Bourelly was born on Chicago’s southside and started to play the guitar at age 13. He worked in various band on the south side playing Haitian, funk and various forms of jazz as a young teen. In that context he would connect with other young musicians like bassist Darryl Jones and saxophonist Steve Coleman and experiment in the clubs in different parts of the windy city. It was however his regular participation at weekly jam sessions hosted by Von Freeman and later studying jazz harmony with Bunky Green that he started to connect jazz with his funk and blues playing style.
He moved to New York at the age 18 and worked with a string of jazz greats like Chico Hamilton and Elvin Jones. He was also featured on Muhal Richard Abrams’s, Blues Forever (Black Saint 1981), a recording that won Jazz Record of the Year in Down Beats record poll. This help built a reputation for him as an adventurous guitarist with a sound steeped in the blues. He went on his own at 25 and established his first band The BluWave Bandits (the BwB)recording his first cd Jungle Cowboy in 1987.
At this time his music was employing heavy funk elements as a foundation for some kind of improvisational experience. This search led him to like-minded musicians like Olu Dara and Henry Threadgill. artists who also had an influence on his idea of merging disparate elements in his own group.
Bourelly’s thick tone and urgent solos allowed him to grab attention in the New York press and become a force in the so called “black rock” scene emerging in New York. With the help of fellow musicians Alfredo Alias (drums) Melvin Gibbs (bass) and Kundalini Mark Batson (keys) which formed the nucleus of the BwB, Bourelly recorded five cd’s for the DIW label: Saints & Sinners (1993), Blackadelic Blu (1994), Tribute to Jimi (1995) Fade to Cacaphony(1995) and Rock the Carthartic Spirits (1996).
Other notable appearances during that time included recording Trippin (Enemy records 1992) with Miles Davis (Amandla) Black Rock Xmas documentary film WDR(1992) Stuttgart Jazz Open with Pharaoh Sanders and guitarist on Cassandra Wilson debut Point of View (JMT) and Dance to the Drum Again (Columbia).
Since relocating to Berlin he formed Boom Bop after meeting griot/singer/poet Abdourahmane Diop. He also established a second identity as curator/producer/performer. This helped him navigate the limitations being defined as a jazz musician and open up a path go deeper into the idea of a modern convergence based on African Diaspora. He founded the Backroom project in Berlin’s House of World Cultures and in 2004 curated the Congo Square which culminated in his concerts with Dou Dou N’Diaye Rose and Archie Shepp called Navigating the Jazz Impluse in 2004.
With these ideas informing his music and Bourelly determination to search for new ideas, he put together a string of intriguing groups that highlight the multiple side of his ongoing sonic narrative highlighted by the Boom Bop records Boom Bop I and Boom Bop II Trance Atlantic His compositions often carry rhythmic ideas that merge Mali with the Mississippi delta and jazz infected funk with sonic worlds unknown.
The label/production entity JpGotMangos, was formed 2005 producing the release of his only solo acoustic guitar record to date, “New from a Darked out Room” and two years later Bourelly’s CutMotion (jpgotmangos 2007).
Projects with which Jean-Paul Bourelly is current is working and performing.
Guitar and vocals
Sadiq Bey, (vocalization), Reggie Washington (bass) Kenny Martin (drums)
Cindy Blackman, Calvin Weston (drums), Melvin Gibbs (bass)
Spontaneous Situation (Werkstatt der Kulturen)
Navigating the Jazz Impulse
Dou dou N’Diaye Rose (sabar), Archie Shepp (sax), Sante Di Briano (bass)
Abdourahmane Diop (vocals), Felix Sabal Lecco (drums), Reggie Washington (bass), Samba Sock (percussion)
Marlon Browden (drums), Jonas Bibi Hammond (bass)
Maze Salami and Nazeem Hasnoui (guitar), Juerg Grau (trumpet), Mansour Lette (vocals), Fabio Freire (percussion), Julian Sartorius, Alexis Amitirigala aka Singha Dee (drums), Thomas Gruenwald (baritone sax) , Manu Rindlisbacher, Flo Goette (bass) Repos (Valtin Baechi) (keys)
Dean Bowman (vocals), Wynton Kelly Stevenson (harmonica), Darryl Taylor (bass), Sako Fiili (kora)
Felix Nazim Hasnoui (guitar), Sabal Lecco (drums) Melvin Gibbs (bass)
Vibe Music II
TM Stevenson (bass), John Blackwell (drums)
BluWave Bandits (the BwB)
Kundalini Mark Batson (key, rap), Alfredo Alias (drums), Melvin Gibbs (bass), Reggie Washington (bass)