Aug 122021

I just learned that trumpeter Jon Hassell died in late June. I had no idea. I guess the news of the passing of the likes of Hassell, an avant-garde trumpeter who’s playing did make it to Talking Heads’ Remain in Light album, gets pushed down on the list of concerns in a world more concerned with…whatever.

I stumbled on Hassell’s 2 albums on EG in the early 1980s, at the Temple University bookstore. I met our old friend General Slocum at Temple, and the two of us used to visit that bookstore every few days to rifle through the bins of cutout albums. For some reason, they had cutouts of the EG catalog, so we bought up everything we could find: Eno, Fripp, Penguin Cafe Orchestra…and Hassell. These albums were typically imports that only hipster rich kids could afford. We were getting them for $1.98 a pop!

Dream Theory in Malaya particularly caught my ear. There was something about that album that went so well with my mix of being emotionally distraught, ridiculously ambitious, and high 24/7. I don’t know what he’s actually up to musically, but it’s as if time is pulling against itself. The first track on this album, “Chor Moire,” really knew how to kick my buzz into hyperspace.

All these years, I never learned a thing about Hassell the man. I’m pretty sure he was British. I knew he was already old by the time I got into him – and by “old” I mean about 20 years younger than I am now. I kept up with many of his post-EG albums, but those 2 I bought at the Temple bookstore, with the Eno/EG stamp of approval, continue to be my favorites.

If you don’t think you’ve ever heard a lick of Hassell’s music, perhaps you have, on Talking Heads’ “Houses in Motion.” I love his sound!


  4 Responses to “Jon Hassell Has Left the Building”

  1. I vaguely remember hearing that he passed away, but it got away from me.

    I like that Hassell stuff too, although I much prefer the first album Possible Worlds (the pink one) to the “Dream Theory in Malaya” (the blue one). Possible Worlds is slower, thicker and more low end. The chattery Chor Moire is not what I normally would want to hear from Hassell. He was perfectly utilized on that Talking Heads number.

    By the way, my EG Editions copy of Dream Theory clearly displays pressed at South Plainfield New Jersey, so I don’t think these were exactly exclusive to us rich kids.

  2. Another thing that I noticed while reading an Eno biography a couple weeks back, Hassell was discussed and when I checked Spotify, he had about ten albums listed, but neither of those. Weird.

  3. I know, it annoys me that those two aren’t on Spotify.

    I guess they weren’t imports!

    I like the pink one, too, but the blue one had more of a “variations on a theme” feel that appeals to me, more of that weird conflicting time stuff.

  4. Happiness Stan

    About a universe apart, but I just saw that Nanci Griffith has died. I discovered her music just after I went through the acrimonious break up from hell and worked out a lot of grief with cassettes of her albums I borrowed from the library and continued my attempt to kill music with my home taping.

    One that I bought was Last of the True Believers, which doesn’t put a step wrong anywhere. I saw her play twice, in London when I was just about getting out into the world again, and Glastonbury in 97. I remember the year as I slipped on the mud during the first evening and nearly took my eye out on a thorn bush. I was in pain the whole weekend, but for that one glorious hour on Sunday afternoon the rain stopped and the painkillers worked.

    Only 68, what a bummer.

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