Jon Hassell is touring North America for the first time in 20 years. "Well, I wasn't asked," he says.
Jenafer Gillingham/ECM Records
Trumpeter and composer Jon Hassell used to joke: "I do country music; it's just a matter of what country."
Or maybe it's a matter of what planet. Decades ago, Hassell coined the term "fourth world music" to describe his sound — one that evokes both the primitive and the futuristic. He continues to explore new sonic landscapes on his latest album, Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street. The title came from the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi.
"Rumi is sort of the beginning of the idea of Sufism ... and kind of a hippie, right?" Hassell says. "I mean, he was a — you didn't know if he was praising God or talking about a hot-looking girl passing by. So the title itself, Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street, has a combination of cosmic and a bit sexy."
Hassell is on his first North American tour in more than two decades. He spoke with Liane Hansen from WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Though first inspired by more mainstream jazz, Hassell has worked with electronic music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen and studied with Indian classical singer Pandit Pran Nath. It helps explain his fascination with atmospheric electronics — and, he says, his soft, puffy style on the trumpet.
"I certainly started to play trumpet in a different way, drawing lines in space, musical lines, kind of Arabesque musical calligraphy," Hassell says. "A certain kind of curve where you touch one line but don't touch another, and touch this one lightly and touch that one more. Very beautiful and subtle."
Hear the full interview with Jon Hassell by clicking on the link at the top of the page, starting around noon ET on Sunday, Feb. 8.