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RIP Jon Hassell

Influential composer and trumpet player Jon Hassell died on June 26 after over a year of health issues. Starting in the late 70s, his music helped redefine what music could sound like, bringing together influences from around the world with modern technology. Fourth World, Vol 1: Possible Musics, his 1980 collaboration with Brian Eno, was a kind of mission statement that showed the way for many composers and musicians who would follow. Hassell was 84.

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-06-27

Hassell was born March 22, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, and attended the Eastman School of Music, after which he studied at Karlheinz Stockhausen's Cologne Course for New Music in Germany. Upon returning to New York in 1967, he connected with Terry Riley and appeared on the first recording of "In C." He studied musicology in Buffalo and also worked with La Monte Young. With Riley amd Young, he traveled to India to study with vocalist Pandit Pran Nath, awakening his love of traditional music from around the world.

His own recording career started with Vernal Equinox in 1978, applying ideas from Indian vocal music to a trumpet processed with electronics. It set the stage for his later work, which would explore these ideas more fully and in many different ways.

In addition to his own work, he guested on recordings by a diverse range of artists: Tears for Fears, k.d.lang, Ani DiFranco, Ry Cooder, The Manhattan Transfer, and many more.

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Related artist(s): Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Terry Riley

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