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Trombone Shorty Revamps a New Orleans R&B Classic, From His Blue Note Debut

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Trombone Shorty has never made a secret of his affinity with New Orleans: the man and the milieu are inextricable, in musical as well as attitudinal terms. So it’s no surprise that the first single from his forthcoming Blue Note Records debut is a revamped classic from his hometown, “Here Come the Girls.”

Written by Allen Toussaint and first recorded in 1970 by Ernie K. Doe, the song acquired a contemporary sheen about a decade ago, when it formed the core of a single by the British girl group Sugababes. So it’s easy to frame Trombone Shorty’s version as a reclamation: a return to the grit and terroir of the original, with all appropriate swagger.

As on the original, the track begins with a military parade rhythm on snare drum, before the horns kick in. Trombone Shorty brings pep to the lyrics, which are playful and spirited, in a gender-retrograde way. Where Shorty has the clear advantage is in a brief but killer trombone solo, which starts at 2:40 and leads into some sturdy horn-section maneuvers.

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Trombone Shorty and his band, Orleans Avenue, are currently on tour opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’ll headline the Bowery Ballroom in New York on April 24 — four days before the release of their new album, Parking Lot Symphony, which was produced by Chris Seefried (Fitz and the Tantrums).

On May 7, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue will close the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, an honor previously granted to hometown heroes the Neville Brothers. For more dates and information, visit tromboneshorty.com.

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, Nate Chinen is editorial director at WBGO and a regular contributor to NPR Music.