FORT WORTH -- The Fort Worth Symphony's Concerts in the Garden series got off to a really funky start Friday night in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
But since the headliner was Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, that was a good thing.
The Big Easy brass man and his five-piece band performed a heady mix of about every musical influence that has come through or out of the Crescent City. The base is good old funk and soul with just a soupcon of jazz. But Shorty (a.k.a. Troy Andrews) puts a 21st-century spin on his sound. All the New Orleans traditions are there, but so are hip-hop and straight-ahead rock.
The concert opened with a couple of instrumentals followed by the cautionary On the Way Down from the band's 2010 CD Backatown. That set the tone for an evening that featured a mix of songs alternating with extended instrumental jams. Among the highlights were Hurricane Season and a new take on the classic St. James Infirmary Blues, which quoted old themes among a sea of funky fusion.
The show, which was played before a crowd of about 1,600, was a winner because of the virtuosity and vitality of Andrews. He was obviously at home on the trombone, but he was even more impressive on trumpet, perhaps because the latter instrument allowed him to hit dazzling high notes as opposed to the runs he produced on his mellower namesake instrument.
And his vocals were also first rate. It is astonishing that anyone could play two brass instruments and sing in the same concert much less in the same song. It was a feat of both musicianship and athleticism.
The only quibble that might be made about the show was that there was a sameness to some of the numbers. But Andrews usually broke up any encroaching monotony by turning to guitarist Pete Murano. His wailing, hard rock leads were an interesting contrast to the jazzy-soulfulness of most of the tunes.
So it was a good start to the 22nd season in this summer series, which will continue through the July 4 holiday with a mix of rock, pop and symphony performances.