Avantgarde sounds from the fourth world

Review: Jon Hassel - Vernal Equinox
Ndeya Records


Musically, spring 2020 was heralded by the remastering of an unforgettable album - Vernal Equinox by Jon Hassell. Fourth World Music, a mix of fusion jazz, various ethnic influences and ambient, was developed by the US trumpeter in the early 1970s and first presented to the public on his solo debut Vernal Equinox in 1977. The musician gradually found his unmistakable style.


Sound visions take shape


In the mid-1960s Jon Hassell studied in Cologne with the minimal music composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who became one of his most important mentors. Back in New York he participated in Terry Riley’s first recording of In C and became part of the Theatre of Eternal Music, later known as The Dream Syndicate, which was founded by La Monte Young and specialized in experimental minimal music.


Hassell learned Indian singing with Pandit Pran Nath in the early 70s and adapted some of the techniques he learned on his musical instrument. Hassell’s vocalized trumpet playing inspired countless artists such as Terry Riley, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Moritz von Oswald, younger jazz musicians such as Nils Petter Molvaer and also filmmaker Wim Wenders, who hired Hassell for the soundtrack to The Million Dollar Hotel.


In the fairytale from 1001 Nights


In fact, the tracks on the experimental album sound like sound structures from a Far Eastern dream. Simple, recurring rhythms and synthesizer sounds give the tracks their minimalist character. In Toucan Ocean, Viva Shona or Caracas Night September 11, the sound of the sea, birdsong and the chirping of crickets in the background recall enchanted island worlds and tropical rainforests. Jon Hassell’s trumpet sounds like the song from an oriental fairy tale.


What luck to (re)discover this pearl - dive down and enjoy.


  • Artist: Jon Hassell
  • EP: Vernal Equinox Remastering
  • Release: March 21, 2020


Yolanda Gil / Do, 30. Apr 2020