George Roberts (trombonist)

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George Roberts
Roberts in an advertisement
Roberts in an advertisement
Background information
BornMarch 22, 1928
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
DiedSeptember 28, 2014 (aged 86)
Fallbrook, California, U.S.
InstrumentsTrombone, bass trombone

George Mortimer Roberts (March 22, 1928 – September 28, 2014)[1] was an American trombonist.[2]


Born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, Roberts began his career after service in the United States Navy.[3]

Roberts was a member of the Ray Robbins band, then quit to join Gene Krupa in 1947 when he was in the same section with Urbie Green. It was Urbie's lyric tenor trombone playing that inspired George to be an "Urbie" one octave lower. After the Krupa band broke up in 1949, Roberts was a freelance musician in Reno, Nevada, for a year before being hired by Stan Kenton to replace Bart Varsalona, who had left the band during its 1949–1950 hiatus.[4] Roberts opted to stay in Los Angeles rather than go with Kenton on his 1953 European tour.

Working freelance again, he was introduced to Nelson Riddle by Lee Gillette, one of the executives at Capitol Records who had produced Kenton's recordings. Roberts began recording with Riddle, Don Costa, Billy May, Axel Stordahl, Gordon Jenkins, and Henry Mancini in sessions with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughan, and Nat King Cole. As a Hollywood studio musician, Roberts recorded film scores such as Jaws, King Kong, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and served on the staff orchestras of the radio and television networks. Before retiring, he had performed on over 6000 recordings.

Personal life[edit]

Roberts died from pneumonia on September 28, 2014, at the age of 86 in Fallbrook, California. He also had multiple sclerosis.[5]


As leader[edit]

  • Meet Mr. Roberts (Columbia, 1959)
  • Bottoms Up (Columbia, 1960)
  • Let George Do It (Regal, 1968)
  • Practice Makes Perfect (DNE, 1969)

As sideman[edit]

With Stan Kenton

With Skip Martin

  • Scheherajazz (Somerset, 1959)
  • Swingin' with Prince Igor (Sonic Workshop, 1960)
  • Perspectives in Percussion Volume 2 (Stereo-Fidelity, 1961)

With Shorty Rogers

With Pete Rugolo

With Lalo Schifrin

With others


  1. ^ "George Roberts - obituary". Telegraph. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Hill, Paul (August 12, 2004). "Interview with George Roberts". Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  3. ^ Levinson, Peter J. (2005). September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle. Taylor Trade Publications. ISBN 978-1-58979-163-3.
  4. ^ Zimmerman, Peter C. (November 1, 2021). The Jazz Masters: Setting the Record Straight. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-4968-3739-4.
  5. ^ "George Roberts Passes Away". International Trombone Association. September 29, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 30, 2014.

External links[edit]