Pete Murano gets his freak on at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
The biggest buzz band in New
Orleans is Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue,
which runs the gamut from traditional jazz to
searing rock. Leader Troy “Trombone Shorty”
Andrews became a star via his breakthrough
2010 release Backatown. His new CD, For
True, features cameos by Jeff Beck and Warren
Haynes. The guitar chair in Orleans Avenue is a
hot seat, and Shorty’s player of choice is “Freaky”
Pete Murano. —Jimmy Leslie
How does the creative process flow in Orleans
Troy writes most of the material on
keyboards, and it’s my job to translate the
harmonic information to the band because
we don’t have an actual keyboard player.
Shorty plays either trombone or trumpet
and sings. The rest of the lineup is baritone
saxophone, tenor saxophone, drums, percussion,
and bass. I mostly wind up working
the material into one of three contexts.
I apply what I call the “chank” to songs
on the funky side. I generally use 9th
chord voicings that land in the middle of
the fretboard, and “chank” out a percussive
rhythm. Leo’s Nocentelli’s intro on
the Meters’ “People Say” might be the
ultimate example of chank because, well,
anytime you can get an entire roomful of
people dancing to the rhythm guitar figure
by itself, that’s some solid rhythm playing.
The second is a rock-oriented context that
I call the “chunk,” where I provide power
chords or riffs. On “Hurricane Season” and
“Suburbia” from Backatown, I lock with the
drums and bass to provide the kind of rocking
groove people don’t normally associate
with a horn-driven ensemble. Sometimes
the horns will double my guitar riffs, and
at other times I’ll run lines with the horn
section, which is interesting from a phrasing
perspective because they don’t adhere
to fretboard patterns, and they have to
leave spaces to breathe. I usually wind up
in the saxophone range—above the baritone
and below the trumpet.
What’s the third context you utilize regularly?
Some songs call for extended chords in
a fully realized chord progression. “Fallin’”
goes Cm7, Fm7, Abmaj7, to G7, which I’ll
often play as a minor II-V: D half-diminished
into G(alt) and then right back into C.
What gear best allows you to cover all that
I dig the Mesa/Boogie Lone Star. I use
one channel clean, and dial in the Boogie
distortion sound I love on the other. I set
them both at the same volume so I can use
them interchangeably as a backdrop for a
soloist. For my own solos, I’ll step on a Fulltone
Fat-Boost. I play a Les Paul because
I can get a good chank sound with both
pickups in combination, and nobody can
argue with a Les Paul’s rock tone.
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