Jon Hassell


atmospherics: stories in words and pictures

 n e w s 

 b i o g r a p h y 

 p r e s s 

 a r t i c l e s 

 d i s c o g r a p h y 

 c o n c e r t s 

 s t a g e 

 l i n k s 



• page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

single page

• download all as txt | pdf


"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."

"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..."

"Fourth World music is the soundtrack to an imaginary future culture based on the mingling of ancient and modern, Western sophistication and Third World primitivism. Its music for nowhere / nowhen, a place that doesn't actually exist yet."

"Best New Genre / Uncategorizable Artist"


"He sounds like a combination of Miles Davis and Milton Nascimento."

"A brilliant musician." (CNN Interview)

"One of the three or four players of wind instruments in the world who can command your attention with one note."

"I never heard anyone play the trumpet like that."

"If you're looking for interesting new music, I recommend all the
works of Jon Hassell."

"I've really gotten into your Fascinoma. There's real clarity and honesty about it...The music is fantastic, and its undefendedness inspires instant confidence. This is very much the mood of the times."

"This music is amazing...I feel strong connection to your Fourth World idea."

"What a beautiful atmosphere he makes!"

"Love Dream Theory in Malaya...brilliant."

"The mail arrived, and in it was Maarifa Street. And all of a sudden the harassment turned into a zenlike experiment, I was floating on a musical flying carpet, and every silly thing I performed became a contribution to the harmony of the Universe. I'll never be grateful enough to Jon for his music."

"Love your records...followed your work since the eighties."

"A visionary."

"Power Spot is amazing!"

"I've always thought about your music as 'secretly happy'."

PETER GABRIEL on The Last Temptation of Christ
"It was exciting to sit in the studio and build up pictures...For the
section called 'Passion', I used a rhythm I recorded in Brazil, some
Qawwali singing, a little of Youssou N'Dour's vocals, Jon Hassell's
trumpet and an English choirboy."

"Maarifa Street is Magnifico!!! Your playing just gets better all the time...harmonic remembrances of Gil Evans and echos of spaciousness Miles trumpeting through the benediction of Sri Pran Nath-ji...only you could do this. Also what a fine tribute to Mati...May many more cosmic morphisms be born of the Universal Sound Current through the womb of your horn."

"Up before the light...The birds and Fascinoma in stereo...I come back
to it again and again. Thank you."

"Beautiful! Superb, excellent documents of the spirit. Thanks ever so

"Almost all of the musicians I meet at the moment seem to regard Jon
Hassell as one of the God-like geniuses of contemporary music."

"What a gift...I will treasure it. (Fascinoma is) a spectacular symbiosis of the extemporary, of what's known and what can be discovered in such a setting. With such talent, and a power to communicate"

"The most innovative, important composer alive."


MOJO / July 2005 / Mike Barnes
Four Stars * * * *
"It's amazing how spontaneous this set sounds considering that it derives from four concerts, with parts chopped up, replayed, moved from one performance to another or even taken from previous recordings. Hassell had been erring towards a slicker triphop infused sound of late. But 'Divine SOS' starts proceedings here with a buoyant hi-hat groove evocative of Miles Davis's In A Silent Way, although it drops out from time to time leaving dubby spaces. One tends to forget what an individual sound Hassell has until he duets on the only 'undoctored' recording here with fellow trumpeter Paolo Fresu; his instrument sounds more like some buzzing, fizzing firefly than an instrument made of brass. His lines, full of terse melodic figures, are affecting throughout, especially on the title track. Here Hassell takes the spotlight in a meditative excursion, as the group provide an ambient backdrop."

PLAYBOY (France)
Five Stars * * * * *
"Jon Hassell is an extraterrestrial in the jazz galaxy...
Teeming with details, free as the wind blowing in the desert, this celestial jazz is amazing. Edgy but eminently accessible, Maarifa Street leads us to the peaks where the distant horizon becomes a mirage which this music embraces. An unbelievable invitation to meditation."

THE WIRE (UK) / March 2005 / Colin Buttimer
"Music which conveys the impression of gossamer-like veils floating gradually to earth.... at once eery and beautiful."

