NEW ORLEANS (TheBlaze/AP) — A 14-year-old boy was walking home from band practice Thursday night in a middle-class neighborhood near his school when a gunman jumped from a van, grabbed his shirt, and demanding his trombone.
The boy yanked himself away and ran, New Orleans police said — but he dropped the instrument when he heard gunshots.
Enter New Orleans musician Troy Andrews, much better known as “Trombone Shorty.”
Andrews’ organization — Trombone Shorty Foundation — notes that “strives to preserve and perpetuate our way-of-life by instilling an understanding of the importance of our musical culture in the next generation of New Orleans musicians—empowering them to play it forward.”
And Trombone Shorty did just that, arranging for the boy to receive a brand-new replacement trombone — with some style attached to it.
Bill Taylor, the foundation’s executive director, said he delivered the instrument to the shocked boy on Saturday.
“He was like speechless,” Taylor recounted, adding that the instrument is engraved with the name “Trombone Shorty.”
But the surprise was just getting started.
“And I got Troy on the phone,” Taylor added. “As soon as I gave (the boy) the horn I had Shorty on the line and gave him the phone.”
Andrews described the phone call in an emailed statement: “He was full of joy, thankful and happy. I think we were both very excited to speak to each other. He seems like a cool kid and I’m happy that after a situation like that, I can help to put a smile on his face.”
The foundation didn’t release the boy’s name. The mother accepted the offer of the new trombone after receiving assurances that his name wouldn’t be released because she feared for his safety.
The trombone delivery and phone call took place before Andrews went on stage Saturday at the Newport Jazz Festival, Taylor said.
Trombones cost anywhere from $80 to thousands of dollars.
Andrews recounts in his bio that at age 4 and “would walk the streets of his culturally-rich Treme neighborhood blowing his horn. He emulated the musicians he heard playing in the ‘second line’ parades, most notably his older brother James, a skilled performer in his own right. Young Troy was so small—his instrument was twice his size—and so talented, that he earned the nickname ‘Trombone Shorty,’ and it stuck.”
He became a band-leader at age 8 and a touring musician at 10, Andrews bio notes, eventually creating his own style, one he calls “SupaFunkRock.”
This story has been updated.