Music was “embedded in the soul” of his community.
In many people’s eyes, playing two instruments is impressive - but what’s even more impressive is playing two instruments at the same time, especially when those instruments are trombone and trumpet. Each occupies your lips and lungs and requires two completely different, but very precisely coordinated sets of movement. But the fantastically talented, Troy Andrews (better known as Trombone Shorty), has figured out how to do that and more, making quite an impact on today’s music scene.
Talent can be found anywhere. You can find it onstage at Carnegie Hall, in the subway system of New York City, in the classrooms of El Sistema in Venezuela, and of course, on the streets of America’s greatest music city, New Orleans. Troy Andrews practically learned to walk in a New Orleans second-line, and by age five, he was playing professionally. He was raised by a musical family, alongside his older brother James Andrews, a well-known jazz trumpeter and grandfather, Jessie Hill, an R&B recording artist. After learning trumpet, trombone, and drums, at age eight, trombone became his principal instrument, and the club Trombone Shorts was named after him.
Trombone Shorty onstage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at age four with blues legend Bo
Even though he was appearing onstage at the New Orleans Jazz Fest at age four, Andrews still attended school. He went to the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (better known as NOCCA), where musical greats such as Harry Connick Jr. and Jon Batiste also attended. Andrews says that as he was growing up, “everyone was a musician” and that music was “embedded in the soul” of his community. Musical training in the blues and jazz is a little different from classical music. In the blues & jazz worlds, legends in the genre take young musicians under their wing and show them the ropes right there on stage, usually in front of a live audience. So Andrews learned music hard and fast, on stage with the likes of Bo Diddley, the Neville Brothers, and Lenny Kravitz all before entering his twenties.
Andrews emphasizes the importance of educating the next generation of musicians. He notes that in his unique musical education, the emphasis was always on respecting the music that came before his, and that the most important thing in music is to “be open-minded and learn all styles of music.” He continues to look up to his idols (not quite as literally as when he was only 3 feet tall) as the responsibility is passed on to him to educate the next generation of musicians.
Trombone Shorty is a leader in jazz; at thirty-six, he has an international following, a Grammy award to his name, and he is practically founding the genre that he calls “super-funk rock.” Trombone Shorty will continue to bring the traditions of New Orleans music into today’s artistic landscape with his untraditional approach to performing, recording, and educating our upcoming musicians.
“About.” Trombone Shorty, 13 June 2017, https://tromboneshorty.com/about/. PBSNewsHour. “He Was a Shorty When He Started Playing Music. Here's How He's Training the next Generation.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Oct. 2017,