CD REVIEWS.COM / May 2005 / Peter Dolan
"Ever listened to really early Pink Floyd? 'Interstellar Overdrive' era Floyd? Or King Crimson? There's something special about certain types of music. They reach in behind the ears...and pull out things that you could swear never belonged to you...Jon Hassell's Maarifa Street: Magical Realism II is an immersive experience... This is music that plays with the ephemeral curtain between the conscious and the unconscious. No...really."

ARTHUR / September 2005 / John Payne
"Maarifa is...well. it's music that one wants never to end...incredibly seductive...fragrant sound structures soothe and stimulate like a soak in ambrosial seas...the best of Hassell's formidable achievements."

THE WIRE / March 2005 / Colin Buttimer
"The journey to Maarifa Street from its predecessor Fascinoma has taken six years: an appreciable interval in which the likes of Nils Molvaer, Arve Henriksen and Erik Truffaz have forged solo careers influenced to varying degrees both by Hassell's ideas and playing style. Two years before Fascinoma, The Vertical Collection presented eleven tracks made up entirely of samples of Hassell's back-catalogue reconfigured, with the trumpeter's approval, by Peter Freeman who supplies bass and programming on Maarifa Street. The outcome was comparable to the shuffling of a Tarot deck: same cards, different outcomes. Although the approach potentially signalled a new level of introspection, a fascination for the sampling of resonant external sources was already woven into the DNA of Hassell's oeuvre, in the call of night creatures on Vernal Equinox or the amalgam of pygmies, gamelan and exotic '50s orchestrations on Aka-Darbari-Java.

"Maarifa Street ('maarifa' means knowledge or wisdom in Arabic) in part represents a further act of taking stock. Small elements of earlier pieces are intermittently deployed as semi-structural elements or tonal shading. Thus, the edgy rhythm of 'The Gods, They Must Be Crazy' from 1994's Dressing For Pleasure intermittently cuts into 'New Gods' while 'Darbari Bridge' rearranges various elements from 1983's Aka-Darbari-Java...Attentive listening...reveals a much more subtle undertaking that gradually suffuses the mind like a mixture of scents both familiar and foreign, earthy and delicate. The insertion of motifs from previous recordings invites contemplation of the Zen Buddhist concept of the Eternal Now as well as questions about the motive force of innovation. These sonic keepsakes also tease playfully at the memory, forcing the listener up and out of the immediate moment into unexpected reminiscence. They also act as shared territory between past and present and serve to reinvigorate the earlier music. However, most of Maarifa Street is newly recorded music which conveys the impression of gossamer-like veils floating gradually to earth. These layers are flecked through with contemporary electronic sounds and occasionally Dhafer Youssef's heartfelt yell, which is firmly located in the middle distance.

"Maarifa Street is the product of three concert performances and extensive studio reconfiguring that has resulted in a hybrid form more complex than its untreated parts might otherwise have offered up. Alongside the sonic and temporal weaving, Hassell also stirs in a number of references, primary among which is his dedication of the album to the late Mati Klarwein whose painting 'Crucifixion' illustrates the sleeve. Touchingly, the field recording of sheep bells that rounds out 'Open Secret (Paris)' was captured on a visit to the painter's Mallorca home. Combined with Youssef's oud playing this evokes images of a prelapsarian idyll. Hassell's own playing throughout is as rich and sensual as ever, his sound floating over and through the music like a gulf stream current or autumnal Saharan wind. The closing 'Open Secret (Milano)' features a duet between Hassell and the Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, whose open playing evokes the spirit of Miles Davis. The resulting music is at once eery and beautiful, backward and forward looking: a suitable conclusion to Jon Hassell's thirteenth album."

