A blast of authentic Louisiana flavor hit the stage at Humphreys by the Bay as New Orleans-based acts Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Galactic played a double bill of jazz, funk, R&B, and everything in between.
Both bands are regulars of world-renowned events like the amazing New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, so it was a treat to see these talented musicians perform in San Diego. Humphreys was set up as general admission for this show without the usual rows of white seats. A large group of fans took the opportunity to pack the lawn in front of the stage and dance together to the grooving music. Others looked on from kayaks and boats floating in the water that borders the venue.
Galactic are one of those bands that must be experienced live — their recordings are great but don’t do them enough justice. To try and classify their sound would take too many words, but it’s a wide-ranging blend of jazz, funk, rock, and pretty much any music that has a good rhythm. All of the band members have spent years honing their jazz improvisational skills, and all of the songs in the set featured long solo sections that gave the musicians a chance to stretch out and jam.
As always, drummer Stanton Moore — the living authority on jazz and funk drumming — was a highlight. His performance was phenomenal as he played different rhythms with his hands and feet across his huge Gretsch kit and many percussion accessories. Guest singer Maggie Koerner was on fire, her vocals pairing well with Galactic’s funk/roots sound. The new single “Dollar Diva” was a set standout as she deftly took on the rap parts originally recorded by Revivalists frontman Dave Shaw. An entire record of collaborations between her and the band would be a welcome addition to their catalog.
Multi-instrumentalist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and his band Orleans Avenue were the headliners for the evening. His group of younger jazz pros put on a master class in performance as they tore through tunes from Shorty’s latest album, 2013’s Say That to This.
Trombone Shorty made his eponymous instrument sing. The trombone has a tendency to create harsh and honking tones, but he played the instrument much more like a trumpet, leading his band gracefully through the melodies of his songs. Andrews is also a skilled singer, rapper, and trumpet player, and all those talents were on display at Humphreys. A highlight of the evening was when Stanton Moore joined the band on stage toward the end of their set for an extended jam. There wasn’t anyone left in the venue not grooving or nodding along to these masters of the beat.