Idenity Graphic
Trombone Day at Mount San Antonio College
Trombone Christmas at the Anaheim Garden Walk

About the Choir

BonesWest was originated in 1980 by George Roberts ("Mr. Bass Trombone"). From 1983 until mid-2003, the choir was directed by charter member Ralph Bigelow. Peter Fournier has assumed directing duties since then. The group rehearses on almost every Saturday throughout the year (unless there is a performance on a Saturday).

The library features the custom arrangements of Harry Betts and Bob Olson, both Kenton alumni, Tommy Dorsey alumnus Charles LaRue, Les Brown's chief arranger Frank Comstock, James Christensen of Disneyland and Disney World, choir members Frank Cheever, Paul Edwards, and John Campanella, and former members Adrian Drover, David Borkenhagen, John Ward, and Ron Dickinson. Over the years the group has also been introduced to some of the liturgical and concert literature for low brass.

On any Saturday, anywhere from 25 to 40 trombonists show up for rehearsal. They divide themselves into six groups of music (leads, seconds, thirds, etc.), depending on the players' instrument and range, and the group's sound balance. The trombones are joined by a rhythm section consisting of bass, piano, and percussion. A singer is often present to help with vocal compositions.All of the players are volunteers united in their love for the trombone and for playing good music in the ensemble of the trombone choir. Sponsored by Local 7, AFM, BonesWest is a chapter of the International Trombone Association.

Bones West welcomes invitations to perform at community events as a public service. All members donate their services for these events, though the choir does usually recieve an honorarium.

For more information please feel free to e-mail us.

Charlie LaRue's Writes About His Experience

[Our lead tenor trombonist, Charles LaRue, posted the following message about BonesWest on Trombone-L not long ago. Here are some excerpts.]

While driving to rehearsal last Saturday morning, I became a bit reflective and nostalgic about my experience with and in BonesWest. "What’s BonesWest?" you ask.

It’s a trombone choir that was the brainchild of George Roberts, which he started at Orange Coast College in Sept. 1980. We met Saturday mornings, and everyone who joined had to sign up for a one-unit course each semester.

George personally recruited about 20 - 25 trombone players, plus pianist, bassist, and drummer. With George’s enthusiasm, his great playing, and the support of his many friends, it seemed to take hold.

He asked his composer/arranger friends from the studios to write something for the group, and many of them did. Frank Comstock wrote many great charts for us, as did Harry Betts..... many more have contributed since then. All of the arrangements were given to us, and all of the copying was gratis (I know-I did most of it!).

Just four months after we started, we were invited to play a concert at the NAMM Show in Anaheim. (We’ve done that concert every year since.) We have had some marvelous guest soloists during those years at the NAMM, including Bill Watrous, Chauncey Welch, Lloyd Ulyate, Alan Kaplan, Si Zentner, Bill Tole, Bob Sanders, and John Marcellus. (Hope I haven’t left anyone out.)

A couple of years after we started, George had to move away and the College had no more funds for such programs, so we were stuck. But before he left town, George met with the Local 7 Board, and they adopted us. No strings! (George does continue to perform with us from time to time, especially at NAMM.) We have been rehearsing in their rehearsal hall from 9:30 to 12:30 every Saturday morning since. They even provided a place for us to store our library, the coffee pot, and our sound equipment between rehearsals, besides the great room to play in.....

We open each rehearsal with good warm-ups (including the "Remington"), then play from our ‘legit’ book for about 45 minutes. After our first break the rhythm section is on board, and we go to the main book. (George started the group wishing it to be a "Big Band" of trombones, so most of the book is written for 5 parts, multiplied as 2-4-4-4-2).

George started us out with the idea that anyone who wants to play with us is welcome. That was, and is, the idea. There are no auditions. Players come and go, but we do have a pretty consistent 20 to 24 players who show up regularly. Players ranging from high school age through ages in the 70s. One of our members from the beginning, George Faye (who played with EVERYBODY!), now deceased, made most rehearsals up until his death. All performers donate their time, but sometimes we get an honorarium, which goes into the kitty for purchase of music-sound-binders-etc.

Personally, I’ve only missed a Saturday morning rehearsal when it was impossible to make . . . we have great camaraderie, and a whale of a good workout! Several of us gig around with various groups or big bands, but BonesWest is where we meet to hang out and play for ourselves and each other. . . .

You may from time to time visit Southern California--on vacation or whatever. I'd like to invite you to bring your horn and while here stop by Local 7 at 2050 S. Main St. in Santa Ana on Saturday morning. We'd love to welcome you to our rehearsal. If any of you have any specific questions about us, send us an e-mail.