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Artist Profiles

Jacques Coursil

By Published: September 11, 2005
Just around 1975, when Coursil would leave New York to begin his career in linguistics, he had a musical moment that would only come to fruition 30 years later with the recording of Minimal Brass. "I was walking on Park Avenue late in '75. I met my good friend Jimmy Owens who is the finest trumpet player ever with a lot of soul. And I said to him 'Would you tell me how to do circular breathing?' And as he was walking towards his home, he picked up straws from the cafeteria and he showed me the trick. And then I think I willed myself into that and started stopping all the clichés that I heard and learned, dropping them off, and in jazz, rhythm and blues, free jazz, there's a lot of that. Then dropping all the clichés I have invented myself, as far I could know. And keep on circular breathing, just one note. And from then until now, it's just been one note. It's an interesting itinerary. Then what's left? Sounds. Those sounds and that one note gave birth to Minimal Brass. The album is just Coursil playing fanfares he wrote for the trumpet. He wrote 12 parts and played them all, creating an acoustic music that reflects the sensibilities of all the sounds that have come subsequently. It is solo by design but also out of necessity. "It would have been too long to explain and I don't know many people who circular breathe and who know how to double tongue, triple tongue and certainly not 8 or 10 or 12 of them.

To say that Coursil is back is inaccurate. He so far doesn't wish to be an active musician with a touring schedule but in other ways, the layoff is just time with no significance. "...Artistic or literary or scientific, this is the same person... for a long long time, I've not really been interested in playing in public. But I never considered myself an amateur musician... I've been a musician from this first day.

Recommended Listening:

· Sunny Murray - Sunny Murray Quintet (ESP, 1966)

· Frank Wright - Your Prayer (ESP, 1967)

· Burton Greene - Aquariana (BYG-Actuel, 1969)

· Jacques Coursil - Black Suite (BYG-Actuel, 1969)

· Jacques Coursil - Way Ahead (BYG-Actuel, 1969)

· Jacques Coursil - Minimal Brass (Tzadik, 2005)

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