AMAZON.COM (Editorial Review by John Diliberto)
"In an era of world fusions and unlikely global collaborations, Jon Hassell continues reformulating the alchemy of his Fourth World music in fascinating and original ways. Maarifa Street is his first electric album in some time, and it's a deliriously seductive brew of Miles Davis-meets-dub stuttered through sampled groove fractures. Drawn from live recordings made over the last few years, the album illustrates Hassell's gift for carving soundscapes in real time, laying his breathy, harmonized trumpet lines across an interior panorama of ambient voodoo jazz. Playing mostly with guitar mutant Rick Cox over deep dub bass lines from Peter Freeman, Hassell's music is fractal in its constant reinvention. The deeper you go, the more varied it becomes, as self-similar patterns are spun and shaped into ever more complex designs. Tunisian singer Dhafer Youssef adds his desert cries to Hassell's verdant mix on tracks like 'Divine S.O.S.' and 'Open Secret.' Although Maarifa Street's source material is live, the sound is studio-designed, with performances mixed, matched, and collaged in a fashion not unlike the cover by Abdul Mati Klarwein (who did Santana's Abraxas and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew). With an extreme stereo mix, instruments appear, shift, morph, and swirl, as if on a slo-mo carousel plopped into a global bazaar of the imagination. The subtitle of the album is Magic Realism 2, marking it as a sequel to Aka-Darbari-Java, Hassell's 1983 album of mosaic-like designs. But Maarifa Street is easier to grab onto, and the throbbing bass, programmed pulse fragments, and his innately melodic trumpet carry you through this strange world."

TIME OUT (UK) / Kerstan Mackness
"Play trumpeter Hassell's latest album on iTunes and the genre will come up as "unclassifiable." They'd be just about right. Hassell has been out on his own since his Fourth World collaboration with Brian Eno in the '80's; their fusion of world, jazz and electronica paving the way for trance and ambient world music. Recorded live and then reimagined in the studio, this is his best and funkiest album in years, filled with subterranean bass grooves, big ambient swells, Dhafer Youssef's otherworldly vocals and tons of Hassell's haunting 'Miles in space' trumpet."


LONG DISTANCE CALL / Richard Williams
Aurum Press / London 2000
Essays on Duke Ellington, Curtis Mayfield, Frank Sinatra, Ry Cooder, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Chet Baker, et al.

"Although the emphasis might seem to be on the past, the book's real subject is the life of this music in the present. And, anyway, the past is not where I live. While I was compiling the pieces and rejigging them for publication I was aslo listening to Julian Arguelles' 'Falling Curtain' (from Escapade), Cesaria Evoria's Cafe Atlantico, Roscoe Mitchell's Nine to Get Ready, Macy Gray's On How Life Is, Jon Hassell's 'Nature Boy' and 'Caravanesque' (from Fascinoma), Brad Mehldau's 'London Blues' (from Art of the Trio Vol 4), Counting Crows' 'Mrs. Potter's Lullaby' (from This Desert Life) and Alberto Iglesias's soundtrack to Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother, all created in the last year of the century...Sooner or later, the new century will make us see things differently. Eventually we may find ourselves looking back at the work of these musicians as a legacy, instead of living alongside it. But no one really knows about that. The music makes itself up as it goes along, and so will the future."

A Photographic Essay by Steven Gross / Oxford University Press
"As the twentieth century draws to a close, the global village can claim but a handful of visionary artists able to transcend artificial cultural boundaries and tap into a universally comprehensible and compelling language. One thinks of the musician Jon Hassell's ethereal experiments fusing ancient and ethnic traditions with jazz, hip-hop, and electronic musics. In dance, there is the convergence of Zen and avant-garde in the work of Merce Cunningham, and of African styles and urban modernity in Garth Fagan, New York griot.

"The Zhou Brothers have staked a claim to a similarly preeminent position in painting, with works that partake of prehistoric image-making and the unfettered expressionism that is part of the Western modernist tradition."


LE MONDE (Paris) / 9 October 1999 / Sylvain Siclier
"For the first time Jon Hassell—theorist of the concept of Fourth World Music (the meeting between all musical cultures and electronics)—has chosen, from the big book of jazz, a number of the pieces on this seductive album of ethereal ambiance where attention to the beauty of the instrumental timbre is so remarkably manifested...Sensual dream-like moments where time melts away as it does in the open space of a desert."

DIE ZEIT  (Germany) / 8 December 1999 / Konrad Heidkamp
"Music-Oasis...a painter in freestyle, in always-new musical relationships, ..Jon Hassell improvises as if breath were music...If Miles Davis were still alive—of this much the reviewer can be sure—he would've have been damned jealous."

