Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jean-Paul Bourelly

Jean-Paul Bourelly

On the Knitting Factory’s Main Stage during a recent and rare trip to New York City, genre-hopping guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly ripped it up on his sparkling Framus ax with his power trio of electric bassist Reggie Washington (Steve Coleman’s Five Elements) and whirlwind drummer Rodney Holmes (Santana, Zawinul Syndicate). Together they summoned up the ferocious power and jam aesthetic of ’60s rock along with the adventurous spirit of ’70s avant-garde jazz. Special guest Henry Threadgill completed the picture of this modern day Band of Gypsies. Their sound was at once piercing and probing, slamming and swinging, toe-curling and harmonically provocative. Imagine if Jimi Hendrix had lived and gone on to take guitar lessons with Pat Martino while Buddy Miles had woodshedded with a stack of Tony Williams records.

But on the other side of the Atlantic, Bourelly is playing a different tune. Now based in Berlin, the Chicago native and former Brooklyn resident is touring Europe with an African ensemble in support of his latest recording, Boom Bop (recorded on the German PAO label and licensed in the States by Jazz Magnet). An ambitious blend of blues, funk, psychedelia, rap, avant-garde and world-music elements, it represents a place where the spirits of Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Parker, Don Cherry and Mother Africa dance together harmoniously. Recorded with a core group of Senegalese percussionists while prominently showcasing the charismatic vocalist Abdourahmane Diop (known as the Howlin’ Wolf of Africa), it also features Threadgill on two tracks and tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp on three. Those myriad qualities on Boom Bop fuse most powerfully on pieces like “New Afro Blu,” the Prime Time-ish “Three Chambers of Diop,” the rap-flavored “Invisible Indivisible” and “Kinetic Threadness.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published