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Tom “Bones” Malone Remembers Bill Watrous

The trombonist shares memories of his former Ten Wheel Drive bandmate (6/8/39 – 7/2/18)

Bill Watrous
Bill Watrous at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, CA July 23, 1989 (photo: © Brian McMillen [www.brianmcmillenphotography.com])

I met Bill Watrous shortly after moving to New York in January 1970. He was the hot young studio trombone player. We played together in a band called Eclipse. Watrous and I hit it off right away. I was amazed at his sound and smooth style. We were both disciples of Urbie Green. I used to go over to his apartment at 260 West 72nd Street and hang out. We would practice together and even play along with Urbie Green recordings. His wife Colleen and his daughters, Melody and Cheryl, seemed to be entertained by us.

One day Bill gave some sage advice about New York studio gigs. “Tommy,” he told me, “if you want to be successful in the studio scene, play third trombone and keep your mouth shut.” I can’t say Bill did either one, but he was amazingly successful.

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