FEMME (Paris) / December 1999 / Yves Blanc
E.T. of the CD
"One of the most influential artists of this 'fin de millennium'...more than a musician: this is a creator, one of the extremely rare visionaries of new music... For many, Jon Hassell and Miles Davis are the greatest trumpet players this planet has seen. Except that the sound of Miles is no longer so rare: hundreds of trumpet players have adopted it...When Jon plays he concentrates on the idea that he's blowing a conch shell. ..the trumpet of Jon Hassell resembles no other. When you hear it for the first time, you're not entirely certain to recognize what instrument it is. You won't forget it."

STEREO (Germany) / October 1999 / Karl Lippegaus
* * * * * Five Stars
"Between 1980 and 1983, in his Fourth World trilogy...Jon Hassell brought the polyphonic songs of pygmy voices, Indian raga techniques, and virtual sound worlds together. In later albums a kind of ultra-sophisticated and urbane 'ambient music'... With his new CD, Fascinoma, the circle is closed: Jon Hassell returns to the simplicity of his very first album...Here he paints complete musical lines like a Zen-artist making a circle. And then suddenly the melodies open like magical blossoms following a special secret code...After Ibrahim Ferrer and Buena Vista Social Club, producer Ry Cooder has indeed captured a third musical pinnacle."

JAZZ MAGAZINE (France) / July-August 1999 / Mathieu Devert
"The name of Jon Hassell probably doesn't resonate much in the ears of jazz-lovers. That's logical: Hassell is not, strictly speaking, a "jazz artist". He doesn't play, doesn't phrase, like a "jazz artist". And he hardly ever shows up in the company of "jazz artists"... How is it that he is able to make so much emotion happen in a phrase without even playing one note higher than another, all in a breathy whisper, making something that is half "word", half "note"...Rarely has an improviser—and Hassell is definitely that—known how to roam so mysteriously with his instrument, as if between some lost civilization and some ominous future...Yes, it so happens that when jazz doesn't necessarily look like "jazz" (ostentatious, scholarly=grounded) that jazz continues to live."

LES INROCKUPTIBLES (France) / 8-14 September 1999 / Franck Mallet
The King of the Trumpet 
"A truly unusual album, beyond the prevailing fashions...Never, since Miles Davis, has a trumpeter gone so deeply into this way of controlling the breath...With 'Cavaranesque', a free adaptation of Ellington's 'Caravan', the art of Jon Hassell takes on full dimension...To be sure, it has been thirty years since Jon Hassell began to study with an Indian vocal master, Pandit Pran Nath, but this time his technique has shown itself to be refined to such a degree that it comes as new surprise... a feeling of wanting it to go on forever arises..."

DER STANDARD (Vienna) / 10 November 2005 / Andreas Felber
Jon Hassell in Concert at the Wiener Konzerthaus
"Fully conversant with the music of Webern, Stockhausen, the minimalists La Monte Young and Terry Riley, but also with Hindustani raga and jazz, Hassell has been developing for 25 years his vision of a Fourth World in sound, one in which technology and the traditions of all continents would be brought together. The result was, and is, a completely unique sound language which is restrained, yet richly colorful and in every detail meaningful, as one was able to experience Tuesday night in the Konzerthaus...This was a true musical seance, perhaps the concert of the year!"

LA PRESSE / 6 July 2004 / Alain Brunet
Review: Montreal Jazz Festival 25th Anniversary
"...These veterans of (of jazz fusion) could, in fact, find a way toward extending their musical lives. Some examples? There are many, like these: David Byrne, Frank Zappa, Robert Fripp, Paul Simon, Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, Alain Bashung, Jon Hassell. Since he's perfoming this weekend, let's take Jon Hassell. The quest of this Californian of sixty-something years has never stopped. Each chapter of this trumpeter, composer, conceptualist and innovator of new electronic techniques for wind instruments has created new sediments of frequencies and textures via a slow boil."

