James Reese Europe was one of the earliest figures of jazz music. He was a great bandleader and an inspiration to African-Americans in the early years of the last century. Europe was the leader of
Europe’s Society Orchestra that first
recorded in 1913. That orchestra ostensibly played ragtime music, the
forerunner of jazz; however, Europe’s orchestra
played a highly- improvised version of ragtime which could easily be classified
as jazz. Europe took ragtime music and speeded
it up considerably, making it a frenetic and highly infectious and danceable
Europe was the first African-American bandleader to ever make a commercial recording and in 1914,
and the Society Orchestra recorded Castle’s Lame Duck” and “Castle House Rag”
for the Victor label.
During World War One,
was enlisted in the U.S, army as a lieutenant with the African-American 369th
Infantry Regiment that was dubbed the “Harlem Hellcats.” Europe also directed
the regimental band and with them made recordings for the Pathe brothers while
stationed in .
France Europe and the band also performed concerts,
making a hit of the number, “Memphis Blues.”
Shortly after returning to
America at the conclusion of the war, Europe was
stabbed in the neck with a pen by one of his drummers during the intermission
of a concert in .
Europe succumbed to the wound, and became the first African-American citizen to
be honoured with a public funeral in Boston . New
|James Reese Europe and Hellfighters Band|