Paul Horn, Father of New Age, Dead at 84

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Paul Horn performs at the David Lynch Foundation 'Change Begins Within' show at Radio City Music Hall on April 4, 2009 in New York City.

Multi-instrumentalist Paul Horn may not have been cool in all quarters, but he knew how to make "cool out" music.

Primarily known as a flautist, Horn was considered the father of New Age music, starting with his 1968 album "Inside" that was recorded in India's Taj Mahal and continuing over several similar project.

The six-time Grammy nominee passed away on June 29 at his home in Vancouver at the age of 84 following "a brief illness," according to a message posted on his official web site. His family was aid to be planing "a private memorial-celebration of life," while the site is filled with messages from fans about the impact his music made on them.

The New York-born Horn morphed from a career in mainstream jazz into New Age and World Music. A musician since he began on piano at the age of four, he studied clarinet and saxophone at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and earned a master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music before relocating to Los Angeles and joining Chico Hamilton's quintet in 1956. Horn subsequently played sessions for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Miles Davies, Lalo Schifrin and others.

Horn composed and played the score music for the 1969 TV series "Clutch Cargo" and released his first solo album, "Something Blue," the following year. He also played in the NBC Staff Orchestra and even did some acting in films such as "The Rat Race" and "Sweet Smell of Success." Horn was the subject of the television documentary "The Story of a Jazz Musician," and his 1966 album "Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts," won a Grammy for Best Original Jazz Composition.

His studies in Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during the late 60s in India, alongside the Beatles, led to a gradual shift in Horn's musical direction, which he captured during a 1968 visit with his flute to the Taj Mahal that led to the album "Inside" (aka "Inside the Taj Mahal"). While receiving mixed reviews -- and particularly drawing the ire of traditional jazz critics and fans -- it led to a series of "Inside" recordings, including Egypt's Great Pyramid, the Kazamieras Cathedral in Vilnius, Lithuania, the Potala Palace in Lhasa and Monument Valley, the latter with Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai. He also recorded at sites in China, Brazil, Africa and Tibet.

"New Age music does something wonderful to the nervous system," Horn told the Los Angeles Times in 1987. "It settles you down into a deep state of relaxation. When people want to 'cool out,' a (New Age) record will do it real quick. It's meditative music."

Horn is survived by his wife, singer Ann Mortifee, sons Marlen and Robin, stepson Devon Mortifee, three daughters-in-law and four grandchildren. The web site message noted that, "The family has been overwhelmed by the outporing of love and support from people around the world who admired Horn as a musician and respected him as a man of great integrity and deep philosophical principles."


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