Jean-Paul Bourelly

Jean-Paul Bourelly is an innovative and experimental guitarist, composer, and producer who excels at blending and bending various musical styles into a cohesive form. His solid and often penetrating guitar sound is informed by his Haitian and urban blues roots growing up on Chicago's south side. Early highlights include appearing on the album "Amandla" by Miles Davis as well as being included in the all-star band of Coltrane alumni at the age of 25 with Elvin Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Pharaoh Sanders. He worked through a wide array of different genres, from hip-hop with BDP's master DJ D-Nice to more progressive direction working with colleagues such as Elliott Sharp, Dennis Chambers, TM Stevens, Joe Bowie's Defunkt, Cindy Blackman, and produced albums for Cassandra Wilson. He has led over 20 recordings as a guitarist, including Truth to Power, Stone Raiders with longtime associate bassist Darryl Jones, and Boom Bop featuring Archie Shepp and the late great griot Abdourahmane Diop.

His work continues to lead him in a variety of areas including reworking the harmonics of the blues and a quest to formulate new material inspired by imaginations on dream states and groovy otherness. His label and production studio JPGotMangos serves as a creative outlet for his most progressive projects and collaborations including his critically acclaimed 2022 release of "Masters of Mud" (Shape Shifting) with rapper Sub Z for the “Black Lives - from Generation to Generation” project, the Hips Project - Sound and Motion in the Other-Sphere, as well as the upcoming Il & Wah album release with electronic musician Infinite Livez

Theatre and Curatorial works 

Jean-Paul composed stage music for Penthesilea at the Schaubühne (directed by Luk Perceval) and Lauf zum Meer at the Volksbühne Berlin (directed by Torsten Lensing). He founded the Backroom Project at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (1999-2004), was the musical curator for the Black Atlantic project in 2004, and brought the musical library Spontaneous Situation to life at the Werkstatt der Kulturen. He is also the Main Jury member of the German Jazz Prize for the years 2022 and 2023.


His musical output spawns a diverse array of variations of funky otherness. Often fiery solo exchanges, harmonic textures, and sound constellations, characterized by a spontaneous flow of rhythmic energy.

Jean-Paul Bourelly is an innovative and experimental guitarist composer who excels at blending and bending various musical styles into cohesive expression.

His music is informed by the migrant community of Haiti and the southern culture of Chicago's south side that he grew up in.

Raised by first-generation Haitians, Jean-Paul grew up amidst an unusual blend of Haitian meringue, folkloric, and hard-edged urban blues of Chicago's South Side. Along with his own singular musical vision, inspired by Howlin Wolf, Jimi Hendrix and a splash of Carlos Santana, Bourelly began to formulate his unique musical synthesis.

At the age of 18, after a one year scholarship studying with the great alto saxophonist and educator Bunky Green, he moved to New York.


New York


During his early years he worked with notable jazz figures like drummer Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders, AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams, Roy Haynes and recorded with Miles Davis. Early notice include being heavily featured on the Abrams release Blues Forever which won DownBeat record of the year.

He also made many collaborations with various members of a new generation of experimenters in genre-crossing music like Olu Dara,Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman and Graham Haynes.


BluWave Sound

From this formative stage, moving independently came nature to him. He started his own group the BluWave Bandits. After the release of Blues Forever by Abrams and Cassandra Wilson’s Point of View (JMT), Bourelly quickly came to the attention of several record labels.

JP released his first recording entitled Jungle Cowboy (JMT) preceded by Trippin (Enemy) and five consecutive records on the Japanese label DIW: Saints and Sinners, Blackadelic Blu, Rock the Carthartic Spirits, Vibe Music and Fade to Cacophony.


JP's early NewYork concept was based on expanding the borders of funk music by employing polyrhythms taken from sources far and wide. This assertive sound brought his music to the attention of the international press like the New York Times, Straight No Chaser, Le Monde and Melody Maker Magazine. Along with engagements at the original Knitting Factory and tours in Europe he was an important figure on scenes like the Black Rock Coalition and Mbase.

Reconnecting with Haitian musicians from the popular folkloric group Foula, he formed Ayibobo which merged his Haitian and his jazz improvisational sensibility. This was a first sign of him discovering his sound within an African space.


Romare Bearden "Soul Three", 1968


In Berlin, he renewed his focus on the sound which today may be called Afro Futuristic. This was affirmed by his collaboration with historian Paul Gilroy on the Black Atlantic project (Berlin HKW 2004). This work would take him towards a wider perspective, an ideal of a possible Black Atlantic sound, something that could encompass the totality of his style.

In 1995 Jean-Paul formed Boom Bop with griot singer Abdourahmane Diop and jazz legend Archie Shepp.

The group was formed from an urge to explore the mystical rhythmic and sonic ties that lie within the blood memory of the Black Atlantic experience and post industrial culture. This quest opened a new context for his expressively bluesy guitar. Based off of common themes of urban living between Dakar, Berlin and New York, Boom Bop opened ears to a kaleidoscope of sound, more voluptuous, more daring than casual world music offerings of the time.



Since the establishment of his creative music hub JPGotMangos, it was possible to produce more music independently.

In 2012 he thought he was reaching back to his BluWave sound by forming Stone Raiders, Power Trio with Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones and Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun.

One can never really go back again and Stone Raiders stumbled then surged forward when RoCking grooves, intersected with funky otherness at StoneRoc and Peavine. Truth to Power is the record. Check out the guitar burn on “Toxic U Love Episode II". It also features the debut of eternally funky bassist Darryl Jones on vocals.


JP continued to reveal Afro blues in abstract, deconstructing polyrhythms, while using analog as well as digitalized atmospheres, interrogating the new frontier of frequencies in electronic music with his musical laboratory Spontaneous Situation at the Werkstatt der Kulturen (2009- 2010), following by several Spontaneous offshoots including the Spontaneous Youth Arkestra (2013) and his Music Talk show event The Spontaneous Townhall Meetings (2014, Ballhaus Naunynstrasse).

On his 2014 release of 3KINGS “Famous Guys”, JP introduces a second dimension to his playing with rhythmic tapping. This rhythmic underpinnings teased out from his 7 stringed guitar that is navigating, subverting and finally transforms, otherwise traditional, Cameroonian High Life grooves.

Check out his latest sound and enjoy!