Jon Hassell

Jon Hassell, born March 22, 1937 and died June 26, 2021 was an American composer and trumpet player. He lived from the 1960s to today. His most notable accomplishment was the creation of “Fourth World”, a concept that describes a “unified primitive/futurist music” that combines elements from various world ethnic traditions and modern electronic techniques. Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible musics, Brian Eno’s 1980 collaboration. He worked with many musical artists, including Talking Heads and Farafina as well as Tears for Fears, Tears for Fears and Tears for Fears. Born in Memphis Tennessee, USA, Hassell earned his master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York. He became interested in European serial music during this period, particularly Karlheinz Stockhausen’s work. After completing his Eastman studies, Hassell enrolled for two years in the Cologne Course for New Music, which was founded and directed by Stockhausen. In 1967, Hassell was back in the U.S., where he met Terry Riley and recorded the first recording of Riley’s seminal work In C. He earned his Ph.D. from Buffalo in musicology and was a performer in La Monte Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music, New York City. This performance contributed to the 1974 album Dream House 78′ 17. Hassell returned to Buffalo in 1970 and was introduced to Indian Pandit Prann Nath’s music. Pran Nath is a specialist in Kiranic singing. Young, Riley, Marian Zazeela and Hassell all went to India together to study with Nath. His time with Nath awakened his interest in traditional musics around the world. On the album Vernal Equinox, Riley used his trumpet, which he had treated with electronic effects, to imitate the vocal techniques that Nath had taught him. He said, “From 1973 to then I was completely immersed in playing the trumpet raga. I desired to have the physical dexterity and ability to go into a room and do something no one else could. My goal was to create music that was vertically integrated so that you couldn’t pick out a single element as coming from a specific country or music genre at any given cross-sectional moment. He collaborated with Brian Eno in 1980 on Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics, and appeared on Eno’s Talking Heads album “Remain in Light”. Hassell performed solo at The Mudd Club that year. Peter Gabriel organized the first World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival (WOMAD), in 1981. His 1981 album, Dream Theory, was a success. He co-wrote and performed tracks on David Sylvian’s first solo album Brilliant Trees and its instrumental follow up Words with the Shaman. Hassell was a contributor to Gabriel’s Passion in the late 1980s. This soundtrack album was used for Martin Scorsese’s film, The Last Temptation of Christ. The electronic theme music was composed by Pete Scaturro and Hassell for The Practice. Hassell was a contributor to The Seeds of Love, a Tears for Fears album. Hassell, a natural cause of death, died on June 26, 2021 at the 84th year. Hassell had suffered from health problems over the past year. Hassell invented the term “Fourth World” as a way to describe his work in creating a “unified primitive/futuristic tone that combines features from different world ethnic styles with advanced electronics techniques.” His trumpet playing was processed extensively by electronic means. Critics have also noted that Hassell used nonwestern traditional musics and that Miles Davis had a significant influence on his style. This included Davis’ use electronics, modal harmony and subtle lyricism. Both on record and during live performances, Hassell made use of western instruments–keyboards, bass, electric guitar, and percussion–to create modal, hypnotic grooves, over which he played microtonally-inflected trumpet phrases in the style of Nath’s Kiranic vocals. Wikipedia

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