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Bill Watrous

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Title: Bill Watrous  
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Subject: Chad Wackerman, Sitka Jazz Festival, Jazz trombonists, The Tiger of San Pedro, Johnny Helms
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Bill Watrous

Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous (Photo by John Dugan).
Bill Watrous
(Photo by John Dugan)
Background information
Birth name William Russell Watrous III
Born Middletown, Connecticut
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Trombone

William Russell Watrous III (born June 8, 1939 in Middletown, Connecticut) is a 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 is well known among fellow trombonists as a master technician and for his mellifluous sound.


  • Biography 1
  • Discography 2
    • As leader 2.1
    • As sideman 2.2


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.

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

He has continued to work actively since the 1980s as a band leader, studio musician, and performer at various jazz clubs. In 1983, Watrous collaborated with Alan Raph to publish Trombonisms, an instructional manual covering various performance techniques for the trombone. He has recorded as a solo artist, band leader and in various small ensembles on a number of different labels. 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 also travels to San Diego periodically to play with his good friend and former student, Dave Scott, a noted jazz musician himself and KUSI-TV broadcast host.

Watrous has resided in the Los Angeles, California area since the late 1970s with his wife Mary Ann. He is on the music faculty at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.


As leader

  • In Love Again (as William Russell Watrous with the Richard Behrke Strings) (MTA, 1964)
  • Plays Love Themes for the Underground, the Establishment & Other Sub Cultures Not Yet Known (With the Walter Raim Concept) (MTA, 196?)
  • 'Bone Straight Ahead (Famous Door, 1973)
  • Manhattan Wildlife Refuge (Columbia, 1974)
  • The Tiger of San Pedro (Columbia, 1975)
  • Funk 'n Fun (Yupiteru, 1979)
  • Watrous in Hollywood (Famous Door, 1979)
  • Coronary Trombossa! (Famous Door, 1980)
  • I'll Play for You (Famous Door, 1980)
  • La Zorra (Famous Door, 1980)
  • Bill Watrous In London (Mole Jazz, 1982)
  • Roaring Back to New York, New York (Famous Door, 1983)
  • Bill Watrous and Carl Fontana (Atlas Records, 1984)
  • The Best of Bill Watrous (Famous Door, 1985)
  • Someplace Else (Soundwings, 1986)
  • Reflections (Soundwings, 1987)
  • Bone-Ified (GNP Crescendo, 1992)
  • Time for Love (GNP Crescendo, 1993)
  • Space Available (Double-Time Records, 1997)
  • Live at the Blue Note (Halfnote Records, 2000)
  • 'Bone Straight Ahead (Progressive International, 2001); re-release of the 1973 original
  • Living in the Moment with The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra (Sea Breeze Records, 2003)
  • Live in Living Comfort (Stonequake Recordings, 2003)
  • Mad to the Bone with The Rob Stoneback Big Band (Stonequake Recordings, 2003)
  • Kindred Spirits with The Gary Urwin Jazz Orchestra (Summit, 2006)

As sideman

With Kenny Burrell

With Paul Desmond

With Maynard Ferguson

With Milton Nascimento

With Jimmy Witherspoon

With Pennsbury Concert Jazz Band

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