Paul Horn is the ultimate world musician, a sound traveler without peer.
Inside the Taj Mahal is acknowledged as being the seminal album that gave Paul Horn the title ... Father of New Age Music. When it came on the scene, it opened a door for music with a more peaceful or spiritual essence. It revolutionized the direction of music for years to come. His two Taj Mahal recordings, made over twenty years apart in the legendary shrine, are his most famous and successful.
Although he had achieved success at an early age, Paul Horn stumbled onto his true musical path in 1967 with the ground-breaking album Inside The Taj Mahal. It was as unlikely a hit album as you’ll ever find. It raised more questions than it answered – and was therefore not a comfortable fit with the record industry that usually likes to view music in neat, easily defined packages. The music was improvised by a top jazz musician, but it wasn’t jazz. It was a solo performance, but then again the space seemed to be an equal partner with the musician. It was recorded in India, in the space that most Westerners immediately associate with India, but the music was clearly not part of the raga tradition any more than it was part of the world of jazz standards. Nothing like it had been recorded before. How did this happen?
“I’ll say it was an accident, but I don’t really believe in accidents.” Horn muses. “Nothing is really unplanned. In 1967, I was in India. I was going through a period where I was really unhappy, despite my success, and I spent time in an ashram with the Maharishi. I went back the following year, when the Beatles were there, to produce a major film on the Maharishi. We were filming the Taj Mahal, which had a great echo, and I wondered what it would be like to play there. So it was completely innocent – I had a sound man with me from the film crew and one night we recorded there, just as a memento for myself to play to friends back home.”
Horn’s recording quickly became more than just an aural souvenir. Horn found that people started asking him to perform solo concerts – requests that made him reconsider his whole approach to performing music. In the Taj Mahal, Horn says, “I played off the echoes. It actually taught me to wait, and the importance of ‘space’ in the music.” Horn points out that Miles Davis had taught him earlier that you don’t have to play all the time; sometimes its better to wait for the right moment. But to play a solo in a sacred space, one where you could practically feel the weight of history and see the results of humanity’s quest for transcendence- well, that brought home the lesson in a new and profound way.
Horn realized that space could be an integral part of the music – a partner or collaborator. This idea has really never left the world’s religious traditions, where certain types of music were inexplicitly tied to temples, churches, or other places of worship; but it was a startling concept for a secular Western musician. The result was a musical journey that now spans more than 4 decades. Over the years, Horn found himself recording solo projects in the Great Pyramids in Egypt, in Cathedrals from New York to Lithuania, in the legendary Chinese Temple of Heaven in Beijing’s Forbidden City, and in the Potala Palace, the boyhood home of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa, Tibet.
For the first time, these landmark works are collected together on a single CD, available here.