"The Craziest Thing" - Trombone Shorty

"The Craziest Thing" (PDF) from the Trombone Shorty album, For True.
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This is my kind of groove, a driving beat that stomps out some funky New Orleans rhythms.  The funny thing is that it is not really a horn song.  There is no dominate horn melody, and even when the trombone is in the foreground it still is only supporting the greater song.  "The Craziest Thing" is a great song that can stand alone without the help of the trombone.

Yet, Shorty still manages to play some cool stuff.  Notice during the intro and break that he plays with patience.  The phrases are only four bars long, but because the harmony does not change, Shorty does not jump all over the place.  He keeps the melody within a small range and uses the rhythms to create tension, which allows him to extend the phrase over the entire four bars.

Even the rest of the his solo uses these same principles to build up to the final high Eb.  The use of syncopation builds tension because the listener is anticipating the downbeat.  By playing off the beat, it creates an unsettling feeling that feels resolved when the beat is once again felt.  Even hanging on a particular note creates delayed resolution.  The high G triplets not only create tension rhythmically, but the harmony wants to move the G to an A, which causes those G's to rub against the chord.

Here's a YouTube video of Trombone Shorty performing this tune on Later with Jools Holland from across the pond.  And here's another YouTube video of him playing some blues with Jools Holland.

Recommended Reading:  "Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas" And Other American Stories by Hunter S. Thompson.  Published by Random House, Inc.