Stetson University

Don Waldrop

Adjunct Professor of Music; Director of Jazz Band

Don Waldrop, director of Stetson Jazz, the jazz ensemble, is best known for his work over 35 years in the Los Angeles music scene as a bass trombonist, tubist and bassist. After college, during which he studied with renowned Donald Yaxley, Waldrop auditioned for and was accepted into the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C., doubling tuba, bass trombone and double bass. He performed frequently in the White House during the Kennedy and Johnson years, often on bass in small jazz groups. During his four years in Washington, D.C., he earned a masters degree in instrumental performance and regularly commuted to New York to study with renowned tubist Harvey Phillips. Upon leaving the United States Navy Band, Waldrop joined the Metropolitan Opera in New York as a member of the orchestra of its newly formed National Company orchestra, touring the continent for a year before settling in Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, his first work was as a music copyist in the Hollywood music libraries, copying instrumental parts for numerous network television shows, records and film scoring sessions, including scores by Nelson Riddle for Frank Sinatra recordings, The Smothers Brothers Show, and more, listed below. This work put him in touch with such well-known arrangers as Billy Byers, Patrick Williams, Van Alexander and Bill Justice. Early in his Los Angeles career, Waldrop auditioned for the bass trombone chair in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Placing second to winner Jeff Reynolds, Waldrop became the extra bass trombonist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic and for over 12 years played numerous concerts and recordings with conductor Zubin Mehta, including the Tchaikovsky Symphonies and Star Wars albums. Other major conductors during this time included Carlo Giulini, Andre Previn, Michael Tilson Thomas and Pierre Boulez. His live performances also included Broadway shows at the Los Angeles Music Center and other venues.

Waldrop's classical work is extensive. He was bass trombonist for 11 years in the Glendale Symphony and played intermittently with the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Ballet, both on bass trombone and contrabass trombone. His freelance orchestral work includes many performances with American Ballet Theater, Bolshoi Ballet, D'Oyly Carte Opera and Los Angeles Opera, among numerous others. During this period he was also involved in chamber music and early music groups (at times playing bass sackbut and ultimately recording the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers with the Pacifica Chorale). He played in various chamber music ensembles and was a regular participant in the contemporary music performances of the renowned Monday Evening Concerts, formed in the 1930s, which premiered works by Igor Stravinsky and many other contemporary composers. There, Waldrop also participated in the first United States performances of noted composer/conductor Pierre Boulez. He also taught low brass privately and served on the adjunct faculty at The Claremont Colleges, California State University - Long Beach and California State University - Dominguez Hills.

For fun and terror, he played regularly along with many of his more adventurous trombonist friends at "Hoyt's Garage," the legendary-among-trombonists weekly low-brass workout at the home of trombonist Hoyt Bohannon, who arranged and conducted, along with Tommy Pederson, symphonic to jazz pieces played by seven trombones (and sometimes tuba). He and his colleagues formed the Modern Brass Quintet, which later became Los Angeles Brass. This group toured extensively to critical acclaim, including tours to Alaska, playing the cities, the Aleutian Islands, and many of the outback Inuit native settlements from Kake all the way north to Point Barrow. One of the tours included a performance at the legendary Elizabeth Hall at Stetson University.

In jazz, Waldrop was a regular member of arranger Bob Florence's Grammy-winning big band, The Limited Edition, playing bass trombone in concerts, jazz festivals and ultimately recording 11 albums over 25 years. He also worked with the big bands of Shorty Rogers, Neal Hefti, Stan Kenton, Tommy Dorsey and the Mel Tormé-Marty Paich Dektette. He produced, arranged and played on what has become a "cult" recording among trombone lovers, "The Hollywood Trombones - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" with the full participation of many of his talented L.A. colleagues, for which he is eternally grateful.

