Live at the Blue Note
With his veiled, silky tone and preference for the mid-to-upper reaches of his instrument, trombonist Bill Watrous achieves a timbre more reminiscent of French-hornist Julius Watkins than of any other trombonist. It is a wholly unique sound and one that perfectly matches his freely flowing, lyrically based improvisations, not to mention his quicksilver delivery of double-timed lines. Here, for example, in the company of working bandmates pianist Derek Smith, bassist Russell George and drummer Joe Ascione, Watrous soars through and over such ancient staples as "Smiles," "Say It Isn't So," "Always" and a multiphonically playful "I Want to Be Happy," bringing new life to these '20s and '30s jam favorites. Watrous also turns his slide toward the more recent "Just in Time," "Desafinado" and "Blue Monk," upon which George plays a meaningful bass solo. This release marks a happy occasion for the long unrecorded trombone ace.