It's entirely possible that Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews will one day become the face of New Orleans music, an ambassador like Armstrong or the Nevilles before him -- and that's if it hasn't happened already. He's the youngest artist to be featured on the official Jazz Fest poster, he's backed up and opened for rock stars like Lenny Kravitz, and he's played almost every major festival under the sun. At just 25 years of age he seems to have vaulted over each career challenge with little trouble or failure, and frankly, he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.
But despite that early, national success, Shorty is still a quintessentially New Orleans musician, down to his Treme roots and penchant for traditional jazz (case in point, his 2004 album "The End of the Beginning"). That's evident on his latest album, 2010's "Backatown," which has Shorty's first bonafide, Top 40-caliber single, "Something Beautiful," with Kravitz sitting in on vocals and guitar. "Right to Complain" is an up-tempo, funky tune that has a catchy chorus and a guitar riff not often found on brass albums, and "Suburbia" is one of the few brass songs that marches along so fiercely it could legitimately spark a mosh pit.
In short, we need more artists like Shorty to keep New Orleans music relevant on the national stage. Whenever he goes on tour -- to Ohio, to New York, to Germany -- he indoctrinates the untrained ear, letting them know that our city's music isn't stuffy jazz that is a chore. It's an eclectic style with adventurous guitar solos, funky riffs and beats that are often impossible not to dance along to. And when that lesson is learned, it's not easily forgotten.