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Jacques Coursil

Jacques Coursil was born in Paris in 1938, his parents were from Fort de France, Martinique, and he received his musical and other schooling in the French capital. Between 1958 and 1961 he travelled in West Africa during its decolonization, and enjoyed a long stay in Dakar where he was given a welcome by the entourage of Léopold Sédar Senghor. On his return to France he taught literature and continued his musical training.

In 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated; Coursil went to The United States, where he would remain for ten years. He landed in New York among all the agitation surrounding Civil Rights and the advent of free jazz (new thing), art happenings, protests and Hippies… For the next decade he had the opportunity to work alongside the greatest musicians in America, both on the jazz scene and in contemporary music. He became a pupil of pianist Jaki Byard, and especially trumpeter Bill Dixon, with whom he went on tour playing duets. Coursil also studied harmony and composition under composer Noel Da Costa and performed in numerous contemporary-music concerts with the latter. By this time he possessed a solid instrumental technique, and he let his imagination run wild, becoming one of the best trumpeters of his generation.

He often played with Alan Silva, Sunny Murray, Marion Brown, Frank Wright and Arthur Jones, and in 1969 he recorded tracks with them that have gone down as classics in the genre, notably 'Black Suite' and 'Way Ahead'. It is widely recognized today that musicians who were active during that "glorious Sixties" period were part of the greatest creative upsurge in jazz music since the bop revolution.

His years in New York were dominated by music and literature, the arts and militant politics, and yet Jacques Coursil discovered other things which to his mind were just as fascinating: notably linguistics and mathematical logic. Slowly he moved away from the music scene and began teaching again. He also returned to university, and on his return to France he decided on an academic career, writing two theses in the fields of Literature (1977) and Science (1992). He alternately taught letters and linguistic theory, first in France, then later in Martinique before finally teaching in The United States at Cornell University and the University of California in Irvine. His career-path made him a voice to be listened to on the corpus of Ferdinand de Saussure and also in the general theories of modern linguistics, as shown by the reputation of his own publications, among them his book La Fonction Muette du Langage, published in France by Ibis Rouge in the year 2000.

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Album Review

Cook / Coursil / Gale / Robinson / Tintweiss: Ave B Free Jam

Read "Ave B Free Jam" reviewed by Richard J Salvucci

A small story to motivate this review. Once upon a time, there was a scholar in a field of the humanities who wrote quite obscurely, even for the humanities, although his prose did not approach the glories of the postmodern. Most agreed that his writing was incomprehensible. It was sesquipedalian, if not totally obscure. In his defense, some would say that, ah, it is a case of poor translation into English, which is not his native language. But then it ...

Album Review

Jacques Coursil: Trails of Tears

Read "Trails of Tears" reviewed by Raul d'Gama Rose

Trumpeter, Jacques Coursil's Trails of Tears is quite simply, a monumental undertaking and a major work that ought to bring to light some of the earlier work that comments on colonialism in America, such as the equally important Gorée (Schemp, 1984), from Beaver Harris/Don Pullen 360˚ Experience; that composition itself being a strident dirge about the history of slavery in the western-most point of Africa, which was, at one time the centre of the slave trade. It was from Gorée ...


Jacques Coursil

Read "Jacques Coursil" reviewed by Andrey Henkin

Since Henry Grimes' resurfacing, the bar has been raised for dramatic stories of life away from music. During the summer, trumpeter Jacques Coursil released a new record, his first since 1969. Was there a commensurate exciting story for his long sojourn away from music? Not really. Since an early age, music has just been one of many careers and interests Coursil has had. He only spent the last few decades receiving two Ph.D.'s and most recently completing a Visiting Professorship ...

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Enter the "Jacques Coursil - Trails of Tears" Giveaway Contest

Enter the  "Jacques Coursil - Trails of Tears" Giveaway Contest

Source: All About Jazz

All About Jazz members are invited to enter the Sunnyside “Jacques Coursil—Trails of Tears“ giveaway contest starting today. We'll select FIVE winners at the conclusion of the contest on January 12th.Click here to enter the contest (Following Jacques Coursil at AAJ automatically enters you in the contest.) Good luck! Your Friends at Sunnyside Records About Jacques Coursil and Trails of Tears So much of the world's cultural legacy has been branded by the oppression, forced expulsion, and colonization inflicted upon ...



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Ave B Free Jam

Inky Dot


Trails of Tears

Sunnyside Records



Universal Music Group



MD (Belgium)


Minimal Brass

MD (Belgium)


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