The Walker Art Center presents a special Mack Lecture,
Conversation Piece: Brian Eno and Jon Hassell
, on Tuesday, September 22, 7 pm, in the Cinema. Legendary musician/composer/producer Eno and renowned trumpeter/composer Hassell (who performed in the Walker’s McGuire Theater last February with his band Maarifa Street) continue a 30-year free-ranging dialogue—“making the world safe for pleasure/control and surrender/kinds of abstraction sickness/transcendence and intoxication: what sex, art, religion, music, and drugs have in common”—a discourse and collaboration, a lively conversation between two friends, between two brilliant minds.
Born Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno in 1948, Brian Eno is an English musician, composer, record producer, music theorist, singer, visual artist, writer, and a great deal more.
Eno studied at art school, taking inspiration from minimalist painting, but had little musical education or playing experience when he joined the band Roxy Music as its keyboards and synthesizers player in the early 1970s.
Eno’s solo work is extremely influential, pioneering ambient and generative music, innovating production techniques, and emphasizing “theory over practice.” He also introduced the concept of chance music to popular audiences partly through collaborations with other musicians. By the end of the 1970s, Eno had released a number of highly praised solo albums aside from working with David Bowie on the avant-garde Berlin Trilogy, helping popularize the American punk rock band Devo and the punk-influenced “No Wave” genre, and had also begun to work frequently with Harold Budd, John Cale, Cluster, Robert Fripp, and David Byrne, with whom he produced the influential My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981) and most recently 2008’s critically acclaimed Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. He produced three albums by Talking Heads, including Remain in Light, seven albums for U2, including co-production and writing credits on 2009’s No Line On The Horizon, and has worked on records by artists as diverse as James, Laurie Anderson, Coldplay, Paul Simon, and Grace Jones, among many others.
As a visual artist, Eno pursues a broad array of ventures parallel to his musical career stretching from his early video paintings, Thursday Afternoon and Mistaken Memories of Mediaeval Manhattan, art exhibitions in galleries across the globe, and most recently with his generative piece 77 Million Paintings, which debuted in Tokyo’s La Foret Museum in 2006. In May/June 2009, he was invited to curate the inaugural Luminous Festival in Australia, which centered around a commission to light the sails of the Sydney Opera House, one of only a handful of artists given this honor, and culminating in a series of three improvised live performances—Pure Scenius—in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall.
77 Million Paintings has its United States premiere at the University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, California, on September 12, and will run through December 13.
Composer/trumpeter Jon Hassell is the visionary creator of a style of music he describes as Fourth World, a mysterious, unique hybrid of music both ancient and digital, composed and improvised, Eastern and Western. In the last two decades, his connoisseur recordings, built around a completely unique “vocal” trumpet style (developed in studies with Indian vocal master, Pandit Pran Nath) have inspired a generation of collaborators like Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Kronos Quartet, and Ry Cooder. His trumpet performances show up on records of world stars like Björk, Baaba Maal, and Ibrahim Ferrer. Film and theater credits include scores for Wim Wenders (Million Dollar Hotel, with Bono), the Netherlands Dance Theater (Lurch), Peter Sellars (Zangezi), and the theme for the hit TV show The Practice.
His 1999 acoustic audiophile recording, Fascinoma, produced by Ry Cooder, with bansri flute master, Ronu Majumdar and jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson, inspired a new generation of European trumpet players like Arve Henriksen, Erik Truffaz, Paolo Fresu, and Nils Petter Molvaer, who have all acknowledged Hassell’s influence as leading beyond the gravitational pull of Miles Davis.
Montreal, Milan, and Paris concerts became the raw material for magical transformation in the 2005 release Maarifa Street/Magic Realism 2—another difficult-to-define musical fantasy stretched across geography and time, as was its 1983 namesake, Aka-Darbari-Java/Magic Realism.
In 2005, Hassell began touring with a new band, which he named Maarifa Street, playing to new European audiences from Norway to Madrid to Rome to Berlin who were astonished at the discovery of this atmospheric music which defies category: in France, Playboy said “this celestial jazz is amazing,” while his performance at the Vienna Kunsthalle, the cathedral of classical, was called “the concert of the year” in Der Standard.
Early 2009 brought a reconnection to the prestigious ECM label with the release of a new CD, Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street, and a Carnegie Hall concert in New York. Critical raves in the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and European press signal the growing awareness of a master musician and music without borders whose freshness comes increasingly into focus as time passes.
Tickets to Conversation Piece: Brian Eno and Jon Hassell are $15 ($10 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.
Purchase a 2009–2010 performing arts season package and receive a free ticket to this talk. For a complete schedule of events and tickets, call 612.375.7600 or visit walkerart.org/tickets.