Trombone Shorty & Los Amigos Invisibles: Energy

Trombone Shorty
Los Amigos Invisibles
February 11, 2011

There was a festival atmosphere outside the Fillmore on Friday night. Maybe it had something to do with the people's revolution in Egypt and Mubarak's final capitulation and resignation earlier in the day or maybe it was just Friday night. There was a street band playing New Orleans jazz on the corner of Fillmore and Geary and plenty of smiling people milling about in hopes of a ticket to the sold-out show.

The Amigos
The scene of jubilant celebration continued once inside where Los Amigos Invisibles had the crowd shouting and dancing with (almost too much) abandon. Los Amigos Invisibles is a Venezuelan band that plays a high-energy combination of acid-jazz and funk with Latin rhythms. They also have a well-deserved reputation for explosive live performances which they definitely did at the Fillmore. The band is super talented and knows how to get a crowd dancing. Mucho, mucho divertido.

The Trombone
Trombone Shorty has been compared by many, including himself, to New Orleans jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. There is no question that Shorty is deeply talented but, I think, he has a way to go before that particular comparison has any merit. Although from Nawlins, TS does not really play New Orleans jazz. He occasionally includes covers of AC/DC in his set. One of last night's highlights was "Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson. Shorty reminds me much more of Robert Randolph's high-energy jam band with a trombone center-stage instead of RR's slide-guitar. There is lots of thumping bass and a rock beat keeping the music driving forward. But to compare him to Marsalis or to call TS a New Orleans jazz musician will lead to false expectations.

The Comparison
Trombone Shorty might do better than to tour with Los Amigos Invisibles. By the end of the night, it was really a toss-up as to which was the better performer. If this concert were in Venezuela, Los Amigos would certainly be headlining. They had big energy and had the crowd jumping with their Spanish dance funk. I could feel the floor shaking. Los Amigos have also been together for 20 years while TS is only 25 years old. Although Shorty was a child prodigy at the time and is certainly the best rock trombonist today, it's tough to compete with that kind of experience. The crowd gave TS plenty of love, but I'd have to give the Hollywood ticket to Los Amigos.

Overall, this was definitely a night of big fun. Two great bands that came to party. Either one is well worth the effort to check out.

Trombone Vids: a brief intro to Shorty, One Night Only, Back in Black.
Los Amigos Vids: Sexy, Ultrafunk.

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