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Bill Watrous, whose crisp and graceful playing made him one of the world's most respected trombonists, died on July 3 at a hospital in Los Angeles

Born: June 8, 1939; Died: July 2, 2018 BILL Watrous, who has died aged 79, was a trombonist who gave the instrument the same status as a solo voice as the trumpet had been given by Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis and the saxophone by Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Other trombonists had led bands but few played with just a rhythm section and, with his highly developed technique that earned him wide recognition as the finest trombonist of the late 20th century, Watrous opened the trombone up to previously undreamed of possibilities. William Russell Watrous was born in Middletown, Connecticut. His father, whom Bill idolised, was a trombonist who had worked in vaudeville during the Depression and had played for a time with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. As a child Bill discovered his dad’s trombones in a cupboard and became fascinated with them. His dad began teaching him to play at the age of six and from then on Bill was determined to become a professional musician, although he might also have become a pro baseball player as he could apparently swing a bat as well as he could swing a tune. Around the age of 11 or 12, Bill and some friends, with one or other of their parents, began making the 150 mile round trip to New York at weekends to listen to jazz. He remembered hearing Charlie Parker playing with Thelonious Monk on one occasion and on another hearing Charles Mingus. When he left school he joined the US Navy where he took little interest in becoming a sailor but made good use of his time by learning to read music (he had previously memorised everything by ear). Along with his already well-developed facility, partly inspired by listening to his early favourite, J.J. Johnson, his sight-reading ability helped Bill to find work in New York after he completed his Navy service. He played with Quincy Jones, Woody Herman and, briefly, Count Basie, joined Kai Winding’s trombone group, which featured four trombonists and a rhythm section, and as a busy session player he appeared in the house band of the popular TV series The Dick Cavett Show. Watrous also toured with pop singers including Paul Anka before, in 1969, he formed his own band, Manhattan Wildlife Refuge, which was signed to Columbia Records by legendary talent scout John Hammond. Manhattan Wildlife Refuge did not enjoy the popularity of some of Hammond’s other signings, which included Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, but it did redefine people’s perception of what could be played on the trombone. Thereafter, anyone looking for someone to play the seemingly impossible would call on Watrous’s skill, speed of articulation and wonderfully rounded tone. Having moved to Los Angeles in 1976 his adaptability found him working on sessions with trumpet star Freddie Hubbard and Brazilian singer-songwriter Milton Nascimento as well as on recordings with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. He also worked in quintets alongside saxophonists Phil Woods, Buddy Tate, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Londoner Peter King and in 1980 he recorded an album for a Japanese label with alto saxophonist Art Pepper. Around the same time, Pepper, who had made a successful comeback after years of drug addiction, recorded one of his greatest triumphs, Blues for the Fisherman, live at Ronnie Scott’s in London for the small independent jazz label Mole Records. Two years later, on his first ever trip to the UK, Mole recorded Watrous at Pizza Express in London and gave Watrous similar exposure. Featuring a local rhythm section of pianist Brian Dee, bassist Len Skeat and drummer Martin Drew, the recording showcased Watrous’s ability to deliver technically challenging solos while also playing with soul and melodic sensibility. As much as Watrous enjoyed playing live – as a soloist with rhythm section, with big bands or in trombone summits with fellow trombonists Kai Winding, Jiggs Whigham and Albert Mangelsdorff – he was also deeply committed to passing on his skills to college students, as his father had done with him, and to sharing his passion for the trombone. For 20 years he taught at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and he had a long-running jazz festival named in his honour at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He was also an enthusiastic advocate for the annual National Trombone Workshop at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, which he enjoyed telling people had begun with exactly 76 trombones but went to cater for many more. He is survived by his wife, Maryanne and his son, Jason. ROB ADAMS (Herald, Scotland)

Bill Watrous, Trombonist and Bandleader, Is Dead at 79

William Russell Watrous III (June 8, 1939 – July 3, 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. WIKIPEDIA

ARTIE SHAW Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists"

Artie Shaw (born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky; May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004) was an American clarinetist, composer, bandleader, and actor. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Though he had numerous hit records, he was perhaps best known for his 1938 recording of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." WIKIPEDIA

Benny Goodman Orchestra

Benjamin David Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz clarinetist and bandleader known as the "King of Swing". In the mid-1930s, Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in the United States. His concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 16, 1938 is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music." Goodman's bands launched the careers of many major jazz artists. During an era of racial segregation, he led one of the first well-known integrated jazz groups. Goodman performed nearly to the end of his life while exploring an interest in classical music.


