Paul Horn, a West Coast saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist who added edgy sophistication and nocturnal cool to chamber jazz ensembles in the 1950s and went on to pioneer World jazz in the '60s and beyond, died on June 29 after a brief illness. He was 84. Horn began recording with the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra in 1956 but soon joined the Chico Hamilton Quintet in 1956 and '57, appearing with the group in the movie Sweet Smell of Success (1957). He also recorded extensively with cellist Fred Katz and was a member of Buddy Collette's Four Swinging Shepherds, a fabulous flute ensemble that featured Collette, Horn, Harry Klee and Bud Shank. House of Horn in 1957 was his first leadership date, for the Dot label.
By 1959, Horn was an established studio musician, appearing on a wide range of sessions, from Paul Weston's mood-music date Floatin' Like a Feather and Skip Martin's Dance to Swingin' Things From Cole Porter's Can Can (both 1959) to Henry Mancini's More Music From Peter Gunn and Pete Rugolo's Music From Richard Diamond (both 1959). There also were several Capitol vocal dates with June Christy and Nancy Wilson as well as Nat King Cole's Let Their Be Love, an album with George Shearing.
By the early 1960s, Horn's movie star looks and schooled approach to the music made him one of the hippest and most dashing reed and woodwind players on the scene. In 1962, he was the subject of an hour-long TV documentary that showcased his playing and thinking about jazz and his determination to avoid being influenced by other jazz artists. By 1964, he was recording albums of World music that included Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts (1964), Paul Horn in India (1967), Special Edition (1974), Paul Horn + Nexus (1975), Jupiter 8 (1983) and Traveler (1984).
Horn's instrumental agility, seductive tone and studio prowess was a result of early mastery on the piano, clarinet and saxophone. After high school he studied clarinet and flute at Ohio's Oberlin Conservatory of Music and earned a masters at New York's Manhattan School of Music.
By 1997, the Jazz Discography stopped listing Horn's albums, as they had become more firmly New Age works. Horn's last album in 2010 was In Love with the Mystery, accompanied by singer-songwriter Ann Mortifee, who also was his wife.
JazzWax tracks: Here are my favorite Paul Horn jazz recordings in small groups...
JazzWax clips: Here's Paul Horn on flute and the rest of the Chico Hamilton group minus guitarist John Pisano, though Chico Hamilton told me that's Pisano's hand the frets so the fingering would be authentic on cambera (go here)...
- Chico Hamilton Quintet: Complete Studio Sessions (1956-57)
- House of Horn (1957)
- Fred Katz: Soul-o Cello (1958)
- Les Cinq Modernes: Continental Jazz (1958)
- Four Swinging Shepherds (1958)
- Shepherds: At the Cinema (1959)
- Something Blue (1960)
- Sound of Paul Horn (1961)
- Here's That Rainy Day—with Ralph Carmichael and choir (1965)
- Monday, Monday—with Oliver Nelson (1966)
Here's Part 1 of Paul Horn: The Story of a Jazz Musician. (For more on this 1962 documentary, see my JazzWax post here.)
Here's Part 2...
And here's Part 3...
Here's Paul Horn on TV's Frankly Jazz playing On Green Dolphin Street...