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Jessie Cox is Assistant Professor of Music at Harvard University and received his doctorate from Columbia University. Active as a composer, drummer, and scholar, his work thematizes questions at the intersection of black studies, music/sound studies, and critical theory. From Switzerland, with roots in Trinidad and Tobago, Cox thinks through questions of race, migration, national belonging, and our relation to the planet and the cosmos. His first monograph Sounds of Black Switzerland: Blackness, Music, and Unthought Voices (Duke UP, 2025) addresses how thinking with blackness and experimental musical practices might afford the opening of new discourses, such as thematizing Black Swiss Life.


Jessie Cox makes music about the universe and our future in it. Through avant-garde classical, experimental jazz, and sound art, he has devised his own strand of musical science fiction, one that asks where we go next. Cox’s music goes forward. When he describes it, he compares it to time travel and space exploration, likening the role of a composer to that of a rocket ship traversing undiscovered galaxies. He is influenced by a vast array of artists who have used their music to imagine futures, and takes Afrofuturism as a core inspiration, asking questions about existence, and the ways we make spaces habitable. Known for its disquieting tone and unexpected structural changes, his music steps into the unknown, and has been referred to by the New Yorker (Alex Ross) as an example of “dynamic pointillism,” a nebulous and ever-expanding sound world that includes “breathy instrumental noises, mournfully wailing glissandi, and climactic stampedes of frantic figuration.”


A dedicated collaborator, Cox has worked as a composer and drummer with ensembles and institutions such as the Sun Ra Arkestra, LA Phil, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, and the International Contemporary Ensemble; at Festivals such as the Lucerne Festival, MaerzMusik, and Opera Omaha. For his work as a composer, he has been recognized with a Fromm Foundation commission, the ASCAP Fred Ho Award, and his commissions have been funded by the Ernst von Siemens Foundation, Pro Helvetia, New Music USA, and others.


Cox’ scholarly writing asks new questions about our world through music. Recently, he has published in and co-translated the book Composing While Black, published as a bilingual edition in German and English by Wolke Verlag in 2023. Further texts appear in liquid blackness, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Positionen Texte zur Aktuellen Musik, Sound American, the American Music Review, and others.

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“…some of the most experimental music of not just the day but the season… They held a listener’s attention with surprises and delights aplenty.“

— LA Times

“ Jessie Cox' s Gene-Splicing Futurities'”

—Steve Smith


“ Jessie Cox sound science poetry magick in 'As a Song of a World,'”

—Steve Smith


“ ...was struck by Jessie Cox’s Breathing...'”

—Alex Ross

“…modelled on timeless grooves worthy to make the lovers of Sun RA drool…”

— BienneOut (CH)


“…complex, beautiful music.”

— Castle of our Skins


“…draws the succinct, low notes of a drum from the bassoon.”

— The Bay State Banner


“ Washa! a first record of high class, a contemporary jazz, steeped in both classical and Caribbean influences.…Nu Creation is… reminiscent of the sounds of Steps Ahead. Washa! is an end-to-end success, a musical synthesis brilliantly performed by talented musicians...”

— Le Bananier Bleu

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