21 March 2009

Paul Horn with George Harrison in 1968 in India

Victoria flautist gets back with Beatle buddies

Paul Horn with George Harrison in 1968 in India.

Paul Horn with George Harrison in 1968 in India.

Photograph by: Paul Horn's private collection, Times Colonist

Victoria jazz flautist Paul Horn just turned 79, but that's not stopping him from appearing with Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Donovan and Sheryl Crow at a benefit concert at New York's Radio City Music Hall on April 4.

"They should have held it in Madison Square Garden," he joked, noting the event was sold out in seconds, with tickets priced from $99 to $500 US. Internet scalpers are reselling them for up to $4,250.

"It's very exciting getting together again -- man it's been 40 years," said Horn, who first met the Beatles and Donovan at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in 1968. He was making a film about the holy man, and they all studied transcendental meditation together.

"During about six weeks I got to know Paul and George best, Ringo only stayed about two weeks. John was more of a loner, although interested in learning to play the flute. George was studying the sitar and we'd go to a little hut sometimes and jam. Donovan was there the whole time -- the quintessential flower child, a very sweet, gentle soul." He and Donovan later toured the U.S. together twice.

The concert will raise funds for the David Lynch Foundation, which wants to teach a million children to meditate, said publicist Steve Yellin from Iowa.

"We've already taught more than 70,000 around the world and hundreds of schools in the U.S. have now applied."

Horn applauds Lynch for bringing transcendental meditation into schools, to help reduce stress and bullying, and increase creativity and health. "It's an ambitious project, but it's all about timing. It has taken time for the West to finally connect with Maharishi's message, and realize TM is not a religion."

All the musicians are donating their time, said Horn, who has recorded more than 40 albums, won Grammys and worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington to Nat King Cole. Other performers at the event are Ben Harper, Moby, Bettye Lavette and Jim James.

How will Horn fit in with the youngbloods?

"I'll be there to give a break from the energy," he said with a chuckle, adding he'll play a piece with Donovan, then an improvisational solo with digital delay -- echo effect -- that he guarantees "will quiet the crowd."

He perfected the technique in 1968 in the Taj Mahal -- a flawless echo chamber -- that resulted in his famous album Inside.

Horn, who will travel to New York with his wife Ann Mortifee, has never played in Radio City Music Hall, although he has performed in New York many times -- twice at Carnegie Hall.

"I'm doing this because I value TM. It has immeasurably affected everything in my life and is a reflection of who I am, my music."

glitwin@tc.canwest.com

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