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 the 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 helped him built a reputation as an adventurous soloist 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.
After the release of Jungle Cowboy, Bourelly’s urgent solos and original sound allowed him to grab the attention of 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 beyond the limitations placed on him by being defined within the limited confines of a jazz industry. This new positioning as curator and producer gave more control to articulate his vision. It open up a path to go deeper into the idea of a modern convergence of sounds based on migration, and reconnecting many links of the modern 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.
Determination to search for a group to help him express these new ideas, he put together a string of intriguing projects that highlighted the multiple sides of his ongoing sonic narrative, Boom Bop records being a high point (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 established in 2005 by producing both the recording of his only solo acoustic record to date, “New from a Darked out Room” and two years later Bourelly’s CutMotion (jpgotmangos 2007) and most recently producing Stone Raiders “Truth to Power” on Yellow Bird records.
Jean-Paul Bourelly’s projects
Darryl Jones: bass, Will Calhoun: drums, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals
Sadiq Bey: vocalization, Kenny Martin: drums Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
Joe Bowie – trombone, vocals, Jamaaladeen Tacuma – bass, Gea Russel – dj, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals, electronics
Cindy Blackman/Calvin Weston: drums, Melvin Gibbs: bass, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
Machete, Future Blues, Play on it!, Citizen X, Groove Meditation, Digital Paradise
Dou dou N’Diaye Rose sabar, Archie Shepp: sax, Sante Di Briano: bass, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
Abdourahmane Diop: vocals, Felix Sabal Lecco: drums, Reggie Washington: bass, Samba Sock: perc,Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals
Christian Bourdon – drums, Andre Nkouaga – bass, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals, Maze Salami and Nazeem Hasnoui: guitar, Juerg Grau: Trumpet, Mansour Lette: vocals Fabio Freire: percussion, Julian Sartorius, Alexis Amitirigala (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, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
Felix Nazim Hasnoui: guitar, Sabal Lecco: drums, Melvin Gibbs: bass, Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
TM Stevenson: bass, John Blackwell: drums.Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals,
Jean-Paul Bourelly – guitar, vocals, Kundalini Mark Batson: key, rap, Alfredo Alias: drums, Melvin Gibbs: bass, Reggie Washington: bass