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Bourelly was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States, his mother American and his father an immigrant from Haiti. Bourelly sang at the Lyric Opera when he was ten years old and learned piano and drums, picking up guitar by age 14. He moved to New York City in 1979, where he played with Muhal Richard Abrams, Roy Haynes, McCoy Tyner, and Elvin Jones; he also had a role in the film The Cotton Club, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He released his debut solo effort in 1987, and played with Miles Davis in 1988.
Bourelly also branched into rock music, as a member of the Black Rock Coalition (founded by Vernon Reid of Living Colour) and in time spent playing with Buddy Miles, Robin Trower, Jack Bruce, Terry Bozzio, and Matalex. He played with Cassandra Wilson on several of her albums, and continued to release solo efforts into the 2000s; these have been most successful in Japan. He is also a member of the Stone Raiders musical band.
His daughter, Bibi Bourelly, is a singer and songwriter.
- Jungle Cowboy (JMT Records, 1987)
- Trippin (Enemy Records, 1992)
- Saints & Sinners (DIW, 1994)
- Blackadelic-Blu (DIW, 1994)
- Tribute to Jimi (Koch Records, 1995)
- Fade to Cacophony (Evidence Records, 1997)
- Rock the Cathartic Spirits (Koch, 1998)
- Vibe Music (BMG, 1999)
- Boom Bop (Jazz Magnet, 2001)
- Trance Atlantic (Challenge Records, 2002)
- News From a Darked Out Room (Phonector, 2006)
- "Cut Motion" (jpgotmangos,) 2007
With Muhal Richard Abrams
With Charles and Eddie
- Duophonic (Capitol, 1992)
With Craig Harris
- Blackout in the Square Root of Soul (JMT, 1989)
- Love & Peace (Trio, 1982)
With Cassandra Wilson
- Point of View (JMT, 1985)
- Days Aweigh (JMT, 1987)
- She Who Weeps (JMT, 1991)
- Dance to the Drums Again (Columbia, 1992)
- "Biography by Greg Prato". Allmusic.com. Retrieved September 2, 2011.