Paul Horn is a great artist. Musician, teacher, traveler, father and… he is just human like all of us. He burns, he cools, he’s young, he’s old. But, from the start, he found his voice. He uses his instrument to open a window for us to see through his eyes and hear with his heart.
I’ve known Paul for most of my adult life and I always see the same person, hear the same voice whether he’s talking to a thousand people or one. I see pictures from his career in his twenties, in his fifties and now in whatever timeless age he is. I see the same man. I hear the same compassion, patience and peacefulness.
Above all, we talk about presence, just being there, just showing up. When you are open to an experience, when you are truly present in the moment, an amazing world unveils itself. Everything just appears, nothing is preconceived by yourself, you are constantly standing at the beginning.
You know, music is like that sometimes. Nobody knows what the next note will be, why the next note happens or when. I’m not talking about jazz or improvisation or the most strict classical arrangement. I’m talking about the moment itself as it happens, all that it might be, music as a metaphor for life.
Paul said in a film once, resting for a moment in the highlands of Tibet: “You hear that stillness…? I mean, it’s silence… but it’s filled with potential.”
What is peace, if it’s not stillness, silence, awareness and possibility. It takes respect for something outside of yourself to recognize it.
Respect… I can’t imagine a more important word for how I want to describe Paul to you. He respects the world he lives in and he respects you, the person he knows well or has never met. He respects your soul, whether you think you have one or not… your faith, whether you have it or not. I’ve heard him talk about God but I really don’t know whose God he means. I guess that means that he doesn’t claim God as his own or tell you what you should believe. In fact, I don’t remember him preaching much of anything to me.
Like the best kind of teacher, he lives his beliefs and shares everything and yet nothing that you don’t realize for yourself. One time, on a trip to Nepal, we had a fellow traveler that probably saw himself as some sort of guide. He pointed everywhere and described and translated and “opened our eyes” to everything around us. Well, this is not what happens in a life around Paul.
But, in fact, Paul is a guide to so many people. You do look everywhere. You describe, you translate, you open your eyes. You hear everything and Paul has done nothing but open the door.
So, this is what I feel in our musical life together.
Honesty. Paul plays what he feels. He has a singular expression that is never distracted or compromised by the era or genre that is attributed to him.
History? Yes, but only a history of moments like this one now. His will stand for centuries in my opinion. He is a legend and is treated like one, but being called “legend” is the only thing that I’ve ever seen that causes him to roll his eyes.
Peace. Surely, always. Paul is at peace with his mind, even when he’s witness to a world of war and suffering.
Respect. I keep coming back to respect. It means selflessness, compassion and openness.
I’m just one of many musicians to create with Paul, I think you can tell that I feel honored to be among them.
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