Paul Horn found serenity in Victoria and added to it with his gentle spirit and incredible talent. The jazz great and pioneer of New Age music could have lived anywhere, but he chose Vancouver Island, “a little spot of paradise on this planet,” as he put it.
The New York-born Horn, a saxophonist and flutist, died Sunday at the age of 84 after a career that spanned more than 60 years and in which he performed with the likes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Quincy Jones, Buddy Rich and even the Beach Boys.
In the mid-1960s, he studied transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, where he became friends with his fellow students, the Beatles. His experiences there changed the direction of his life and his music. In 1968, he recorded unaccompanied flute music in the Taj Mahal.
Inside the Taj Mahal is regarded as one of the most influential albums in establishing what’s now known as New Age music. He went on to record in other important spiritual places, including the Great Pyramid, cathedrals and the canyons of the American Southwest.
He moved with his family to Victoria in 1970, and although he continued to travel and perform widely, this region remained his home.
Horn pushed musical boundaries — he identified with orcas and incorporated their songs into some of his music — and in doing so, left a legacy of harmony that encompasses more than music.