella festival).

The Santa Barbara show ended with the usually sedate academic crowd at the University all up on their feet. Most were compelled to start dancing, New Orleans style, to a rousing encore jam . Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue seem to be keeping traditional Jazz alive in their own unique mix for generations of new music fans.

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