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Jon Hassell


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"Psychogeography" - The new CD
This is the leading-edge of the boxed set of 3 CDs celebrating CITY-Works of Fiction, Jon Hassell's 1990 album, including the legendary Wintergarden Concert at the World Trade Center, New York, with Brian Eno mixing live. On the All Saints imprint, this signals a new distribution relationship with the cutting-edge UK label, Warp. Release June 2, 2014.
- "Psychogeography" has been spun from buried moments of brilliant rehearsal and studio takes interleaved with contemporary remixes by four vanguard contemporary UK producers -
It's no accident that an artist whose history has shown a gift for joining disparate elements - of geography, of styles, of genres - happens to be associated with a new model for interwining old and new. It's also no surprise that this happens to be curated by the first musician to elevate the possibilities of sampling and looping into the various forms of musical collage that have sprouted up in the digital age.
"It's difficult to think what contemporary music would sound like without his influence..." The Wire
"Psychogeography" - the Concept
Guy Debord, leader of the Situationist movement proposed the idea of "psychogeography" - where "zones of feeling" were the touchstone for mapping instead of conventional geographic features. The titles were attempts to evoke this idea both sonically and psychologically.
"Psychogeography" - the Concert
A lot has happened in the five years since the release of Hassell's acclaimed ECM record, Last Night the Moon... From young DJs like Heurco S to the celebrated Berlin electronica genius Moritz von Oswald and the legendary Detroit dancefloor experimentalist Carl Craig - all cite Jon Hassell as being important influences. And, in fact, "Berlin" is the temporary name for a collaborative recording project with Moritz and Carl in the works for 2014. Expected: an exciting new sound hybrid arising from the creative collision of a solid infrastructure of electronica laced with Hassell's harmonic sophistication. Elements from the music that Jon developed for a "Tribute to Gil Evans" concert in Italy in 2012 and a new unreleased recording, Summerthrill, will undoubtedly find their way into the concerts and the recordings.
Why now? - The ascent of club culture and its sound immersion has created a generation of young people who - growing up in a state of enhanced awareness aided by psychotropics - have been aurally-educated to listen to music in new ways. In the amplified club experience, a kind of "vertical listening" occurs where the question, "what's happening now," comes into focus along with the traditional horizontal listening experience of "what happens next." This opens a new dimension to the poetics of music. This generation of "audiophiliacs" is now more open to rediscovering the source music for much of what is in the air now.
Psychogeography" - the Group
Jon Hassell - trumpet, keyboard, sampler
Rick Cox - guitar, electronics, sampler
John Von Seggern - bass, electronics, sampler
Arnaud Mercier - sound design; technical
Each musician is not only an accomplished instrumental performer but also skilled in improvising a texture out of samples - a kind of "instant orchestration." All of the recordings mentioned above come with a large library of used or unused material to be fashioned into something new. In fact, this reflects the techniques of movie scoring that most of this group is involved with in Los Angeles.

THE WILD CARD: As a special feature this year, the 2014 group will start with the core group of the three musicians, but also offered to imaginative curators will be a "floating position" reserved for any of the unique musicians who have played with Jon in concerts and recordings of any period:Kheir-Eddine M'Kachiche - the stunning Algerian violinist of Last Night the Moon; BLKLN (Black Lion) the innovative hip-hop producer on Dressing for Pleasure; Abdou Mboup - the Senagalese drummer of Aka-Darbari-Java, Eivind Aarset - the brilliant Norwegian guitarist - also from Moon; Ralph Cumbers (aka Bass Clef) the UK DJ/Producer who contributes brilliant reworks on Psychogeography from the upcoming re-release of CITY-Works of Fiction, John Beasley, former Miles Davis keyboardist on Maarifa Street, Nana Vascon軻los - the legendary percussionist of Possible Musics...And others

   Website Updating


This site is currently being revised to include some new features and bring some old ones up to date. In the meantime, Jon's Biography and Concert activities have been updated on this edition of the site. News of forthcoming events will also be added at regular intervals, as well as updated articles and reviews. And of course the obligatory forays into the world of social networking via Facebook, Twitter, etc, will be included too.

