Published Mar 24, 2020While the trumpet is often synonymous with some of the greatest jazz of all time, Jon Hassell's trumpet has forged a different path, toward a new kind of minimal contemporary music now commonly known as ambient.
Originally released in 1977, now getting a digital retrofit and remaster, Hassell's brilliant debut, Vernal Equinox, still sounds fresh and modern. The album paved the way for him to break all the rules when it comes to featuring the instrument. On Vernal Equinox, the trumpet is front and centre, but never clean or clear of processing and effects. Hassell's trumpet exists in ambient caves, layers of Earth or muted improvisations.
Supporting the lead instrument is a collection of thumb pianos, percussion pieces or beautiful drones, as is the case with "Blues Nile." It is hard to imagine how listeners in 1977 felt about the minimalist compositions, but the album fits perfectly with modern contemporary music. The remastering work is also excellent, allowing for perfectly clean silence between every percussive hit or trumpet breath.
Vernal Equinox is the album that transformed the trumpet from a centerpiece in jazz to the lead in new kind of music revolution. The remastered version has brought it back to life to be enjoyed by a new generation of contemporary music lovers. And if they, by chance, neglect to check the original release date, listeners might never make the connection that Hassell has more in common with the punk bands of his era than any of the jazz greats. (Independent)