CORRIERE DELLA SERA / Milan 28 May 2003 / Vittorio Franchini
Between Minimalism and Noise the New Futurism of Hassell
"We could try to define "musica ex machina" and remember the long road that runs between the art-noise of Luigi Russolo, the musician within the group known as the Futurists, and the champions of electronica of today who take note of the work of Jon Hassell, composer, trumpeter—author of a sound track for a film, Wim Wender's The Million Dollar Hotel—who has, in some way, been labeled by it. And the other evening, at the Teatro Dal Verme, for the conclusion of the series, Sound and Visions, organized by the Province of Milan, it was exactly the music for this film that largely fascinated the audience. But perhaps Jon never thought of Russolo, of Marinetti, or of this movement of the distant first years of the 1900's. To consider this idea further, we should probably move into territory which is much closer, from the sophisticated language of a Terry Riley or a La Monte Young, perhaps with a little raga which comes from the master, Pandit Pran Nath, to the tempestuous speech of a Miles Davis—fusing jazz and minimalism, science and dream. Music brimming with references, of hidden meanings, of little annotations, distinctive marks made of noise, which, placed in sequence, become transformed into sounds. But don't think of this as "difficult" music: the world of Hassell is a soft one, expressed in a modest way through a vocabulary capable of turning suddenly familiar. He at the center with his transformed trumpet and around him his partners John Beasley at the keyboards, Rick Cox at the guitar, Peter Freeman on bass. And with them, for two brief sections, Paolo Fresu, the Sardinian jazz trumpeter, also noted for his many excursions in other worlds, from classical to popular. A great success and a special honor to the Province of Milan which had the courage to organize such a concert."


'La Biennale de Paris', ACTUEL, France, May 1985
"Jon Hassell: two exceptional concerts of the great ethereal eccentric, mixer of musical continents, distiller of distant and perfumed sound clouds, trumpeter whose electronically transformed instrument sounds with an incredible softness like an oriental flute, quiet but rigorous theoretician of a "music of the fourth world" who marries futurism to the most ancient traditions."

Gregg Wager, LA TIMES, October 1985
"Jon Hassell's 'Pano de Costa,' a mantra of Native American chants and rhythms, highlighted the evening (Kronos Quartet performance) while demonstrating clearly just what American mimimalist masters are capable of."

Jon Pareles, NEW YORK TIMES September 1985
"The fusion of new and old, Western and non-Western techniques has produced extraordinary music, from Steve Reich's 'Drumming' to Jon Hassell's 'Fourth World Music' to John McLaughlin's first Mahavishnu Orchestra albums."

Marilyn Tucker, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, September 1985
"Jon Hassell's 'Pano de Costa' ('Cloth From the Coast'), commissioned by the Kronos Quartet, is a remarkable piece, and the memory lingers."

Alain Weber, LE MATIN, Paris, May 1985
"Jon Hassell creates a new 'jungle of the future.'"

Glenn O'Brien, ARTFORUM, November 1983
"Aka-Darbari-Java is a particularly beautiful album...simultaneously hypnotic and thought provoking...a lesson in the limitless possibilities of combining and recombining structures, traditions, and esthetics."

Robert Palmer, NEW YORK TIMES, May 1983
(From a combined review of Jon Hassell's Aka-Darbari-Java and Miles Davis's Star People)
"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."

Peter Claessens, VINYL, Amsterdam, September 1985
(From the feature article, 'A New Kind of Hunter')
"A man who likes to roam the world for his music, to take with him in historical, cultural and geographical origin, the most divirgent small musical building stones. But Hassell re-arranges all these differently shaped and colored stones in such a manner that a completely new and solid composition arises. He welds them into a personal portrayal of a world that is hard to place, unless somewhere outside time and space. Hassell seems to say: 'Picture this...' He makes an appeal on the imagination of the listener...(a) soft collision of black and white, traditional and modern elements...The word here is elegance."

Jon Pareles, GENTLEMAN'S QUARTERLY, October 1983
"(Aka-Darbari-Java is)... a floating throbbing dreamscape of sounds that seem both faraway and immediate...a flickering interplay of sounds that echo and overlap to a tribal beat...the total effect is unearthly."

Jim Sullivan, BOSTON GLOBE, September 1983
"Soundtrack music to a film that plays in your mind."

"Magic Realism as applied to music by Hassell can quite nicely rejoin the literary universe of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Octavio Paz in a vast adventure of international cultural mixing."

