Staff Pick

Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (2017).

Why do I love the little read-along audiobook “Trombone Shorty”?

Because I love to be proved wrong. How else will my horizons expand?

This 2018 Odyssey Honor book blew away my blanket disdain for audiobooks.

As a rule, I feel that audiobooks rob me of invoking my inner voice as the narrator of a literary work. One’s inner voice modulates the narrative’s tempo, tone and melody in ways that access our archives of experience and hidden chambers of the psyche.

I came to regard audiobooks as a necessary evil – a compromise that I resort to when reading is impractical or dangerous, such as while driving a long distance.

And then came “Trombone Shorty” by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, narrated by Dion Graham and illustrated by Bryan Collier. The autobiography traces a tyke’s ascent to professional musicianship in New Orleans.

This production, augmented by the sounds of the author’s band, transformed a biography that I wouldn’t have bothered finishing, into one that I can’t take in too many times. Mr. Graham’s narration also strikes a perfect chord, with authentic enunciation that exudes fatherly encouragement, on the one hand, as well as a child’s boundless confidence.

Trombone Shorty’s writing, Graham’s voice and Collier’s art converge into a pitch perfect rendering of a supportive community, and its role in nurturing nascent genius.

I feel a little embarrassed by my exaltation of this book, and I realize that my words of endorsement only go so far. In the case of “Trombone Shorty,” you’ve gotta’ hear it with your own ears to believe it.

Review by Steve Ryan