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Sun Valley Serenade, with Glenn Miller Orchestra


Sun Valley Serenade is a 1941 musical film starring Sonja Henie, John Payne, Glenn Miller, Milton Berle, and Lynn Bari. It features the Glenn Miller Orchestra as well as dancing by the Nicholas Brothers and Dorothy Dandridge, performing "Chattanooga Choo Choo", which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996, and was awarded the first Gold Record for sales of 1.2 million. WIKIPEDIA

Lester Raymond "Les" Brown (March 14, 1912 – January 4, 2001) was an American jazz musician who led the big band Les Brown and His Band of Renown for nearly seven decades from 1938–2000. 

WIKIPEDIA

VIDEO: Les Brown Orchestra - 1984 with Jo AnnJo Greer, Butch Stone and Stumpy Brown and the incredible drumming of Jack Sperling.

 

Les and Larry Elgart

In the mid-1940s, Les and Larry started up their own ensemble, hiring Nelson Riddle, Bill Finegan and Ralph Flanagan to arrange tunes for them. Their ensemble was not successful, and after a few years, they scuttled the band and sold the arrangements they had commissioned to Tommy Dorsey. Both returned to sideman positions in various orchestras. In 1953, Larry met Charles Albertine and recorded two of his experimental compositions, "Impressions of Outer Space" and "Music for Barefoot Ballerinas". Released on 10" vinyl, these recordings became collector's items for fans of avant-garde jazz, but they were not commercially successful at the time. Larry and Albertine put together a more traditional ensemble and began recording them using precise microphone placements, producing what came to be known as the "Elgart sound". This proved to be very commercially successful, and Larry enjoyed a run of successful albums and singles in the 1950s. In 1954, the Elgarts left their permanent mark on music history in recording Albertine's "Bandstand Boogie," which became the theme for the popular TV series "Bandstand" on ABC-TV. Variations of the original surfaced as the show's theme in later years. Les and Larry reunited in 1963, but it would not last long. Les moved to Texas and performed for the rest of his life with The Les Elgart Orchestra while Larry continued to perform and record regularly for decades....WIKIPEDIA

VIDEO:  Les and Larry Elgart Orchestra Chicago 1965...

Larry Elgart, Who Kept Swing Up to Date, Dies at 95

Lawrence Joseph "Larry" Elgart (March 20, 1922 – August 29, 2017) was an American jazz bandleader. With his brother Les, he recorded "Bandstand Boogie", the theme later used for the long-running TV dance show American Bandstand. Elgart was born in 1922 in New London, Connecticut, four years younger than his brother, Les. Their mother was a concert pianist; their father played piano as well, though not professionally. Both brothers began playing in jazz ensembles in their teens, and while young Larry played with jazz musicians such as Charlie Spivak, Woody Herman, Red Norvo, Freddie Slack and Tommy Dorsey. In the mid-1940s, Les and Larry started up their own ensemble, hiring Nelson Riddle, Bill Finegan and Ralph Flanagan to arrange tunes for them. Their ensemble was not successful, and after a few years, they scuttled the band and sold the arrangements they had commissioned to Tommy Dorsey. Both returned to sideman positions in various orchestras.

RIP Bea Wain, One of the Last of the Ladies Who Sang With the big bands

Bea Wain (born Beatrice Weinsier; April 30, 1917 – August 19, 2017) was an American Big Band-era singer born in the Bronx, New York City. She had a number of hits with Larry Clinton and his Orchestra. After her marriage she and her husband, AndrĂ© Baruch, [photo] became involved in radio. She led the vocal group Bea and the Bachelors (with Al Rinker, Ken Lane, and John Smedberg) and the V8 (seven boys and a girl) on the Fred Waring show. In 1937, Wain joined former Tommy Dorsey arranger Larry Clinton and His Orchestra, which she joined after doing chorus work with Fred Waring and Ted Straeter. Her debut with Clinton was made in the summer of 1938 at the Glen Island Casino, New York. She was featured with Clinton on a number of hit tunes, including "Martha" and "Heart and Soul". In 1939, she was voted the most popular female band vocalist in Billboard annual college poll, and that same year she began her solo career. Her first theater tour as a solo led to her being signed for the Your Hit Parade and RCA Victor records.

  WIKIPEDIA VIDEO: With Larry Clinton Orchestra...