NEW MUSIC EXPRESS, London, May 1983
"At the accelerated cutting edge of this structure, people and places and ideas and intention and tools collide and combine to form sparks of perfection like: The Gang of Four's Entertainment, Anthony Burgess' Earthly Powers, Jon Hassell's Dream Theory in Malaya, Michael Frayns' Noises Off, Russell Hoban's Ridley Walker. All of which celebrate love and energy and authenticity through the elegance of efficiency. If this could happen all the time we might see things like: nobody in the world starving to death, nuclear disarmament, people realising they matter..."

Ian Pye, MELODY MAKER, London, May 1983
"...a remarkable trumpet player for whom no comparison exists...anyone seriously interested in the new frontiers of music should take the time to investigate Jon Hassell's unique blend of magic and science. As an explorer of other worlds he remains unsurpassed."

Glenn O'Brien, INTERVIEW, May 1982
"Jon Hassell is one of the great inventors and innovators in music."

Colette Godard, LE MONDE, June 1982
(From a review of Magazzini Criminali's production of Jack Kerouac's Sulla Strada [On the Road], performed at the Venice Biennale.)
"...the spectacle unfolds enveloped by the music...the music is the unchanging and unforeseeable road on which flows the obsessions and fantasys of Kerouac... The music sustains and prolongs the action as for an opera and furthermore, it is one. A form of "new wave"opera invented by this group from Florence."

Mario Gamba, IL MANIFESTO, Milano, June 1982
"Without the music of Jon Hassell, the last production of Magazzini Criminali (Sulla Strada) would not exist... A thing of dreams, sweet, incredibly tropical and astral...building to an almost unbearable fascination until the apocalyptic finale."

Franco Quadri, PANORAMA, Italy, June 1982
"...the grandiose and insinuating music of Jon Hassell, arriving at the essence of his "fourth world "...balancing between noises of nature and sentimental inclinations...a cascade of inexorable forward movement and at the same time a tense, rarefied atmosphere of stasis."

Alberto Parassino, LA REPUBBLICA, Milano, December 1983
"Announcement of the "Ubu award (voted by Italian theater and film critics) to Jon Hassell for the music for Sulla Strada."

Daniela Morera, L'UOMO VOGUE, April 1982
"(Dream Theory in Malaya is)...the most advanced classical music...transports the mind to distant worlds..."

Robert Palmer, PENTHOUSE, April 1982
"(Dream Theory in Malaya)...tapes of frogs in a bog and of Malayan tribesmen beating out rhythms in the flowing waters of a stream are woven into the music like shimmering threads, lending it an almost subliminal aliveness... The result is sheer magic."

Richard Williams, LONDON TIMES, July 1982
(review of WOMAD Festival performance)
"He creates an ambience so entrancing that one might easily miss the restless invention of his improvised lines, which are packed with the exquisite detailing of classical Indian singing."

Ian Pye, MELODY MAKER, July 1982
(WOMAD Music and Rhythm LP)
"The real calypso gets in on the act...and sets a precedent which none of the Western whiz-kids can follow, including Pete Townshend with 'Ascension Two' until the masterful Jon Hassell jumps in...his expansive and captivating compositions, of which this is a fine example, represent the most compelling and visionary explorations in modern ethnics."

Robert Palmer, NEW YORK TIMES, November 1981
(From feature article, 'An Explorer on Music's Borderlands')
"When one recalls how many innovative rock performers have backgrounds in avant-garde performance art, links between the avant-garde and popular music are not surprising. But Mr. Hassell and Miss (Laurie) Anderson are addressing a pop audience without making radical changes in their art."

Richard Williams, LONDON TIMES, November 1981
(Commentary on Hassell's New York Public Theater performance)
"Of musicians presently dreaming of a 'world music' in which various ethnic strains are reconciled, the American trumpeter has achieved an approach which is producing work of quite extraordinary beauty. 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...whatever one's reservations about contemporary eclecticism, here is a synthesis which delivers the goods and which certainly deserves the widest possible exposure."

ACTUEL, France, October 1981
"Among 'ambient music', minimalist constructions, and derivatives of Africa and the Orient, Hassell defines a unique territory and explores it methodically... The music penetrates everywhere into the pores of your skin...not very far from ecstasy... One doesn't listen; one plunges into it."

Robert Palmer, NEW YORK TIMES, December 1980
("The 10 Best of the Albums Issued in 1980")
"Fourth World Vol. 1/Possible Musics...most engaging on this eerie essay in primitive futurism."

