Bill Watrous

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Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous.jpg
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Russell Watrous III
Born(1939-06-08)June 8, 1939
Middletown, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedJuly 2, 2018(2018-07-02) (aged 79)
Los Angeles, California
Associated acts

William Russell Watrous III (June 8, 1939 – July 2, 2018) was an American jazz trombonist. He is perhaps best known by casual fans of jazz music for his rendition of Sammy Nestico's arrangement of the Johnny Mandel ballad "A Time for Love" which he recorded on a 1993 album of the same name. A self-described "bop-oriented" player, he was well known among fellow trombonists as a master technician and for his mellifluous sound.



Bill Watrous at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay CA 7/23/89 Bill Watrous1.jpg
Bill Watrous at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay CA 7/23/89

Watrous' father, also a trombonist, introduced him to the instrument at an early age. While serving in the U.S. Navy, Watrous studied with jazz pianist and composer Herbie Nichols. His first professional performances were in Billy Butterfield's band. [1]

Watrous' career blossomed in the 1960s. He played and recorded with many prominent jazz musicians, including Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Quincy Jones, Johnny Richards, and trombonist Kai Winding. He also played in the house band on the Merv Griffin Show from 1965 to 1968.

In 1971, he played with the jazz fusion group Ten Wheel Drive. Also in the 1970s, Watrous formed his own band, The Manhattan Wildlife Refuge Big Band, which recorded two albums for Columbia Records. The band was later renamed Refuge West when Watrous moved to southern California.

He continued to work as a bandleader, studio musician, and performer at jazz clubs. In 1983, Watrous collaborated with Alan Raph to publish Trombonisms, an instructional manual covering performance techniques for trombone. He has recorded as a solo artist, bandleader, and in small ensembles. These recordings include a Japanese Import album in 2001 containing material recorded in 1984 with Carl Fontana, whom Watrous has cited as his favorite trombonist. He traveled periodically to San Diego to play with his good friend and former student, Dave Scott, a noted jazz musician himself and TV broadcast host.

Watrous taught for two decades at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, before retiring in 2015. [2] He died in Los Angeles on July 2, 2018. [2] He was survived by his wife, Maryann; their son, Jason; and two daughters from a previous marriage – Melody Watrous Ide and Cheryl Schoolcraft. [2]


As leader

As sideman

With Deodato

With Kenny Burrell

With Paul Desmond

With Maynard Ferguson

With Quincy Jones

With O'Donel Levy

With Milton Nascimento

With Jimmy Witherspoon

With Red Rodney

With Arturo Sandoval

With Kai Winding

With Pennsbury Concert Jazz Band

'With Ingrid James and San Gabriel 7 (JGS-SG7, 2012)

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  1. Yanow, Scott. "Bill Watrous Biography". AllMusic . All Media Network . Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Russonello, Giovanni (July 11, 2018). "Bill Watrous, Trombonist and Bandleader, Is Dead at 79". The New York Times . Retrieved August 1, 2018.