William Russell Watrous III (June 8, 1939 – July 2, 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. Watrous’ father, also a trombonist, introduced him to the instrument at an early age. While serving in the U.S. Navy, Watrous studied with jazz pianist and composer Herbie Nichols. His first professional performances were in Billy Butterfield‘s band. Watrous’ career blossomed in the 1960s. He played and recorded with many prominent jazz musicians, including Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Quincy Jones, Johnny Richards, and trombonist Kai Winding. He also played in the house band on the Merv Griffin Show from 1965 to 1968. In 1971, he played with the jazz fusion group Ten Wheel Drive. Also in the 1970s, Watrous formed his own band, The Manhattan Wildlife Refuge Big Band, which recorded two albums for Columbia Records. The band was later renamed Refuge West when Watrous moved to southern California.
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