Trombone Shorty

Author-musician Troy Andrews recounts the origins of his nickname and his rise to musical prominence in Trombone Shorty. Pen-and-ink, watercolor and collage illustrations from Bryan Collier (I, Too, Am America) bring to life both the musician and New Orleans, the city that shaped him.

"Where y'at?" swirls over a whirl of notes emanating from young Troy's trombone in Collier's triptych of opening images. In New Orleans, "that's what we like to say when we want to tell a friend hello. So. Where y'at?" Andrews speaks of growing up in Tremé, with "music floating" all day long. Collier hints at a bustling city neighborhood with traffic lights on the corner; the encircled letters of Tremé imitate trumpet finger buttons, and echo balloons that float like music notes. Troy's big brother James played trumpet and led his own band. Troy loved Mardi Gras, when the brass bands would parade past his house. "People didn't have a lot of money in Tremé, but we always had a lot of music," he writes. One day, he found a broken trombone and began to play. "Trombone shorty!" James called out, "because the instrument was twice my size!" Troy's big break comes when Bo Diddley pulls the boy onstage after hearing his notes from the audience. Collier pictures him as an adult musician playing in a hot air balloon, powered by his music, floating over Paris.

Trombone Shorty models hard work and discipline. He taught himself to play, and practiced "day and night." Today, he encourages young musicians, just as James did for him. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

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