Tuesday, April 9, 2019

James Reese Europe 100 Years -- April 9, 2019

Talking Machine World, 15-May-1919
James Reese Europe died 100 years ago today, on 09-April-1919. He was a musician, a composer, a conductor and a producer of musical shows. He was a pioneer in orchestral ragtime music and was part of the transition between ragtime and jazz, which was just starting to roll.  He led the band that toured with Vernon and Irene Castle, famous ballroom dancers.  

When the war broke out, he volunteered to join the New York National Guard. He wound up serving as an officer in the 369th Infantry Regiment, the Harlem Hellfighters. White officers in the US Army did not want to deal with African-American troops, so they happily assigned the Hellfighters to French Army command.  Europe led a machine gun detachment in the Second Battle of the Marne, and formed the regiment's band, which became famous.  The Hellfighters Band toured around France, performing for Allied troops and the wounded in hospitals.  The band had started on a tour around the United States when Europe was murdered.  

General John J Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Force. General Henri Gouraud commanded troops in the Dardanelles and then on the Western Front.


Leader of Famous 369th U. S. Infantry Band Meets Tragic Death in Boston — Organization Recently Made Number of Pathé Records

The tragic death in Boston on May 9 of Lieutenant James Reese Europe, better known as "Jim Europe," after an altercation with a member of this famous band, ends a career that was one of the sensations of the music world.

Jim Europe was born in Mobile, Ala., in 1881, but by reason of his long metropolitan career he is properly considered a New Yorker. After picking up musical education wherever he could, he became not only a conductor of individuality, but a composer of no mean skill, an accomplished pianist and a musician who could play any instrument in the band.

Before the war he was the most popular leader of New York's dance hall orchestras, and the one man who made jazz music the favorite music of the day. When the war started Europe enlisted, and soon became the leader of the most famous band of the American forces.' He led his "Hell Fighters" (369th United States Infantry) band overseas and made American jazz the favorite music of France. This famous fighting band cheered the boys "over the top" and was a very determined factor in helping win the war. Europe's band played for Generals Pershing and Gouraud, and at their direction went through France, playing at the various rest camps and hospitals and in Paris.

Since his return from the battlefields of France, Europe's jazz band has made a sensational tour in this country, playing to packed houses in every city. Everyone that has heard this remarkable music has gone wild about it.

Although Europe has died, his wonderful music will fortunately live forever. This famous leader and his "Hell Fighters' Band" have made records for Pathé of all of the favorite selections. These Pathé records give Europe's music at its best. By means of these records the jazz music, inaugurated and perfected by this wonderful leader, will stand as a lasting memorial to the skill of Lieutenant Europe and enable American dance lovers to always hear this splendid dance music.

Talking Machine World, 15-May-1919

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Nick said...

Thanks for posting. I'm a ragtime fan :)

Joe Thompson said...

Hi Nick. I'm happy to hear that. I am too.

Nick said...

I think the song that drew me in was "The Trolley Car Rag"!

Joe Thompson said...

That makes sense ;0)