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Trombonist Bill Watrous Dies at 79

In high demand as a player and beloved as an educator, he was an exemplar on his instrument

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

Bill Watrous, a jazz trombonist acclaimed for his clear, round tone and boundless virtuosity on his instrument, died on Tuesday, July 3, in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 79 years old.

Sometimes billed as “the world’s greatest trombonist,” Watrous was universally admired among jazz musicians for the beauty and fluency of his playing, as well as both his speed and lyricism. Over a 55-year career he developed a long and spectacular résumé that included work with such luminaries as Kai Winding, Maynard Ferguson, Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, and Chick Corea, as well as the jazz-rock band Ten Wheel Drive and his own Wildlife Refuge Orchestra. He also performed and recorded prolifically under his own name.

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