Another member of the Sun Ra Arkestra reaches his alter-destiny: Longtime trombonist Tyrone Hill passed away on Sunday, March 11. He was 58.
A native Philadelphian, hailing from the north side of town near the Arkestra group house in Germantown, Hill began playing trombone at Gillespie Junior High. He joined the Arkestra in 1979 and proved a consistent and valuable member until his death. Hill’s jubilant, prominent style became one of the signature sounds on many Arkestra recordings of the ’80s and ’90s-Ra would often rely on Hill to initiate compositions, especially “Discipline 27-II.”
Hill can be heard on over 40 albums with the Sun Ra Arkestra, but he also recorded two albums under his own name (1997’s Out of the Box and 1999’s Soul-Etude, both on CIMP). He also performed and recorded with Elliott Levin, Jemeel Moondoc and roots-rock band NRBQ and its pianist Terry Adams, among many others.
Arkestra trumpeter Fred Adams commented, “I was shoulder to shoulder with Tyrone in the brass section for my entire Arkestra career. His sound always boosted mine and the sum of my trumpet and his trombone always ended up greater than the total of those two instruments.”
Outside of the jazz world, Hill was known as the bandleader on former Black Panther Bobby Seale’s barbecue cooking television show, as well as an avid Philadelphia Eagles fan-he frequently attended home games and played the team’s fight song with his trombone.
A memorial service will be held in Philadelphia at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, at the Church of the Advocate, located at 1801 West Diamond St. More information can be found by calling (215) 236-6773. The Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of Marshall Allen, will pay tribute to Hill by participating in the memorial.
Photo by Roberto Cifarelli