In television, Waldrop's first steady weekly show as a trombonist/tubist was "Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters" at ABC Television. The next year he went to NBC-TV with "The Flip Wilson Show," the number one comedy television show for four years. Those two shows allowed him to work steadily for five years with beloved trombonist Tommy Pederson. Meanwhile, he continued to copy music commercially, moving into more television work, sometimes playing on sessions for which he had copied the music the night before. In those years there were many more live TV music variety shows, and Waldrop became very much in demand for his valuable doubling skills, more unusual at that time than they are now. There were also music specials like "Barishnikov on Broadway," "The Music of Richard Rogers" and a classic TV special with Burt Bacharach and Barbra Streisand. Waldrop's employment shifted gradually more into film television, such as Movies of the Week, weekly crime and drama shows, and the ever-present animated children's shows, such as those produced at Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Company (including The Smurfs, Yogi, Richie Rich, The Flintstones) plus many sessions on the long-lived hit, The Simpsons. He also became busier in feature films, ultimately listing hundreds of movies, including many of the most famous and beloved movies of all time. Waldrop played on many of the television awards shows, including the Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes, Country Music Awards and the People's Choice Awards. In addition, there were recording sessions with artists Frank Sinatra (two albums), Barbra Streisand (Back to Broadway II and others), Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Herb Alpert, Lee Ann Rimes, Burt Bacharach, Johnny Mathis, Michael Feinstein, David Foster, Quincy Jones, Steve & Eydie, Sammy Nestico, Lionel Ritchie, Sonny Rollins, Linda Ronstadt, Andy Williams, Dr. John, Lee Ann Womack and others.

In 2002, retiring from the demands and pressures of the music industry, Waldrop chose a new life in Florida, expecting a leisurely existence with his new wife and many cats. That was not to be and, to this day, Waldrop has a busy schedule of live performances, both with his own group Platinum, and backing touring artists and Broadway shows as they regularly tour through Florida. Notably among those has been the show Chicago, in which he doubles string bass and tuba, and the Johnny Mathis concert tours, playing bass trombone.


  • B.A., music education, Stetson University

Television Work

Live Music/Variety Shows

  • Flip Wilson Show
  • Andy Williams Show
  • Carol Burnett Show
  • Dean Martin Show
  • Jerry Lewis Show
  • Lennon Sisters Show
  • Sonny and Cher Show

Film TV Series

  • Alias
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • The Bionic Woman
  • Bob Newhart Show
  • Cagney and Lacy
  • Cannon
  • Charlie's Angels
  • Chips
  • Columbo
  • Diagnosis Murder
  • Family Guy
  • Happy Days
  • Hart to Hart
  • Hawaii Five-O
  • JAG
  • Jake and the Fat Man
  • King of the Hill
  • Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • M.A.S.H.
  • Matlock
  • Maverick
  • Moonlighting
  • Murder, She Wrote
  • Perry Mason
  • Remington Steele
  • Scarecrow and Mrs. King
  • Six Million Dollar Man
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: Voyager
  • Starsky and Hutch
  • Superman
  • Streets of San Francisco
  • The Hulk
  • The Love Boat
  • The Simpsons
  • "V" (original mini series)
  • Webster
  • Wonder Woman

Highlights of Motion Picture Work

  • The Abyss (Alan Sylvestri)
  • Altered States
  • A Star is Born (Elmer Bernstein)
  • Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Patrick Williams)
  • Caddyshack 1 and 2 (Johnny Mandel)
  • Ghost (plus 11 other films with Maurice Jarre)
  • Godfather Parts II and III (Carmine Coppola)
  • Gorillas in the Mist and Out Of Africa (John Barry)
  • Grease (Barry Gibb)
  • Lethal Weapon (Michael Kamen)
  • Meet Joe Black (Tom Newman)
  • Nightmare Before Christmas (Danny Elfman)
  • Play Misty for Me (Dee Barton)
  • Poltergeist 1, 2 and 3
  • Star Trek movies (Jerry Goldsmith and others)
  • Rocky (four of the Rocky films with Bill Conti)
  • The Sting (tuba) (Marvin Hamlisch)
  • True Lies (Brad Fiedel)
  • Towering Inferno (John Williams)
  • The Thornbirds (Henry Mancini)

Don Waldrop

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