Vale – Jon Hassell

On 26 th June this year one of the world’s greatest trumpet players, Jon Hassell, died at the age of 84. In obituaries he is noted for his collaborations with Talking Heads, Brian Eno and Ry Cooder, but for me his greatest albums are the ones he headlines. Last Night the Moon Came Dropping its Clothes in the Street, Fascinoma and Hollow Bamboo are quite remarkable. His versions of Nature Boy and Caravan on Fascinoma are unique.

In his youth he studied with Karlheinz Stockhaisen and first appeared on the recorded version of Terry Riley’s minimalist work In C in 1968.

In the 1970s he went to India to study with Pandit Pran Nath and became immersed in playing ragas on the trumpet. This led to the development of his unique style, described by Richard Williams in The Guardian as, ‘A gauzy sound and a frictionless attack…as a result his trumpet sounded as if it were played by a Berber on a distant sand dune, or from a minaret in a mysteriously deserted city.’

This style is perfectly demonstrated on Siwan, his collaboration with the musicians Jon Balke, Bjarte Elke, Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche and the Moroccan singer Amina Aloui, and also on Hollow Bamboo with the brilliant Indian flute player Ronu Majumdar.

So much wonderful music to explore.

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