JON HASSELL, SONIC EXPLORER
PRESS STATEMENT from Jon Hassell’s Family
JULY 26, 2021
Our beloved Jon M. Hassell – iconic trumpet player, author, and composer – has passed away at the age of 84 years on June 26th 2021. After a little more than a year of fighting through health complications, Jon died peacefully in the early morning hours of natural causes. His final days were surrounded by family and loved ones who celebrated with him the lifetime of contributions he gave to this world– personally and professionally. He cherished life and leaving this world was a struggle as there was much more he wished to share in music, philosophy, and writing.
It was his great joy to be able to compose and produce music until the end. We thank all those who contributed to ensuring that he was able to continue expressing his ideas through his final days and maintain a quality end of life.
Jon Hassell was able to leave behind many gifts. We are excited and committed to sharing those ongoing with his fans across time and support his enduring legacy. All donations to Jon Hassell’s GoFundMe will allow the tremendous personal archive of his music, much unreleased, to be preserved and shared with the world for years to come. We also hope to provide philanthropic gifts of scholarship and contributions to issues close to Jon’s heart, like supporting the working rights of musicians.
As Jon is now free of a constricting body, he is liberated to be in his musical soul and will continue to play in the Fourth World. We hope you find solace in his words and dreams for this earthly place he now leaves behind. We hold him, and you, in this loss and grief.
FOURTH WORLD IS
A KIND OF PHILOSOPHICAL GUIDELINE, A CREATIVE POSTURE, DIRECTED TOWARDS THE CONDITIONS CREATED BY THE INTERSECTION OF TECHNOLOGY WITH INDIGINOUS MUSIC AND CULTURE.
THE UNDERLYING GOAL IS TO PROVIDE A KIND OF CREATIVE MIDWIFERY TO THE INEVITABLE MERGING OF CULTURES WHILE PROVIDING AN ANTIDOTE TO A GLOBAL “MONOCULTURE” CREATED BY MEDIA COLONIZATION.
THE UNDERLYING PREMISE IS THAT EACH INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ MUSIC AND CULTURE – THE RESULT OF THEIR UNIQUE RESPONSE TO THEIR UNIQUE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT – FUNCTIONS IN THE SAME WAY AS, AS AN “ELEMENT” IN THE PERIODIC TABLE OF CHEMISTRY: AS PURE BUILDING BLOCKS FROM WHICH ALL OTHER “CULTURAL COMPOUNDS” WILL ARISE.
IN OTHER WORDS, THESE CULTURES ARE OUR “VOCABULARY” IN TRYING TO THINK ABOUT WAYS TO RESPOND TO OUR PLACE IN THE NEW GEOGRAPHY CREATED BY OUR MEDIA WORLD, AND MUST BE RESPECTED RELATIVE TO THEIR IMPORTANCE TO OUR SURVIVAL.
Farewell to a restless and extraordinarily innovative artist whose music was often unclassifiable. Absorbing (but not appropriating) music for different cultures, Hassell looked to blend and colour, never dominate. While grounded in world music, he always seemed to be reaching towards the transcendent, infusing his compositions with a visionary component that was unique and uplifting. It could also be uncomfortable, as he twisted tonalities and textures into shapes on the edges of the sphere of ‘the known’. Jon Hassell’s trumpet was usually so processed and treated that one could be forgiven for not recognising the instrument of Miles and Louis. But that’s because Hassell rarely looked backwards.
Although Hassell worked with many artists—including being a player on Terry Reilly’s first recording of “In C” and guesting on kd lang albums—his collaboration with Eno is perhaps the LP that will be most played as we salute Hassell’s contribution to jazz-electronica-minimalism-ethnomusicology.
A true adventurer.
Jon Hassell / Brian Eno “Fourth World Vol.1 – Possible Musics” [EG Records 1980]
Jon Hassell “Fourth World Vol.2 – Dream Theory In Malaysia” [EG Records 1981]
Jon Hassell “The Surgeon Of The Nightsky Restores Dead Things By The Power Of Sound” [Intuition 1987]
Jon Hassell “Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street” [ECM 2009]
Jon Hassell “City: Works Of Fiction” [All Saints 1990]