Trombone Shorty Say That To Say This
Brent Black / www.bop-n-jazz.com
Say That To Say This? O.K....A ridiculous album title to coincide with some predictable cover art sets the tone for a release that is as almost as forgettable as a State of the Union message from the acting President. I'll remind myself of a conversation I had with critically acclaimed jazz vocalist and journalist Rondi Charleston. It's o.k. to give a bad review, always answer the why questions.
The third time is definitely not the charm with this latest effort from Trombone Shorty. Why? The release is only a slightly amped up version (in spots) of his previous two releases. Shorty describes the release as ..."real funky like James Brown, The Meters, and the Neville Brothers with what I do on top." Taste is subjective but James Brown would be rolling over in his grave hearing this statement. The funk is there but the smoldering groove of a James Brown never shows up. The horns charts at times do pop but with the sound of the rock group Chicago from oh say 36 years ago. Speaking of time, this release marks the first recording of the legendary Meters in 36 years. Think it through folks, there is a reason an ensemble does not make a recording in close to four decades. The soul power ballads here are poorly thought out tunes that one might find as a single on a smooth jazz release begging for cross over air play that never comes.
New Orleans legend Nicholas Payton raised the most interesting question of what is jazz? While Payton and I don't see eye to eye on much, I now refer to the music commonly known as jazz as improvisational music whenever possible. Say That To Say This is as contrived and produced as any release charting on the R&B and Soul charts so how this finds a spot in contemporary jazz charts remains an incredible mystery. Oh wait, it is the trombone! Shorty can play, problem is there would seem to be but one wheelhouse he operates from while serious trombone players such as Steve Turre run the sonic spectrum from television to that shiny silver disc we all know and love. The sophomore release For True actually found a home at the top of the Contemporary Jazz chart for 12 weeks which is roughly two and a half months. Taste is indeed subjective.
The one saving grace might be producer Rapael Saadiq (John Legend & Mary J. Blige) but even an A list producer can only do so much. There is simply nothing new here. If you are a Trombone Shorty fan I would go out on a limb and say you will like it the first couple of plays, after that I would suspect trading it in as used may cross your mind. A rating? As subtle as a plane crash and not near as interesting. A musical one trick pony well on his way to becoming a musical footnote. The contemporary jazz answer to Weird Al.
Tracks: Say That To Say This; You And I; Get The Picture; Vieux Carre; Be My Lady; Long Weekend; Fire And Brimstone; Sunrise; Dream On; Shortyville.