New Orleans' Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews knows the music biz inside out. Hounded for years by friends and music business types to jump into the game, he understood the lessons of his lineage elders: too many had been been ripped off and discarded. He took his time, assembling, rehearsing, and touring Orleans Avenue, a band steeped in brass band history, jazz improv, funk, soul, rock, and hip hop. He finally signed to Verve Forecast and released Backatown in April of 2010. Entering at number one on the jazz charts, it stayed there for nine straight weeks, and was in the Top Ten for over six months. For True hits while Backatown is climbing again. Chock-full of cameos it is an extension, but sonically different. It's production is crisper, but the musical diversity more pushes further. In addition to trombone, Shorty plays trumpet, organ, piano, drums, synths, and, of course, sings. Orleans Avenue colors the rest. They are tighter, even more confident, and perhaps even more adventurous here. Though Shorty handles some tracks playing all the instruments himself, or with a guest or two, OA bear the lion's share with gravitas. “Buckjump” is the first clue that this is part two -- it could have been the closing track on Backatown. The Rebirth Brass Band guest and play a big funky horn chart as Shorty's big trombone solo greases the skids. NOLA's Weebie chants in tandem with the break-heavy rhythm track. "Encore" (written with Motown's Lamont Dozier) showcases some of Shorty's B-3 and soulful vocal skills, as Warren Haynes lends his trademark guitar sound. The title track, one of the album's brief musical interludes, features Shorty's solo with a killer trumpet break. “Do to Me” has a melody constructed around Shorty's smoking bone solo and a knife-edged guitar solo from Jeff Beck. "The Craziest Things" and "Dumaine Street" showcase Shorty's and Orleans Avenue's collective ability to create locking, complementary grooves; they play funky second-line rhythms countered by a jazz horn chart and improv in an R&B tune on the former, and a marching stepper on the latter. Ivan and Cyril Neville help with some fine vocal work on "Nervis," and Ledisi's stellar performance on the swinging rhythm & blues “Then There Was You” shines. "Mrs. Orleans" featuring Kid Rock's out-of-place, boisterous rap, could have been left off without the album suffering. The cut "Big 12," with producer Ben Ellman on blues harmonica, is titled for Shorty's older brother James' nickname, it kicks with big bass drums, hi-hat, and snares, locked on horns, rock guitar vamps, and a dubwise bassline. Ultimately, comparing For True to Backatown is pointless: they are of a piece, experimental records that show different sides of his identity besides the one for punchy homegrown R&B he's known for at home; two parts of a compelling, dynamic musical aesthetic firmly in and of the 21st centuryeven whenthey look back at history.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek