Bill Watrous performing 40 years ago

Stan Pethel, the Professor of Music Emeritus from Berry College, sent me a cassette he found recently that was recorded 40 years ago at the 1978 International Trombone Workshop. The gem on the cassette was the performance of then 40-year old Bill Watrous.  With his trademark facility throughout the trombone’s entire range and unparalleled lyricism, Bill performed three tunes that night: Here’s that Rainy Day, Irving Mill’s Blue Lou, and A Night in Tunisia.

These recordings remind us that there was very little that Bill couldn’t do with the trombone. From effortless double high G’s to pedal tones to harmonic excursions in multi-phonics, Bill was an undisputed master of the trombone and will continue to serve as an important reminder of our instrument’s vast possibilities.

Here are the three tunes:

Here’s That Rainy Day

Blue Lou

A Night in Tunisia


  1. Stan Pethel on September 17, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    As a young college professor in 1998 the ITW workshop that was always in Nashville was a “must attend” conference. The atmosphere was relaxed and the trombone talent for both symphonic/legit and jazz genres was beyond awesome.

    The hit of the conference was always Jazz night and the Bill Watrous performances were the most jaw dropping.

    I’m so glad I got tapes of the performances. Check these out for sure.

  2. Tom Ervin on September 22, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    And Beegie on piano, as she was for maybe ten years. Great lady, great leader.

  3. WILLIAM HOH on September 22, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    Incredible. I’m absolutely speechless. I’m so glad that they recorded that session.

  4. Albert oehrle on September 22, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    We used to hear Bill as a regular at the Gibson Jazz Parties in Colorado. Astonishing, as these cuts demomnstrate. AO

  5. Dusty Travis on September 24, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks for posting these, Michael. Bill was Dr. Vivona’s guest one year at the NAU jazz festival (1994?95?) and he was so gracious to all us rambunctious HS kids. When you hear that level of playing at that age live, it really makes an indelible mark!

  6. Carlo Moreno on September 25, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    The first time I met Bill was at a Bones West tribute to Bill Tole. At the time I didn’t know who he was and stupidly left without an autograph. Biggest regret of my life today. The first words he said to me was “Its nice to meet you. Let me give you a tip, don’t be an asshole like me” and he went on to be an amazing inspiration to me from that point on. I remember at ITF in Redlands he always had a funny little story to tell and he was so alive and still such a phenomenal player at his age. But on July 2nd of this year, I was told that Bill had passed away. Listening to these pieces that he played with incredible skill really bring back those memories. Thank you so much for posting these. What a remarkable way to be remembered. Rest in Peace Bill.

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