Jon Hassell [1] (Live in Copenhagen, May 22nd, 2015)

Jon Hassell [2] (Live in Copenhagen, May 22nd, 2015)

JON HASSELL LAST NIGHT THE MOON CAME

Jon Hassell

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, Hassell received his master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. During this time he became involved in European serial music, especially the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, and so after finishing his studies at Eastman, he enrolled in the Cologne Course for New Music (founded and directed by Stockhausen) for two years. Hassell returned to the U.S. in 1967, where he met Terry Riley in Buffalo, New York and performed on the first recording of Riley’s seminal work In C in 1968. He pursued his Ph.D. in musicology in Buffalo and performed in La Monte Young‘s Theatre of Eternal Music in New York City, contributing to the 1974 LP Dream House 78′ 17″.

On his return to Buffalo in the early 1970s, Hassell was introduced to the music of Indian Pandit Pran Nath, a specialist in the Kiranic style of singing. Hassell, Young, Marian Zazeela, and Riley went together to India to study with Nath. His work with Nath awoke his appetite for traditional musics of the world, and on the album Vernal Equinox, he used his trumpet (treated with various electronic effects) to imitate the vocal techniques to which Nath had exposed him. He stated:

“From 1973 up until then I was totally immersed in playing raga on the trumpet. I wanted the physical dexterity to be able to come into a room and be able to do something that nobody else in the world could do. My aim was to make a music that was vertically integrated in such a way that at any cross-sectional moment you were not able to pick a single element out as being from a particular country or genre of music.”

In 1980, he collaborated with Brian Eno on the album Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics and appeared on the Eno-produced Talking Heads album Remain in Light. The same year Hassell also performed solo at the Mudd Club. His 1981 release, Dream Theory in Malaya, led to a performance at the first World of Music, Arts and Dance (WOMAD) Festival, organized by Peter Gabriel. He performed and co-wrote tracks on David Sylvian‘s first solo album Brilliant Trees, and its instrumental follow-up Words with the Shaman. In the late 1980s, Hassell contributed to Gabriel’s Passion, the soundtrack album for Martin Scorsese‘s film, The Last Temptation of Christ. Hassell and Pete Scaturro composed the electronic theme music for the television show The Practice. In 1989, Hassell contributed to the Tears for Fears album The Seeds of Love.

Hassell died from natural causes on June 26, 2021 at the age of 84. He had had health issues over the course of the previous year.