Stunningly Good Musicianship
“Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist extraordinaire” might be the best way to describe today’s Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. As a little kid with a slide trombone, Andrews, 31, first let people in on the trumpet prowess that’s on full display on Parking Lot Symphony. But there is, of course, more. Here, he’s the only guy in the band manning keyboards—B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer electric—and even plays some drums, a vibraphone and a glockenspiel. What’s particularly striking on this release, which comes almost four years after 2013’s Say This to That, is the refinement and sense of confidence heard in his vocals. That’s realized immediately on the Meters’ “It Ain’t No Use.” Andrews’ soulfulness really comes through as he modulates tones, uses vibrato and goes up for the high notes. With Shorty and his talented band diggin’ into this classic, there’s little need for a female “choir.” The women work fine as backup singers but are misplaced and a bit too angelic beneath Andrews’ strong trombone solos.
Andrews has his own sound, a much sought after treasure by all musicians. “Dirty Water,” which he wrote with Ethan Gruska, is a new tune that moves like an old friend.
Shorty has a way with the compositions of the late, great Allen Toussaint, as previously demonstrated on his great cover of “On Your Way Down.” He goes for it again on an exuberant rendition of “Here Come the Girls” with Ivan Neville helping out on piano. Amusingly, it opens with longtime drummer Joey Peebles kicking it off with a march tempo. Too much fun.
“No Good Time” offers a swaying change of pace, and “Where It At?” returns to the Shorty sound, complete with a catchy lyrical hook—“I just want my heart back…”—that’s bound to lead to a singalong from live audiences.
Andrews keeps the music close to his heart and his hometown and even swaggers a second line rhythm on “Tripped Out Slim,” in honor of his late friend. Parking Lot Symphony continues Trombone Shorty’s personal tradition of stunningly good musicianship, crowd-pleasing good material and just plain good fun.