Trombone Shorty slides into Atlanta

Trombone Shorty in Atlanta

Doors open 7 p.m., show at 8 pm Wednesday, Nov. 13. $37.50 at The Buckhead Theater, 3110 Roswell Road Atlanta. 404-891-6168.

Trombone Shorty’s new album, “Say That to Say This,” released in September has already made history.

It brought together the members of the seminal New Orleans band, the Meters, to record for the first time in more than three decades. They back Trombone Shorty on “Be My Lady,” a song the Meters first recorded in 1977.

“They know how much they mean to New Orleans music, and I know how much they mean,” said Trombone Shorty, who plays the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta November 13. “I don’t know what the contemporary sound of New Orleans music would sound like if the Meters didn’t do what they did.”

During the Meters initial run from 1965-1977, Art Neville, George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli and Zigaboo Modeliste (with Cyril Neville added to the lineup a bit later) forged a trailblazing sound that blended funk and the traditional second-line rhythms of New Orleans with rock, jazz and soul.

The idea of the reunion happened casually enough. Trombone Shorty, whose real names is Troy Andrews, had been working on “Say That to Say This” and was listening to classic music made in that city.

“So the Meters thing came on and I was like ‘Man, they’ve got everything that represents my band, vocals, horn parts, funky grooves, and I was like ‘Let’s re-do that song.’”

Andrews had one thing in his favor. He knew them. The elder musicians had watched him as he grew up, starting out as a child prodigy – he started playing trombone at age six – and attending the prestigious New Orleans Center for Creative Arts before embarking on a recording career that includes a half dozen albums that have established him as arguably the brightest young talent on the city’s music scene.

So Andrews phoned each member of the Meters to ask their help. He could tell each of guys, if reluctant, was also intrigued. One by one, they signed on and met in the studio.

“On one take, they just went into this thing that made the Meters to me. They just kept playing, and everybody’s grooving and Leo kicked off a little rhythm, on the guitar, and the rest of them followed,”

Andrews said. “At that very moment I said I’ve just witnessed how they were creating all of that great music back in the day. They stopped after about five minutes, ‘All right, all right, we’re here to work. We’ve got to get (this song done).’ And they just broke it down. I knew at that moment, that showed me they really missed each other.

“They were really cool and you could just see how much music and creativity they still have left and how fresh it is,” Andrews said.

“Be My Lady” is one of many high points on “Say That To Say This.”

It’s silky funk sound provides a relaxed change of pace on an album that finds Andrews continuing to develop his distinctive hybrid of New Orleans funk, jazz, soul and gritty rock and roll. This collision of styles is especially effective on songs like “You And I (Outta This Place),” “Fire and Brimstone” and the title track, where guitar riffs, punchy, sharp syncopated rhythms and jazzy horn lines make for a modern, enervating and original type of New Orleans music.

The rocking character of the music is what sets Andrews apart from other New Orleans artists. It’s a side to his tastes that he began exploring during high school after discovering bands like Nine Inch Nails.

“I just thought this was some cool music,” Andrews said. “When I had my breaks, instead of going on lunch break, I’d go to the practice room and play with the Walkman and try to figure out some interesting things to play over Nine Inch Nails.”

But what really helped Andrews figure out how to bring together his rock style and his New Orleans musical roots was getting hired by Lenny Kravitz right out of high school to play in his touring band.

“Once I did that, I was able to come back to New Orleans and add what I learned from him to my New Orleans (sound). Now you had the sound that you hear now.”

Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Avenue are busy bringing their energetic music to the people on a fall tour and trying to introduce audiences to songs from “Say That to Say This.”

“We’ve been doing some music from our previous records and then we’ve been trying to slide in four or five songs from the new record here and there,” Andrews said. “It’s all about the timing of it because everybody doesn’t have the record yet. So we’re just trying to figure out what’s a good way to slide them in. We’ve been doing it mostly toward the end of the set, after we get everything out of the way.

Then we hit them full swing slipping in the new material there. So it’s been really cool.”