ACL Live Shot: Jon Batiste/Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Two Crescent City legacies-to-be bring Jazz Fest to Zilker
By Thomas Fawcett,
10:09AM, Sun. Oct. 12, 2014
ACL Fest might not have quite as much soul as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but a pair of Crescent City cats – one on Friday and the other Saturday – let the good times roll.
Sporting a canary yellow suit and a wide, silver-screen smile, Jon Batiste began his Friday afternoon set seated at the piano, jazzing up the Beatles’ “Blackbird.” A keys solo is unusual for a festival stage – Stevie Wonder didn’t even try to pull off that trick in 2011 – but Batiste carries charisma by the pound.
Puffing into an equally yellow melodica, the classically-trained scion of one of the Big Easy’s most entrenched musical lineages breathed life into standards “My Favorite Things” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Again on piano, his thrilling take on “St. James Infirmary” ended in a free jazz freakout some 15 minutes after it began.
The NYC-based multi-instrumentalist then led his threepiece combo – tuba, saxophone, tambourine – through the hopping crowd on “Express Yourself.” Batiste closed by sitting in a circle of fans in the middle of the gospel tent. Communion.
On a soggy Saturday afternoon, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews strode onstage with his horn held high as the clock expired on the Longhorns’ comeback in their Red River rivalry with Oklahoma. The tassel-clad cowboys of UT’s marching band, who joined the NOLA native and his quintet onstage during the festival’s first weekend, were nowhere to be found, but Shorty still shook the main stage with a storm of heavy rock and brass-fueled funk.
Always better live than on LP, Andrews rained “Fire & Brimstone” and tried “The Craziest Thing.” Yet it was a Crescent City classic, Allen Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down,” that brought the thunder. Thankfully, more rain didn’t take the cue.