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It was after midnight when Trombone Shorty stepped offstage at the House of Blues in New Orleans, but he wasn’t done playing yet. Not by a long shot.
Take a listen to Lifted, Trombone Shorty’s second release for Blue Note Records, and you’ll hear that same ecstatic energy coursing through the entire collection. Recorded at Shorty’s own Buckjump Studio with producer Chris Seefried (Fitz and the Tantrums, Andra Day), the album finds the GRAMMY-nominated NOLA icon and his bandmates tapping into the raw power and exhilarating grooves of their legendary live show, channeling it all into a series of tight, explosive performances that blur the lines between funk, soul, R&B, and psychedelic rock. The writing is bold and self-assured, standing up to hard times and loss with grit and determination, and the playing is muscular to match, mixing pop gleam with hip-hop swagger and second line abandon. Wild as all that may sound, Lifted is still the work of a master craftsman, and the album’s nimble arrangements and judicious use of special guests—from Gary Clark Jr. and Lauren Daigle to the rhythm section from Shorty’s high school marching band—ultimately yields a collection that’s as refined as it is rapturous, one that balances technical virtuosity and emotional release in equal measure as it celebrates music’s primal power to bring us all together.
If anybody knows their way around a festival, it’s Trombone Shorty. Born Troy Andrews, he got his start (and nickname) earlier than most: at four, he made his first appearance at Jazz Fest performing with Bo Diddley; at six, he was leading his own brass band; and by his teenage years, he was hired by Lenny Kravitz to join the band he assembled for his Electric Church World Tour. Shorty’s proven he’s more than just a horn player, though. Catch a gig, open the pages of the New York Times or Vanity Fair, flip on any late-night TV show and you’ll see an undeniable star with utterly magnetic charisma, a natural born showman who can command an audience with the best of them. Since 2010, he’s released four chart topping studio albums; toured with everyone from Jeff Beck to the Red Hot Chili Peppers; collaborated across genres with Pharrell, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Foo Fighters, ZHU, Zac Brown, Normani, Ringo Starr, and countless more; played Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Newport Folk, Newport Jazz, and nearly every other major festival; performed four times at the GRAMMY Awards, five times at the White House, on dozens of TV shows, and at the star-studded Sesame Street Gala, where he was honored with his own Muppet; launched the Trombone Shorty Foundation to support youth music education; and received the prestigious Caldecott Honor for his first children’s book. Meanwhile in New Orleans, Shorty now leads his own Mardi Gras parade atop a giant float crafted in his likeness, hosts the annual Voodoo Threauxdown shows that have drawn guests including Usher, Nick Jonas, Dierks Bentley, Andra Day, and Leon Bridges to sit in with his band, and has taken over the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s hallowed final set, which has seen him closing out the internationally renowned gathering after performances by the likes of Neil Young, the Black Keys, and Kings of Leon.
As if his New Orleans roots weren’t already deep enough, Shorty decided to take over a recording studio in the Lower Garden District after the release of his latest album, 2017’s Seefried-produced Parking Lot Symphony. Dubbing the space Buckjump in a nod to the second lines he grew up playing in, Shortly immediately set about converting the studio into a freewheeling sonic laboratory, one where he and his friends could push themselves creatively without any artistic or commercial restraints.
For Trombone Shorty, the show never ends. Not by a long shot.