Even before Summer 2023 officially started, the Rooftop at Pier 17 began its outdoor concert series. One of the first shows of the pre-season was a double headliner with Ziggy Marley and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue – each performing 75-minute sets. The show was rounded out with shorter sets by Mavis Staples and Robert Randolph.
At age 54, David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley is the eldest offspring of the Jamaican reggae music icon Bob Marley, who died in 1981. Recording since the mid-1980s, Ziggy has inhabited his father’s legacy even while building his own Grammy Award-winning catalog. Playing both acoustic and electric guitar, Ziggy and his band performed mostly his original compositions, but also offered his take on a few of his dad’s classics. In Marley family tradition, the set consisted of feel-good rhythms wrapped around empowering socio-political messages. Ziggy was in fine voice, at times sounding remarkably like his father, and his band and backing vocalists delivered strong support. While Ziggy proved to be a fine performer, the audience cheered loudest when he channeled his father’s “War,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” and “Jamming.”
From the moment Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews came on stage with a trumpet and a trombone held high in the air, he and and his band, Orleans Avenue, operated at maximum intensity. The 29-year-old jazz-rocker from New Orleans bent backwards and forwards while playing his instruments, accompanied by blaring music provided by guitarists Pete Murano and Joshua Connelly, bassist Mike “Bass” Bailey, percussionists Chrishira Perrier and Tracci Lee, and a horn section comprised of BK Jackson on tenor saxophone and Dan Oestreicher on baritone saxophone. The musicians made full use of the stage, clustering at the edge when leading the music and stepping back to give Shorty full range otherwise. By the time they all jammed on Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” much of the audience had already done so.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue revved the audience, and Ziggy Marley simmered the tempo to a casual sway. Earlier in the evening, Mavis Staples and Robert Randolph provided uptempo sets of classy rhythm and blues. The evening offered four distinct styles of music, and all of it was very good.