Jon Hassell

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  PRESS EXCERPTS PRE-1986
 


'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."


LITTERAIRES NOUVELLES, Paris, June 1983
"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 innards...you 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 irresistible...by 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 changes...as 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."


 


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