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Musician

Jon Hassell

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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.

After 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 LaMonte 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.

In the last two decades, he has recorded 11 highly influential, category-defying solo albums which have, over the years, become so widely appropriated that many of their innovations have become woven anonymously into the texture of contemporary music high and low.

While the liner notes for his 1983 record Aka-Darbari-Java/Magic Realism 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 who—after collaborations with Hassell—steered the Fourth World idea into the avant-pop sphere where it has since evolved into myriad forms of "electronica", "new age", and "world music."

Notable 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

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Article: Album Review

Robert Diack: Small Bridges

Read "Small Bridges" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan


It is heartening to hear a new artist coming on strong. Drummer Robert Diack's self-released debut, Lost Villages, placed the artist in the visionary column of jazz artists, as he spotlighted, with an original voice, the concept concerning a series of flooded townships in Southern Ontario, Canada, places put underwater in the 1950s for ...

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Article: Album Review

Jon Balke: Siwan: Hafla

Read "Siwan: Hafla" reviewed by David Bruggink


A large appeal of ECM Records has always been its encouragement of cross-cultural collaboration. Across countries and genres, listeners and critics alike have reveled in records from Codona (1979) to Le Pas du Chat Noir (2001), Chants, Hymns and Dances (2004) and Arco Iris (2011).  There is joy in seeing musicians from diverse backgrounds come together to have their compositions treated with ...

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Article: Album Review

RedGreenBlue: The End And The Beginning

Read "The End And The Beginning" reviewed by Chris May


RedGreenBlue sound like they have emerged from the same synapse-snapping dope bunker that La Monte Young and Jon Hassell exited with their Theatre Of Eternal Music in the 1970s, whacked out on opium, hashish and mescaline, dazed but not confused. RedGreenBlue may or may not indulge in the same psychotropic self-medication as their Lower East Side ...

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Article: Album Review

Akusmi: Fleeting Future

Read "Fleeting Future" reviewed by Chris May


Anyone who enjoys the landmark albums that are Terry Riley's minimalist manifesto In C (Columbia, 1968) and Jon Hassell's fourth world masterpiece Dream Theory In Malaya (EG, 1981) is in for a big treat. Actually, a triple treat. French-born, London-based composer and producer Pascal Bideau's entrancing Fleeting Future is redolent of not one of those albums, ...

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Article: Album Review

Shabaka: Afrikan Culture

Read "Afrikan Culture" reviewed by Chris May


It would be easy to mislay one's critical faculties when it comes to Shabaka Hutchings. The tenor saxophonist and clarinetist has since 2015 so invigorated the British jazz scene and, more recently, the international one, while eloquently articulating the potential of Afrikan cosmological thinking to realign the disorders of the modern industrial world, that the gravitational ...

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Article: Album Review

Flock: Flock

Read "Flock" reviewed by Chris May


One of the strengths of the alternative jazz scene which has grown in London since around 2016 is the interconnectivity of its players. Everyone knows each other and ad hoc bands constantly come together. Flock is the latest such conclave and it is something of a supergroup. On this its first album--others are ...

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Article: Multiple Reviews

Miles Davis & Don Cherry: Which One Is The Grifter?

Read "Miles Davis & Don Cherry: Which One Is The Grifter?" reviewed by Chris May


The Swiss-based ezz-thetics label's Revisited strand of reissues is a jazz connoisseur's dream. The label identifies outstanding albums of the 1960s, sets one of its gifted audio engineers to mastering them and makes them newly available. Earlier editions of many of these albums are hard to find and the sound on all of them is substantially ...

Article: Live Review

Palm Jazz 2021: Nils Petter Molvær & Wacław Zimpel

Read "Palm Jazz 2021: Nils Petter Molvær & Wacław Zimpel" reviewed by Martin Longley


The Nils Petter Molvær Quartet Jazovia Cultural Centre Gliwice, Poland October 10, 2021 Gliwice is in the south of Poland, not far from Katowice, or even Kraków. It has its own jazz festival, which usually spreads over several weeks, featuring two concerts each evening, in the dedicated Rynek ...

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Article: Live Review

Citadelic 2021

Read "Citadelic 2021" reviewed by Martin Longley


Citadelic Citadelpark Gent, Belgium August 16-18, 2021 Your scribe took a three-day slice out of the six-day Citadelic festival, which had returned to its accustomed Citadelpark following a switch of location in 2020. He arrived for the second half of this 14th edition, catching three or four acts ...


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