Jacques Coursil: Hostipitality Suite 

The HOSTIPITALITY SUITE as a sonic project was birthed from the research and exhibitions project  WHOSE LAND HAVE I LIT ON NOW? Contemplations on the Notions of Hospitality at SAVVY Contemporary. The project was an effort to deliberate on the complex entanglements between hostility and hospitality as proposed by Jacques Derrida.[1] In imagining a phonic scope and a sonic scape for this project, it became evident that we needed someone like the Martinican Jacques Coursil — a linguist, philosopher and musician, whose albums like Black Suite (BYG Actuel, 1969), Way Ahead (BYG Actuel, 1969), Clameurs (Universal Jazz, 2007), Trails of Tears (Universal, 2010) or FreeJazzArt: Sessions for Bill Dixon (RogueArt, 2014) a.o. have served as important contributions to the history of jazz of the 20th and 21st centuries. Born in Montmartre of Martinican parents, and having grown up in the Parisian suburbs, Jacques Coursil knows too well what it means to be stuck in the conundrum of being a guest and a host at the same time. Choosing the path of music, and jazz for that matter, seemed to be a possibility of negotiating those spaces between guest, host and ghost.

Jacques Coursil’s sonic works embody knowledges and explore the possibility of archiving epistemologies in sonic spaces. The work calls for us to listen to details, to pay attention to that which is unsaid but uttered in the wide range of sonic spectra. Though Jacques Coursil uses vocals in his practice, the crux of the narration is with and through the horn. In the extreme subtleness and spaciousness of the sonic manifestation of narration, the listener is challenged to listen to one’s inner self, as much as relate to the sonority of the quotidian. 

In the penultimate stage of the production process, Jacques Coursil sent us a recording that he described in the following way: “This piece is surprising and certainly boring for people who think that music is an entertainment. I conceived it like a painting (not dancing, not singing): a kind of lament. Some people will hate me for that: too bad! Others will take it as a document for archive. If you close your eyes, you will feel that it is missing a ballet with images. I have stretched time so much because the text was short, but also for some other things... So it is not jazz or Caribbean; just a piece of contemporary art. The synth arrangement is from Jeff Baillard, a Martinican composer and sound master. On one thing, you were perfectly right: only live performance is worth doing and from now on, I will not do any studio work anymore." 


Jacques Derrida and Anne Dufourmantelle, Of Hospitality (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000).