Jessie Cox is a Swiss composer, drummer, and scholar with roots in Trinidad and Tobago currently completing his doctoral studies at Columbia University. He has created works for a variety of musical settings, including works for solo instruments, ensembles, orchestra, voice, electronics, dance, improvising musicians, and more. Taking Afrofuturism as a core inspiration, Cox’s work asks questions about existence and the ways we make spaces habitable.
A dedicated collaborator, Cox has worked as a composer and drummer with ensembles and musicians all over the globe, such as the Sun Ra Arkestra, LA Phil, Ensemble Modern, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea, Ensemble Contrechamps, and the JACK Quartet; at Festivals such as the Lucerne Festival, MaerzMusik, Spoleto Festival, Moers Festival, and Opera Omaha. For his work as a composer he has been recognized with a commission by the Paul Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, features of his work in the New Yorker, LA Times, Van Magazine, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and his commissions have been funded by the Ernst von Siemens Foundation, Pro Helvetia, New Music USA, and others.
As a scholar, Cox engages socio-political questions through music, and sits at the intersection of black studies, musicology, ethnomusicology, critical improvisation studies, and critical theory. His scholarly writing has been published in liquid blackness, Critical Studies in Improvisation, Positionen Texte zur Aktuellen Musik, Sound American, the American Music Review, and others. Recently he has published the chapter “Stories of the Mothership” in the edited collection Composing While Black (Wolke Verlag, 2023), which he also helped translate.
At Columbia University, Cox also runs the interdisciplinary and international study group the Comparing Domains of Improvisation. The group has welcomed distinguished scholars and artists from a variety of fields, across the humanities, sciences, and arts.