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Although Fashionlines receives several new CDs for review each month, it isn’t often that we find one that we really like.  Composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell has created a hybrid of ancient and digital music he calls “Fourth World”.  His theme for ABC’s The Practice has been hailed by TV Guide as one of the fifty greatest themes in television history.  Hassell has also collaborated with Ibrahim Ferrer (Cuban superstar of Buena Vista Social Club), Ani DiFranco, k.d. lang, Manhattan Transfer and Björk among others.


After university, Hassell went to Europe to study electronic and serial music with Karlheinz Stockhausen.  Several years later, he returned to the US where his first minimalist recordings with LaMonte Young and Terry Riley were made. The 1983 liner notes for his Aka-Darbari-Java/Magic Realism describe a technology-tradition balance resulting in a “coffee-colored classical music of the future”.  Brian Eno and Peter Gabriel, after working with Hassell, steered the Fourth World idea into the avant-pop sphere, which has now evolved into “electronica”, “new age”, and “world music”.


Notable concert appearances have included The Next Wave at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Serious Fun at Lincoln Center, La Foret Music in Tokyo, the Berlin Jazz Festival, and the Paris Biennale.  His music has been commissioned by the Kronos Quartet and he has collaborated on fashion presentations with Issey Miyake and Rei Kawakubo.  He has composed for several dance companies, notably Merce Cunningham, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the Netherlands Dance Theater. In addition, his music can be heard in Wim Wender’s The Million Dollar Hotel, in collaboration with Bono, Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno.


His new CD, Maarifa Street / Magic Realism 2 is now available.  It is mysterious, exotic and moving and unlike any music we have heard.  Little wonder all the trail blazers want to work with Jon Hassell.



Maarifa Street / Magic Realism 2

Jon Hassell




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