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James Gourley: 1926-2008
James Gourley

Born: June 9, 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri
Died: December 7, 2008 in Villeneuve-Saint-Geo, France

U.S. Expatriate Bebopper

Copyright © 2008 

An electric guitarist who helped popularize bebop as an expatriate in Europe, Jimmy Gourley died in his adopted country at the age of 82.

Gourley first came to prominence at 20, when he replaced Jimmy Raney in Jay Burkhart's Chicago-based band. He left Burkhart in 1948 and was featured as a sideman with Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons and Anita O'Day.

In 1951, Gourley moved to Paris, where he worked with Henri Renaud and recorded with Lee Konitz, Clifford Brown and Zoot Sims. After returning to Chicago in the mid-'50s for work with Chubby Jackson, he moved to Europe permanently in November 1957.

Throughout the '60s, Gourley was a regular at the Blue Note club with Kenny Clarke and Lou Bennett, and with his own trio, featuring organist Eddy Louiss. After a two-year stint managing a jazz club in the Canary Islands he returned to Paris and toured throughout Europe with a trio. He became a French citizen in 1994.

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