Trombone Shorty brought a little bit of New Orleans to Central Park’s SummerStage on a Wednesday in August. The four act, review is touring to celebrate New Orleans 300th anniversary. The review brought the party, and high energy created by the cities musicians and it also brought the heat. I mean HEAT! At show time the temperature was close to 90 degrees and humid. If you closed your eyes you literally felt as though you were in New Orleans.
The show started promptly at 6 with the New Breed Brass Band. The bands mix of funk, rock, hip hop, and jazz got everyone dancing. The seven member New Orleans brass band played a tight 20 minute nonstop set that primed the incoming sold out crowd.
The second act was New Orleans’ veteran Preservation Hall Brass Band. Ben Jaffe, the band’s creative director guided the band through a rousing set. Their forty minute set commenced with “Go To New Orleans”. Guest trumpet player Kermit Ruffin joined the band for a lively “Lil Liza Jane.” By the time the band climaxed with “That’s It” the bulk of the crowd was up dancing, waving their arms, and clapping their hands.
Next came the jazz-funk jam band Galactic. By this time the crowd was primed. The heat and the alcohol began to take its toll on a few of the overly enthusiastic members of the crowd. During the opening number “Baker’s Dozen” guitarist Jeff Raines seemed a bit distracted with the medical team aiding some members of the crowd. Vocalist Erica Falls was introduced by saxophonist Ben Ellman and belted out three songs including “Dolla Diva.” Walter Wolfman Washington played one number with the band. It was a treat to hear Washington accompanied by a horn section. Erica Falls reappeared and ended the set with the Pointer Sister’s cover “Going Down Slowly.”
Finally it was time for Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Avenue. Smoke was pumped onstage, the band emerged and seconds later Shorty added his horn to “Buckjump.” I have seen Trombone Shorty since he was seventeen years old and am amazed at how he has matured as a performer and band leader. Trombone Shorty can be compared to a James Brown with a trombone. He conducted his band during the entire performance. Early in the set the band acknowledged New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint covering “On Your Way Down.” During “Here Come The Girls” Shorty showed just how long he could hold a note. Through circular breathing the note was held what seemed indefinitely to the roaring approval of the crowd. Guest vocalist Cyril Neville upped the funk with singing The Meters “No More Okey Doke” and “Fire On The Bayou.” For the encore New Breed Brass Band emerged for the call and response of “Hurricane Season” and finally “Do To Me” wrapped up the set.
The Voodoo Threuxdown was a resounding success. Everyone was treated to four solid hours of New Orleans infused funk. Only while walking out of Central Park was I quickly reminded I was in the heart of Manhattan.
Preservation Hall Brass Band
New Breed Brass Band