Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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WATROUS, Bill

(b 8 June '39, Middletown CT) Trombonist, one of the best of all time with unsurpassed speed, but running out of things to do with it. He played with Woody Herman, Johnny Richards, Count Basie as well as in smaller groups with the likes of Roy Eldridge; did studio work at CBS and ABC late '60s, played in group Ten Wheel Drive, made quintet/sextet LP 'Bone Straight Ahead '72, one of the first LPs on Famous Door with a superb lineup incl. Hank Jones on piano and the young Steve Gadd on drums; formed big band Manhattan Wildlife Refuge for a good album of that title '74 and The Tiger Of San Pedro '75 on Columbia. There were five more on Famous Door, quintet Funk'n Fun '79 on a Yuperitu label with Art Pepper and Russ Freeman, quartet Bill Watrous In London '82 on Mole, all out of print while more and more he retreated into technique. Two albums on GNP early '90s were disappointing; Space/Available '96 on Double-Time by the Bill Watrous Big Band was his best in years, the skill not entirely overpowering the music, sidemen like Bill Liston and Sal Lozano on reeds also allowed to shine.