Currently living in Los Angeles after many years in New York, composer / trumpeter Jon Hassell is the pioneer of a style of music he describes as Fourth World, a mysterious, unique hybrid of music ancient and modern, acoustic 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 master Indian raga singer, Pandit Pran Nath and began a long and intensive study of non-Western musics.
Since 1977 he has recorded 10 solo albums, along the way working with Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, David Sylvian, Ry Cooder, The Kronos Quartet. Most recently he was special guest performer with Seal on MTV’s “Unplugged”. Theatrical 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, Alvin Ailey and Elisa Monte, Hubbard Street Dance and Nederlands Dans Theater.
Simon Hopkins recently summed it up in the UK music magazine, THE WIRE: “Jon Hassell’s ideas and techniques have so thoroughly permeated lo- and hi-brow contempary music … that it’s difficult to think what contemporary music would sound like without his influence. I repeat: there’s catagorically no doubt that Jon Hassell has had as an important effect on contemporary music as Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix or James Brown or the Velvet Underground.”
‘The Million Dollar Hotel’
Island Records 2000
‘Jon Hassell with Ry Cooder & Ronu Majundar’
NYEV Music. 1998
‘Dressing For Pleasure’
Warner Bros. 1994
‘City: Works Of Fiction’
Warner Bros. 1990
‘Flash Of The Spirit’
‘The Surgeon Of The Nightsky Restores Dead Things By The Power Of Sound’
Editions E.G. 1983
‘Dream Theory In Malaya’
Editions E.G. 1981
Editions E.G. 1980
Lovely Music 1977
“Miles Davis and Jon Hassell are both trumpet players who have transcended the instrument’s inherent limitations and now use it as flexibly, as expressively and as intimately as a great singer uses his voice. They are both visionary composers who use their knowledge of American traditions and the musics of the world to create vivid landscapes that seem to palpitate with a life of their own. They are both musicians with serious reputations who have nevertheless crossed the boundaries that separate ‘art’ and ‘popular’ music.
“NEW YORK TIMES”
“Hassell has long been admired for his work with Brian Eno, the Peters Gabriel and Sellars and the Kronos Quartet … If there were any justice, Hassell’s 10 majestic albums would already be broadcast on their own radio and cable stations 24 hours a day : they’re the secret sound track of our public and private lives.”
“Face it, it’s all been said about Hassell before, but perhaps this, at least, is worth restating: Jon Hassell’s ideas and techniques have so thoroughly permeated lo- and hi-brow contemporary electronic music, albeit often in a third or fourth hand way…that it’s difficult to think what contemporary music would sound like without his influence. I repeat: there’s categorically no doubt that Hassell has had as an important effect on contemporary music as Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix or James Brown or the Velvet Underground.”
“Jon Hassell is one of the world’s most innovative musicians and one of today’s most influential composers. His music has established a genre that goes beyond the notions of jazz, neo-classicism, new music or new age. Jon Hassell’s concept of Fourth World Music transcends the so-called ‘primitive’ and the so-called ‘futurist’ by seamlessly uniting traditional rhythmic and melodic concepts with recombinant aesthetics made possible by the creations of high technology.”
“…work of quite extraordinary beauty … This pan-cultural music swirls and rises like smoke … Hassell blends his experiences in such a way that the components. African drumming, Indian microtonality, Balinese tranquility; make a new palette while forfeiting none of the individual colors.”
“…Extraordinary, otherworldly music…”
DANCE PERFORMANCES : Merce Cunningham, MOMIX, Elisa Monte, Dai Rakuda Kan (Butoh), Netherlands Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance, Alvin Ailey.
FILM / TV : 1997 – “The Practice” (Title Theme) ABC Television Series produced by David E. Kelley 1996 – “Love and Death in Long Island” (Score–with The Startled Insects) Dir. by Richard Kwietniowski / with John Hurt and Jason Priestly. (1997 Release) 1996 – “L.A. Firefighters” (Theme and Score) Fox TV (6 Episodes June-July) 1995 – “Wild Side” (Score) Dir. by Donald Cammel. (Christopher Walken, Joan Chen) 1993 – “Trespass” (Soundtrack) / with Ry Cooder / Sire / Warner Bros. 9 45220-2 1989 – “Passion” (Soundtrack: The Last Temptation Of Christ ) / with Peter Gabriel / RealWorld RWCD1 1985 – “Birdy” (Soundtrack) / with Peter Gabriel / Virgin CA 1167
ADS / FASHION : Fruitopia / Comme des Garçons / Issey Miyake / Karl Lagerfeld “Sun, Moon, Stars” fragrance
THEATRICAL : Lurch: A Netherlands Dance Theater production created by Gideon Obarzanek based on the music of Jon Hassell. A “Fourth World retrospective in DJ form”. 12 evenings in Sept. 96 in The Hague with new productions in the rest of Europe and Australia in 96-97. Zangezi: Score for the play by the visionary Russian futurist, Velimir Khlebnikov. A collaboration with director Peter Sellars and writer Paul Schmidt commissioned for the opening of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles Dec. 1986. Additional performances at Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy and the Museum of Fine Art, Boston. Sulla Strada (“On the Road”–Kerouac) : The “Ubu” (Italian Critics Circle “Tony” award) prize for best musical score for a theatrical work in 1982 season. CD: Sulla Strada / Materiali Sonori / MASO CD 90066.
German Government grants (DAAD) for studies in electronic music and composition with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne 1965-67.
Italian Radio (RIA) grant for creation of an electronic work at Studio di Fonologia, Milan 1965.
Rockefeller Fellow at Center for Creative and Performing Arts, SUNY at Buffalo, under direction of Lukas Foss, 1967-69.
CAPS award in Music Composition from NY State Council on the Arts 1975.
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship 1977.
DeMenil Foundation grant 1977.
French Ministry of Culture (Jack Lang) invitation as participant and performer in “Rencontres Nord/Sud”, an international conference on aspects of cultural integration. Montpelier, June 1982.
The “Ubu” (Italian Critics Circle “Tony” award) prize for best musical score for a theatrical work in 1982 season for “Sulla Strada” (“On the Road”) by the Maggazini Criminali company.
1983-84 Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities “New Works” award for “Zangezi”, a collaboration with director Peter Sellars and writer/translator Paul Schmidt on the play by the visionary Russian futurist, Velimir Khlebnikov.
1987 commission from the Kronos Quartet: “Pano da Costa” (“Cloth from the Coast”) recorded on Nonesuch.
“Jazz in Sardinia” Festival commission for the creation of a collaborative program and tour with a native African group:”Farafina”, from Burkina Faso.1987.
1994–Nominated for first CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts.