A Loving Tribute to George Roberts
The Ventura Club in Sherman Oaks, California, on Monday, Sept. 28, 1998, was the venue for a spectacular gathering of his friends and colleagues to stage "A Loving Tribute to George Roberts." Over 250 guests arrived early for dinner; uncounted dozens arrived later for the Tribute (mostly working musicians who came by after work).
Following dinner, Lloyd Ulyate emceed the "show." The perfect choice for the assignment, Lloyd drew on his long association in the studios with George to regale the audience with stories about George.
The program included a video clip of the "100 Trombone Concert" in Tokyo, fall '97, featuring George and Lloyd on Harry Betts's "Porgy and Bess Suite." Sue Roberts provided slides of George as a small child in Iowa, a young lad with his first trombone, a young man in the US Navy, and photos of George with the Ray Robbins Band, meeting Jack Teagarden, and other musical luminaries.
Lloyd then introduced Dick Nash, Milt Bernhart, and Lew McCreary, each of whom mixed humor and adoration in their remarks.
BonesWest was honored to be invited to do two numbers: "I Love You," arranged by Harry Betts, and "Mr. Nice Guy," composed especially for the occasion by Adrian Drover (more on this below). Phil Teele performed the solo part beautifully on the Drover piece.
Seven extraordinary trombonists from "Hoyt's Garage" performed Hoyt's setting of "Shenandoah" and Tommy Pedersen's "Josephine." The latter was written for George and was the first cut on the Dick Noel produced recording "All My Friends are Trombone Players: Tommy Pedersen." Mike Millar brilliantly performed the solo for the Tribute, with Bill Tole on the Misplaced, Muffled Mouthpiece. Others from the Garage: Alex Iles, Bruce Otto, Jim Boltinghouse, Bob McChesney, and Craig Ware
The closing number from the Garage and for the evening was a whimsical setting of "Making Whoopee" by Harry Betts, poking good fun at the bass trombone and George.
George's response to the group mixed humor and deep feeling of affection for all present, feelings that were abundant throughout the evening.
For BonesWest, the high point was the opportunity to perform Adrian Drover's "Mr. Nice Guy: A Song for Bass Trombone," and dedicated to George. Matt Litwaitis, of the San Diego Bay Bones, wrote Adrian the next morning and said, 'Hi Adrian, "Mr. Nice Guy"!!! A beautiful tribute, wonderfully performed by Bones West with Phil Teele doing gorgeous solo work. One of the highlights of the evening! As you can imagine, the room was full of the "heavy hitters" of the West Coast trombone world, all of whom gave the most positive of "musicians' accolades" when the performance was completed....dead silence for a moment, followed by a collectively sighed "yeah!" and then, thunderous applause. George was thrilled by it.'