Paul Horn, Jazz Saxophonist-Flutist & ‘Father of New Age Music,’ Dies at 84
Paul Horn, the jazz alto saxophonist-flutist and New Age music innovator, died June 29 at his home in Vancouver, Canada, from an unspecified illness. He was 84.
During his 50-year career, Horn recorded 50 albums and earned multiple Grammy nominations. His album Jazz Suite On The Mass Texts won a Grammy in 1966 for best original jazz composition.
He played sax, flute and clarinet with a classically informed technical sophistication that earned him multiple spots in the studio and on the bandstand with such artists as Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Chico Hamilton.
Horn was a lifelong proponent of transcendental meditation, a practice that greatly influenced his music. In 1968, he traveled to Rishikesh, India, and studied alongside the Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
His meditative albums Inside The Taj Mahal (1968) and Inside The Great Pyramid (1977) helped earn him the nickname “the Father of New Age Music.”
Other albums in Horn’s “Inside” series include recordings in Lithuania’s Kazamieras Cathedral and a session with Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai in Monument Valley, a region of the Colorado Plateau.
Horn was born March 17, 1930, in New York City and grew up in Washington, D.C. He received a bachelor’s degree in flute and clarinet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music.
After working in New York during the early to mid-’50s, Horn moved to Los Angeles and joined the Chico Hamilton Quintet (replacing woodwind player Buddy Collette), which blended classical instrumentation with jazz rhythms. While living in Los Angeles, he worked as a first-call studio musician and eventually became a member of the NBC Staff Orchestra.
With vibraharpist Emil Richards, pianist Paul Moer, bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Larry Bunker, Horn formed a quintet that found a home at Hollywood’s Renaissance Room for an extended period in 1959 and ’60. The group was known for playing modal jazz and embracing scalar, melodic concepts instead of focusing on harmonic progressions.
Horn also acted in the films The Rat Race and Sweet Smell of Success and was the subject of David Wolper’s television documentary The Story of a Jazz Musician.
Throughout the ’60s, Horn resided in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles, where songwriter Carole King and The Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz were among his neighbors.
After a 1969 tour with Scottish folk singer Donovan, Horn brought his family to Vancouver, Canada. He remained there until the 2000s, when he began spending part of his year in Tuscon, Ariz.
He frequently taught at the Victoria Conservatory of Music Summer Jazz Workshop, where he instructed musicians as young as high-school age.
In a Feb. 16, 1961, DownBeat interview, Horn described his views on music education and jazz.
“You know, it’s funny to find there are still people around who think if a musician has schooling, it automatically makes him a lesser jazz player,” Horn said. “But you don’t learn jazz in school. You don’t have to learn it; you have to do it. You have to go out and learn jazz by playing. Jazz is a way of life, and you have to learn about it on the street, so to speak. But the training comes in by giving you the tools to work with.”
To read the full DownBeat article, click here.
Horn is survived by his wife, singer-songwriter Ann Mortifee; two sons; a stepson; and four grandchildren.