Perhaps you've just finished a big meal at a restaurant when the waiter brings out a little dessert: "On the house," he says. Perhaps you've bought a new computer, and they throw in some free software and a discount on your next purchase. Or perhaps you've been to a bakery, ordered a dozen bagels and received 13.
Those are examples of a lagniappe: a little gift you get for buying something. It's an especially common practice in certain corners of the world, including Louisiana, where the term originates.
Trombone Shorty is from Louisiana, from a musical family in the historically musical Treme neighborhood in New Orleans. He plays trombone and trumpet; he can improvise, as jazz musicians do; he can sing a little bit, too. His band Orleans Avenue is filled with fellow young men who know many funk and rock grooves, and how to play them convincingly on stage. There's a New Orleans tradition being extended here: talented native sons who learn music well, merge it with the popular music they grew up with and present it for big crowds with energy, passion and charisma.
All of that is secondary to this: The band wants you to dance. This Tiny Desk Concert features some of the danceable tunes on For True, the new Trombone Shorty album, but strips them of their high-gloss studio sheen. It's book-ended by the short-and-sweet instrumental "Dumaine St." and the seduction jam "Do to Me," in which Shorty edges up to the mic to sing. "I know you came here to move," he starts.
In the middle, Shorty cues his baritone saxophonist, Dan "Uncle Potato Chip" Oestreicher, to start a foundational bass line. Then the full band builds it up and takes turns improvising over it. "It's kind of like a New Orleans thing we do down in the street," Shorty says. "It'll probably never sound the same after this." It feels a bit like a small thing, a casually tossed-off, crowd-pleasing number. Of course, that belies the work that went into producing it, as well as the satisfaction you get from hearing that little bonus. Appropriately, it's titled "Lagniappe."
- "Dumaine St."
- "Do To Me"
Michael Katzif, Bob Boilen (cameras); edited by Michael Katzif; audio by Kevin Wait; photo by Michael Katzif/NPR