Paul Horn, New Age Music Pioneer, Dies at 84
From jazz roots he helped carve a new genre
Paul Horn, who is often called the “Father of New Age music,” died June 29 in Vancouver, British Columbia, after a brief illness. He was 84.
Primarily a flutist, Horn also played clarinet and saxophone. He recorded more than 50 albums during his career, beginning in the mid-1950s. His early works, which featured Horn on alto saxophone and flute, fell squarely into the bop and cool schools of jazz; Horn worked with such leaders as Cal Tjader and Chico Hamilton at the time. But in 1967, when he began studying Transcendental Meditation, Horn’s style shifted to a more serene, spiritual one that often eschewed jazz qualities in favor of music that set peaceful, meditative moods. He is considered one of the seminal figures in what became the New Age music movement.
Many of Horn’s albums were recorded live inside of historical landmarks, including the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramid, Lithuania’s Kazamierasand Cathedral and at sites in Brazil, Africa and Tibet, as well as the American Southwest. He recorded in China and the Soviet Union in the ’70s and cut two albums of flute duets in Monument Valley with Native American musician R. Carlos Nakai. He also incorporated the sounds of orcas into some of his music.
As a sideman and collaborator, Horn worked with Duke Ellington, Nat "King" Cole, Miles Davis, Mel Tormé, Lalo Schifrin, Frank Sinatra, Ravi Shankar, Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Jim Hall, Stan Getz, Mongo Santamaria, June Christy, Buddy Rich, Dean Martin, Doris Day, Bobby Darin, the Beach Boys and others.
Born March 17, 1930, in New York City, Horn studied at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. His early career was spent on the West Coast and he relocated to Vancouver in the early ’70s, where he lived the rest of his life. Horn received six Grammy nominations during his career.