VOGUE, September 1980
"(Possible Musics is) a fine blend of restless, African-inspired percussiveness..."

Robert Palmer, ROLLING STONE, September 1980
"...Hassell's recent performance at the Mudd Club...backed by a single guitarist and Nana Vasconçelos, the Brazilian percussionist, Hassell played his trumpet through an electronic device called a harmonizer and controlled a digital system that trapped, held and repeated certain parts of his improvisation. The result reproduced the extraordinary other-worldly music on the album (Possible Musics) in all its rich detail."

Jean-Francols Bizot, Editor, ACTUEL, October 1980
(From a cover story about the birth of "primitive futurism", featuring in cover photo Jon Hassell, Brian Eno and David Byrne with Walter DeMaria's New Mexico landwork, 'Lightning Field' in the background.)
"Jon Hassell has invented the music of the Fourth World... What could one say about the sound? A chorus of children, shepherd's horns in the distance, the cry of an unknown kind of animal? Its refrains have a perfume of the oriental but without a precise reference, impossible to situate between India or Tibet or Japan or Australian aborigines. The notes are as if cloaked in layers of cotton, inflated with echoes and resonances: clouds of sound, halos of melody... One hears symphonies at the edge of consciousness. And all of these arabesques lying in a moss of soft rhythms—handclaps, warm growls of tabla drums, the hissing of Brazilian percussion which echoes the noise of the tropical forest."

Richard Mortifoglio, THE VILLAGE VOICE, July 1980
"Like a good anthropologist, Hassell keeps his distance (in Possible Musics), and his sky-above-mud-below restraint evokes the best of Conrad far more authentically than, say, Apocalypse Now. The 'Triste Tropique' of serious music."

Neil Tesser, DOWNBEAT, August 1979
(From a review of Vernal Equinox and Earthquake Island)
"...Lithe, darkly enchanting pieces that successfully tread the line between minimalist "trance" music and the less subtle excitations of third world improvisation...a careful and intriguing synthesis."

John Rockwell, NEW YORK TIMES, June 1980
"A better blend of the urgent and the attractive, Fourth World Vol 1: Possible Musics...By "fourth world"Mr. Hassell means something beyond the borrowings from the third world that so many Western composers have attempted recently. and on this disk he makes a persuasive case that such a fusion is possible."

Richard Williams, LONDON TIMES, June 1980
"(Possible Musics)...Its practitioners seemingly possessed by a nameless rapture, this pan-cultural music swirls and rises like smoke."

Karen Monson, CHICAGO DAILY NEWS, January 1977
"The Museum of Contemporary Art went into a Solid State Sunday with Jon Hassell's sculptures in air. You couldn't see the sculptures, but you could feel them down deep inside of you. As the only musical offering in the museum's six-day extravaganza of performance art, the composition named Solid State erects a huge, thick wall of sound that vibrates up through the floor into the listener's begin to wonder whether the changes are real or imagined, whether the new pulsations or new frequencies are coming from inside the machines or from inside your head. The effect is almost the time the wall crumbled and the concert ended with the sound of a train passing through the South end of the gallery, dogs barking, birds chirping and, finally, just the sound of one's own ringing ears, Solid State and its audience gave into motionless silence."

Tom Johnson, VILLAGE VOICE, May 1974
"Solid State...alludes to sculpture...sounds change quite slowly and one has the sense that a massive almost tangible piece of sound sculpture is hanging in the air...As I moved to different places in the room...Balances shifted. Now elements became audible. New associations became clear, just as they do when one walks around a Henry Moore...there can be little question as to the freshness of his approach or the musical competence of his work."

Paul Hume, THE WASHINGTON POST, June 1970
"...A vast, electronic sound emerged like a great cloud moving to the center of the room, there to hang in an invisible cluster...As you listened, a pulse deep inside the music began to appear. And its texture...began to undergo subtle the cloud in the east...continued its inexorably slow movement to the north, the music insisted on its interior changes...Growing in power, its impact began to exert an almost hypnotic effect...Suddenly it stopped. After 50 minutes of sound, there was silence. We had had an experience of music, new, at first strange, but eventually somehow penetrating and affecting."