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.
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