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Albums by Jon Hassell

Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street

Jon Hassell

Jon Hassell was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up with ears alert to divergent aspects of the jazz tradition, one early influence including Maynard Ferguson’s “stratospheric” trumpeting with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. While studying at the Eastman School of Music Hassell became increasingly interested in serial music and more experimental expressions of the new music avant-garde, in the mid-60s travelling to Cologne to study with Karlheinz Stockhausen. Returning to New York in 1967 he met and befriended Terry Riley. Hassell played on Riley’s landmark recording “In C”, and was introduced by him to La Monte Young with whose Dream House project he toured through the 1970s. An encounter with the music of Indian singer Pandit Pran Nath proved pivotal. Hassell studied extensively with Pran Nath, subsequently incorporating vocal inflections of raga into his trumpet playing, developing a new style for his instrument and his music as a whole. “Vernal Equinox” (1977) laid down the matrix of the idiosyncratic yet wide-open idiom Hassell has continued to develop and redefine over the last three decades: “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 1986 Brian Eno, a frequent collaborator, would observe that “Jon Hassell is an inventor of new forms of music – of new ideas of what music could be and how it might be made. His work is drawn from his whole cultural experience without fear or prejudice. It is an optimistic, global vision that suggests not only possible musics but possible futures.” An enticing proposal for the most diverse musicians, Hassell’s collaborators over the years have ranged from Peter Gabriel to the Kronos Quartet, Ry Cooder and Bono, and his trumpet performances have featured on recordings with Björk, Baaba Maal, Ibrahim Ferrer, Ani di Franco, David Sylvian, the Talking Heads and many others.

Additionally his playing and/or music has been heard in numerous films including “The Last Temptation of Christ”, “Trespass”, “Wild Side”, “Greenwich Mean Time”, “Angel Eyes” , “Owning Mahowny”, “Million Dollar Hotel” and more.

Jon Hassell’s albums as a leader are “Vernal Equinox” (1977), “Earthquake Island” (1978), “Fourth World Vol 1: Possible Musics” (1980), “Fourth World Vol. 2 : Dream Theory In Malaya” (1981), “Aka-Darbari-Java / Magic Realism” (1983), “Power Spot” (1986), “The Surgeon Of The Nightsky Restores Dead Things By The Power Of Sound” (1987), “Flash Of The Spirit” (1988), “City: Works Of Fiction” (1990), “Dressing For Pleasure” (1994), “Sulla Strada” (1995), “The Vertical Collection” (1997), “Fascinoma” (1999), “Maarifa Street / Magic Realism 2” (2005), “Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street” (2009).

Since 2005 he has led the collective Maarifa Street.

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