Described by VAN Magazine (Brin Solomon) as “A multifaceted Black Swiss composer, performer, and scholar,” 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, and his commissions have been funded by the Ernst von Siemens Foundation, Pro Helvetia, New Music USA, and others.
Currently completing his doctorate at Columbia University, Cox’s scholarly writing asks new questions about our world through music. Recently, he has published 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.