Best regards for 2012,
Team Hassell

   last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street


last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street

Buy at Amazon

Jon Hassell: trumpet, keyboard; Peter Freeman: bass, laptop; Jan Bang: live sampling; Jamie Muhoberac: keyboard, laptop; Rick Cox: guitar, loops; Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche: violin; Eivind Aarset: guitar; Helge Norbakken: drums; Pete Lockett: drums; Dino J.A. Deane: live sampling.

ECM 2077 6025 179 2636 (3)

Release: 3 February 2009 (USA) / 6 March (EU)

25 YEARS AFTER his last ECM recording, the highly-influential Power Spot (recorded in 1983/84), Jon Hassell returns to the label with a new album—issued to coincide with the trumpeter’s first US tour in two decades.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street takes its title from a line from a 13th century poem by Jalaluddin Rumi:

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.
I took it as a sign to start singing.
Falling up into the bowl of sky.

The striking, almost surreally-vivid image (in Coleman Barks’ contemporary translation) seems to speak to Hasssell’s aural re-imaginings. His own ‘singing’ opens up new angles of vision, as his very vocal trumpet lines are reframed in works that contrast, combine, or melt together aspects of ancient and hypermodern idioms in a musical meta-language which can embrace sounds from all the compass points, sounds of the city, sounds of the natural world. In the past Hassell’s termed his personal genre Fourth World: by any name inspirational, its implications have registered with pop and rap and jazz artists as well as classical chamber musicians and filmmakers... And purely as an instrumentalist, Hassell’s influence has been widely felt, too. Nils Petter Molvaer , Arve Henriksen and Paolo Fresu are but three ECM-associated trumpeters who acknowledge a debt to the liquid tone and weightless, floating quality of Jon Hassell’s trumpet improvisations, and to his pioneering use of electronics in tandem with his horn.

Hassell describes the music of Last night the moon as “a continuous piece, almost symphonic, with a cinematic construction” and drifting “clouds made out of many motifs”. Core material is drawn from a session at Studios La Buisonne near Avignon in April 2008, with detail added in Los Angeles in November and December. Live recordings from Courtrais, Belgium and London, as well as a remix of a piece originally created for a Wim Wenders movie, are also integrated into the atmospheric, filmic flow, along with short samples snared throughout 2008.

Jon Hassell: “The word ‘montage’ pops out of my memory bank...Not only does it describe the little montages that serve as transitions between longer pieces (themselves montages of motifs that keep reappearing in new contexts) but the music presented here is a montage of the last years of concerts and the changing cast of the group I call Maarifa Street—all musicians who have contributed their personalities—the way an actor does to a film—to this living, morphing process that occasionally gets set down as a ‘record’.”

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, with whom he will perform on his February 2009 tour. Dates are:

February 5: Columbus, OH (Wexner Center)
February 6: Knoxville, TN (Bijou Theater)
February 8: Philadelphia, PA (World Cafe Live)
February 10: New York, NY (Zankel Hall)
February 12: Minneapolis, MN (Walker Arts Center)
February 13: Los Angeles, CA (Royce Hall)
February 14: Vancouver Jazz Festival (Chan Center for Performing Arts)

In April 2009, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno deliver their “Conversation Piece” at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. This “conversational remix”, an animated juxtaposing of philosophies of life, art and music, was premiered to acclaim at Norway’s Punkt Festival in 2008.

   fall 2008—early 2009: seminar, concerts & new album for ECM


4-6 Kristiansand, Norway / Punkt Festival
CONCERT: Maarifa Street
INSTALLATION: "Near Far"—Church Bells Harmonized
SEMINAR: Brian Eno and Jon Hassell: A Conversational Remix


29 Oslo
30 Torino
31 Bologna


5 Brescia
6 Prague
7 Warsaw

20-22 London Jazz Festival Presents: "Punkt Festival UK" / Kings Place / Concert: Maarifa Street




5 Columbus, OH (Wexner Center)
6 Knoxville, TN (Bijou Theater)
10 New York, NY (Zankel Hall)
12 Minneapolis, MN (Walker Arts Center)
13 Los Angeles, CA (UCLA LIVE - Royce Hall)
14 Vancouver Jazz Festival (Chan Center for Performing Arts)


   spring 2008: jon hassell & the voice project


  100 strong open access choir performs the world premiere In Tsegihi. Norwich Cathedral, 17 May, 2008, 8pm, £19–£5. Part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, 2008.


  Jon discusses the work in issue #291 of The Wire.


  Anglia TV (UK) profiles the choir.