Arts profile

Paul Hill: 'Bones in Church

Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2000

Three bands: Trombonist Paul Hill plays before work, after work and in the garage after his family has gone to bed. A 'bone player in three diverse Juneau music groups, he said he practices two to three hours every day.

Hill plays orchestral music with the Juneau Symphony, jazz and big band music with the Juneau Community Big Band, and a variety of styles with Bones North, a trombone quartet he formed with David Landers, Dorothy Buller and Scott Black. They cover the range of voices for the instrument - soprano, tenor, alto - and Hill plays bass trombone.

Bones North: The quartet has been playing in several churches in the area and performed during services Sunday at Northern Light Church. Bones North performs alone and also with church organists. Hill said the group features the music of Bach, who wrote a lot of music that works well for a trombone quartet.

``In Germany, trombone quartets and trombone choirs are very common in churches,'' he said.

Some background: Hill, 42, is a naval officer and a mechanical engineer with Naval Forces Alaska. He's played the 'bone for 30 years. While in high school in Tacoma he played in the National High School Honor Band. He played professionally while in college in eastern Washington and majored in music, but he switched to engineering.

``Better career prospects,'' he said.

He and his family transferred to Juneau about a year and a half ago. He has a 2-year-old daughter, and she already has her own trombone mouthpiece.

``Stardust'' to Debussy: Hill said each style offers a different reward.

``There's more opportunity for self-expression in the jazz band,'' he said.

Classical is completely different. Instead of playing non-stop, as with the big band and the quartet, symphonic music requires lots of rests, then bursts of difficult passages of music. He said he appreciates the discipline required to play classical music.

``I think it's beautiful stuff and it makes me feel good to play it,'' he said.

String-a-thon: Bones North will be the brass contingent at the String-a-thon benefit for the middle school and high school orchestras Friday night at Floyd Dryden Middle School. The group will also perform March 11 at Symphony Showcase.

Hill organized Brassfest in December, a concert featuring several Juneau brass ensembles, and plans to put another concert together in the future.

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