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Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue rock UB Center for the Arts


It’s rare to go to a concert and be inches away from the headlining act.

But Trombone Shorty is a rare experience, as he parades through the audience and gives Buffalo a taste of the Mardi Gras spirit.

After playing an energizing show, bringing every audience member to their feet, Trombone Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue got up close and personal with the sold-out Center for the Arts crowd.

The band detached from their microphone cords that bound them to the stage and walked around the first floor of the CFA playing Louis Armstrong’s classic second line beat “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

The night was filled with electric jazz fusion and heavy metal swing during the hour and a half concert. Shorty and his band appeared out of a thick cloud of fog and immediately got the crowd going.

“Where we come from, there’s no curfew. We can play all night,” Shorty said. “Buffalo, let’s keep this party going.”

One of the most memorable parts of the concert was Shorty’s homage to the late James Brown and fellow jazz cats Kool & The Gang.

Shorty and his band nailed their cover of “Get on Up,” as the trumpeter seamlessly pulled off some of Brown’s classic dance moves and fancy footwork. He even moonwalked across the entire stage and the crowd erupted in applause.

They transitioned into “Get Down on It,” where tenor saxophonist BK Jackson laid out an impressive range during an almost five-minute solo.

Jackson, a Buffalo native, has played with many R&B and jazz legends including Prince, Bruno Mars and Hall & Oates.

Shorty opted to play songs that were less horn-heavy and left room for solos from the band. He played a lot of material from his 2011 album For True including “Then There was You,” “The Craziest Thing” and “Buckjump.”

Buffalo native Curtis Williams was a fan of Shorty’s style of music. He didn’t know a lot of the songs that he played but he said it was one of the best concerts he’d ever gone to.

“That was incredible. He was incredible. I’ve seen YouTube videos of him playing at these gigantic festivals so to see him in such an intimate space was otherworldly,” Curtis said. “I’ve wanted to see them for a while. I didn’t really know some of the songs he was playing but they were all great songs to jam to.”

Shorty continued to interact with the crowd throughout the entire show. He would constantly ask the crowd questions and have them fill in the chorus for some songs. The artist illuminated the stage and filled the room with his warming music and a rainbow of lights and graphics playing.

Audience member Ryan Stoll, another Buffalonian, had been waiting to see Shorty live and after finally seeing him in concert he surpassed all of Stoll’s expectations.

“The concert was amazing in every way. The band was so tight and the songs were awesome,” Stoll said. “The horns were killer. It was so glorious to hear Shorty wailing on his trombone and trumpet.”

Trombone Shorty loved the Buffalo crowd. He constantly walked to the front of the stage and shook hands with fans and pointed at others as they danced along to his music.

“Shorty interacting with the crowd absolutely made the concert,” Stoll said. “I was sitting with some of my buddies and he came over and high fived all of us. He even came down and marched around the audience. It was absolutely hands down the best concert of my life.”

Stoll took part in a workshop with opening band Funky Dawgz Brass Band earlier that day. The band taught local high school students what it’s like to be in the Jazz industry and what it was like being on tour.

“We learned how to get started in a band, proper techniques and new practicing methods as well as talking about music colleges and career choices,” Stoll said. “They also played a few of their hits and my band got to go up and jam with them.”

Funky Dawgz took the stage around 7:30 and got the crowd warmed up for Shorty, playing similarly styled second line beats and rap-infused funk.

They only played for 40 minutes but the crowd warmly welcomed their energy and funky style.

Sousaphone player Mike Marsters said it was a blessing to be able to open up for Trombone Shorty and be a part of his tour.

“We’ve known about him for a long time and we love him,” Marsters said. “We first played a show with him at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut a little while back. It was great to open for someone as big as him in our home town.”

Funky Dawgz have been touring for the past three years, but this is only the second show they opened up for Trombone Shorty.

They released their first record in 2013 and are currently working on a new album that will include originals tracks and covers.

Max Kalnitz is the senior arts editor and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @mkalnitz

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