CURRENTLY LIVING IN Los Angeles
after many years in New York, composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell is the visionary
creator of a style of music he describes as Fourth World, a mysterious,
unique hybrid of music both ancient and digital, composed and improvised,
Eastern and Western.
composition studies and university degrees in the USA, he went to Europe
to study electronic and serial music with Karlheinz Stockhausen. Several
years later, he returned to New York where his first recordings were made
with minimalist masters La Monte Young and Terry Riley, through whom he
met the Hindustani raga master, Pandit Pran Nath, and embarked on a lifelong
quest to transmute his teacher’s kirana vocal mastery into a new trumpet
sound and style.
Since 1977 he has recorded 10 highly influential, category-defeating solo
albums which have, over the years, been so widely appropriated that many
of their innovations have become woven anonymously into the texture of
contemporary music high and low.
the liner notes for his 1983 record Aka-Darbari-Java describe a technology-tradition
balance resulting in a “‘coffee-colored’ classical music of the future”,
it was innovators in the field of pop such as Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel
whoafter collaborations with Hassellsteered the Fourth World idea into
the avant-pop sphere where it has since morphed into myriad forms (“Asian
Underground”, for example).
concert appearances have included The Next Wave at the Brooklyn Academy
of Music, Serious Fun at Lincoln Center, La Foret Museum in Tokyo, the
Berlin Jazz Festival, the Paris Biennale, a Japan tour with Farafina, a
traditional group of drummers and dancers from Burkina Faso and a spectacular
appearance with eight Moroccan tribal groups at Expo 92 in Seville to celebrate
Moroccan Independence Day. A European tour in November 1997 included sold-out
performances at L’Opera de Nice and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
scores include Sulla Strada, created for the Venice Biennale, and Zangezi,
directed by Peter Sellars. He has collaborated on presentations by fashion
avant-gardists Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo and for choreographic works
by Merce Cunningham and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. The Kronos Quartet
commissioned and recorded his ‘Pano da Costa’. In 1996 The Netherlands
Dance Theater commissioned Lurch a major, evening-length piece choreographed
by dance maverick Gideon Obarzanek to the music of Jon Hassell, arranged
and remixed for performance by two onstage DJs.
an all-acoustic, audiophile album produced by Ry Cooder, opens a surprising
new chapter with microscopic focus on Jon’s completely unique trumpet sound
and style, with jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson, classical Indian flutist
Ronu Majumdar and Ry’s unmistakeable guitar.
The director Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) has cast Jon Hassell in his
new film The Million Dollar Hotel in which he will play both an onscreen
and offscreen musical role. Bono is co-producer and U2 will provide some
new songs for the soundtrack record to be supervised/produced by Eno and
Daniel Lanois. (Re-uniting these two frequent collaborators with Jon Hassell
in the same project for the first time since Hassell’s 1989 Flash of the
This year Jon Hassell continues work on a book exploring the possibilities
of an imaginative extrapolation of the Fourth World musical paradigm into
the wider context of culture and psychology.
Activity: A remix with Björk and producer Guy Sigsworth. Television
appearances and recording with a variety of pop artists such as Howie B,
Seal, K D Lang, Ani DiFranco. Featured artist in new films and soundtrack
records such as Mike Nichols’ Primary Colors, Wim Wenders’ The End of Violence
(both Ry Cooder scores), Richard Kwietniowski’s Love and Death in Long
Island . The ABC television drama series, The Practice, for which Jon co-wrote
the theme, recently won the Emmy Award.
COURTESY JOHN COULTHART!