George Roberts also known as "Mr. Bass Trombone" the world over, started with the Ray Robbins Band after service in the US Navy, and then went with Gene Krupa, where he was in the same section with Urbie Green. It was Urbies' lyric tenor trombone that inspired George to be an "Urbie" one octave lower.
In 1950 George went with Stan Kenton Band until 1953, when he stayed in LA rather than go with Stan on a European tour. He soon met Nelson Riddle to began his recording career with Riddle, Don Costa, Billy May, Axel Stordahl, Gordon Jenkins, among others, in sessions with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughn, Nat Cole. It was this experience with vocalists that Roberts further developed his singing style.
In the book by Will Friedwald Sinatra! The Song is You, Friedwald discusses George Robert's role in Nelson Riddle's arranging style and Robert's role in his arrangements for Sinatra. He also lists other trombonists that worked with Sinatra and what solos they played. (Thanks to David Bratcher for this reference). Read more about George in the ITA Journal, Winter 1988, in an article by Elecia Hill, "George Roberts: Tribute to a Legend."
As a Hollywood studio musician, Roberts recorded thousands of film scores with all the major studios (Jaws, King Kong, Closer Encounters of the Third Kind, etc.) and served on the staff orchestras of the major radio and television networks (Carol Burnett Show, Dinah Shore Show, Academy Awards, etc.).
Recordings (thanks to Doug Yeo for this discography):
100 Trombones Concert. With an ensemble of 100 Trombones (Tokyo, organized by the Japanese Association of Trombonists [JAT]). CD. Recorded 1997. Nippon Columbia Co. Ltd. CD #COCG 14845. (Not yet available in the US--but we're working on it)
Unsung Hero: The Artistry of George Roberts. With Music Minus One Orchestra and Big Band. CD with music. Recorded 1997? Music Minus One 3906.
Big Band Ballads for Trombone. With Music Minus One Orchestra and Big Band. CD with music. Recorded 1997? Music Minus One 3907. I
Meet Mr. Roberts. With Frank DeVol and his Orchestra. LP. Recorded ?. Columbia CL 1384. Out of print.
The Joy of Living. With Nelson Riddle and His Orchestra, Harry "Sweets" Edison, trumpet. LP and CD. Recorded 1959. Capitol T1148 LP, EMI/Capital CD7243 8 56697 2 9. Available from CD Universe or Tower Records (search for "Riddle").
Sinatra's Swingin' Session! And More. With orchestra conducted by Nelson Riddle. Recorded 1960. Reissued 1987. Capitol 72434 94753 2 8. Available. (Listen especially to "Always.")
Bottoms Up. With John Williams, piano and the George Roberts Sextet. LP. Recorded ?. Columbia CL 1520. Out of print.
Let George Do It. With Fort Vancouver High School Stage Band. LP. Recorded 1968?. Regal Records ST-1073. Out of print.
Practice Makes Perfect. With Uan Rasey and George Werth, trumpets; Vince DeRosa, horn; Tommy Johnson, tuba. LP. Recorded ?. Dick Noel Records. Nelson Riddle: Five Pieces for Bass Trombone.
Hymns At Sunset. With The Ralph Carmichael Choir and Orchestra. LP. Recorded 1971? Light Records (div of Lexincon/Word) LS-5594-LP. Out of print.
I'll Play For You Forever. With Rob Boone, keyboards and various performers (Side 1 features George Roberts playing with rhythm section; Side 2 features rhythm section only. Package includes music in bass clef). Cassette. Recorded 1993. Available from Rob Boone, 5717 N. Genematas Drive, Tucson, AZ 85704 USA.