California in the late fifties and early sixties was where it was happening. Paul Horn arrived in Los Angeles in the fall of 1956 to be a part of the famed Chico Hamilton Quintet. Hollywood was about to become not only the center of the movie industry but television as well. Paul freelanced in the Hollywood studios, was on staff with the NBC orchestra and started the first of his two successful jazz units, The Paul Horn Four and The Paul Horn Quintet. He also began a longstanding association and friendship with Tony Bennett, appearing on television specials and on concert tours as his featured guest.
It was also during this era that Paul spent a significant amount of time with Miles Davis. Davis was exploring a type of jazz that was very different than the be-bop and cool jazz of the day. The scales that Davis was experimenting with were more open-ended and gave the musician more of a sense of freedom-”modal jazz” was to have a profound effect on Paul’s playing in the years to come.
During that period in L.A, Paul was the subject of David Wolper’s documentary, The Story of a Jazz Musician. He also acted in two films, The Sweet Smell of Success and The Rat Race, making another Tony, Tony Curtis, a life long friend. Paul also played with the legendary Frank Sinatra, both live and in the studio. In addition, in 1964, Horn recorded the first Jazz Mass, utilizing an orchestra and chorus along with Paul’s quintet, composed and arranged by Lalo Schifrin. The album received two Grammy Awards.
But in spite of the acknowledgements he was receiving, Paul felt a hunger for a deeper meaning to his life. His material success by itself was proving to be unfulfilling. As his first marriage began to unravel, Paul packed his bags and headed to India in December 1966, to be with The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Eventually, a magic evening of his inspired flute playing inside the dome of the famous Taj Mahal, would change music as we know it and usher in an era of contemplative and meditative sounds for the children of the sixties and beyond.
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