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!