People such as Troy Roberts – a.k.a. Trombone Shorty – are born once in a generation because, in the words of Horace, poeta nascitur non fit (a poet is born, not made). However, that might suggest a phenomenon that is more common than it actually is. In fact, in a kind of supernatural way, it isn’t and you would be scratching your head to kingdom come to think of many more names – in music, at any rate – than Mr Roberts and Joey Alexander in this generation. In Parking Lot Symphony a sweeping futuristic testament to the music created the popular music of this generation from the advent of and from Sly and the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix to middle- and late-Miles Davis and beyond.
However, unlike the myriad clones and blind copycats of ‘said musicians’ Trombone Shorty has distilled the essence of the music that revolutionised the only important current styles of music, i.e., Jazz and Hip-Hop and Rap, which is, in turn, all of popular music today (with due apologies to the pseudo-experts who run the music business today. There is good news here as well and it lies in the fact that Trombone Shorty is part of the New Blue Note roster of musicians (although something interesting must surely be happening in the cheque-books of ‘the powers that be’ for them to chance their arm on someone like Trombone Shorty). Remember, other musicians who are equally talented, if not as ingenious, are left to nibble at their fingernails anxiously as they launch and monitor the progress of self-funding campaigns to put their music out where it ought to be, in the ear of the listener.
So, well…lucky Trombone Shorty; lucky for now… Still Parking Lot Symphony does ‘sell itself’. It is a viscerally energetic, carousing and breathtakingly exciting record. It presents the music of Trombone Shorty from its beautiful, funereal beginnings on “Laveau Dirge no. 1” on the streets of NOLA through the stratospheric music that tore open the possibilities of popular music from Woodstock (1969) and Sly Stone, and Jimi Hendrix, through the 1970s with Miles Davis and the biting irony of Bitches Brew, Live Evil and so on… It is also no accident that Trombone Shorty chose to drop the word “symphony” into the title of this recording as becomes evident not only in the song itself, but in the rest of the music itself, which is clearly written in such a way that it utilised a palette as broad and colourful as one might find in chamber – or larger – to use his word, “symphonic” environs.
Part of the success of the record – or any record by Trombone Shorty actually – will always be a result of his phenomenal ability to play any instrument. These include melodic ones such as the trumpet and the trombone (brass), which gives his music palette an earthy bronzing thanks to a myriad greens and gold’s. There is also the fact that Trombone Shorty is a virtuoso pianist, who extends his keyboard skills to the Fender Rhodes and the Wurlitzer and the Hammond B3, thus extending the range of colours, timbre and textures accessible to him exponentially. Add to that his ability to play a battery of percussion – including mallet-percussion – instruments in a manner that comes naturally to him. The icing on this cake includes not only that is singing instrument – his voice – is lustrous and precise, but that he is a writer who is able to exploit literally all of this with seemingly limitless power.
Parking Lot Symphony incorporates all of this in the most meaningful way so that its music becomes an exhibition of gleamingly blended tonal quality. And we are treated to the splendour of the raw energy of second line funk with all of the magnificent fluid dynamics that go with it, the spacious bloom of the Blues, sung with vigour even as spills out in to the Jook Joint and its rampant jitterbugging Jazz before returning to the portals of a Holy Rolling AME church and then back again. This is a very potent and very special brew from a very special Southern Gentleman.
Track List – 1: Laveau Dirge no. 1; 2: It Ain’t No Use; 3: Parking Lot Symphony; 4; Dirty Water; 5: Here Come the Girls; 6: Tripped Out Slim; 7: Familiar; 8: No Good Time; 9: Where It At? 10: Fanfare; 11: Like a Dog; 12: Laveau Dirge Finale
Personnel – Troy Andrews: trombone (1 – 12), trumpet (1 – 12), tuba (6), vocals (2 – 5, 7, 9), guitar (6,), piano (9), Fender Rhodes (3 – 5, 7), Wurlitzer electric piano (3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11), Hammond B3 (7 – 10), drums (8, 9), percussion (10), snare (9, 10, 12), tom-toms (11), glockenspiel (12), vibraphone (12); Dan Oestereicher: baritone saxophone (1 – 12); BK Jackson: tenor saxophone (1 – 12) ; Pete Murano: electric guitar (4 – 8, 10 – 12); Tony Hall: bass guitar (4 – 12); Joey Peebles: drums (2 – 12); Chris Seefried: glockenspiel (2, ), mellotron (2, 3, 5, 8), sitar (2), electric sitar (8), piano (8); Leo Nocentelli: acoustic guitar (2); Ramon Islas: conga and tambourine (2); Paul Cartwright: viola and violin (3); Ivan Neville: piano (5); Juan Covarrubias: synthesizer (7); Glenn Hall: Wurlitzer (12); Tracci Lee: choir (2, 3, 8, 9, 12); Ashley Doucett: choir (2), Sabrina Hayes: choir (2); India Favorite: choir (2); Faith Mack: choir (2); Chrishira Perrier: choir (3, 8, 9, 12); Remonda Davis: choir (3, 8, 9, 12); Raion Ramsey: choir (3, 8, 9, 12), Ashley Watson: choir (3, 8, 9, 12), Lonel Simmons: choir (3, 8, 9, 12)
Released – 2017
Label – Blue Note
Runtime – 42:50