Celebrating 150 Years ~ 1867-2017

James Reese Europe Concert

February 17th, 2017

James "Jim" Reese Europe was born in Mobile, Alabama to Henry and Laura Europe. His family including his older sisters (Minnie and Ida) and older brother (John) moved to Washington, D.C. when he was 10 years old. He moved to New York in 1904.

Military service

SS Stockhom. Jazz Band leader Lt. James Reese Europe back with 15th New York.
During World War I, Europe obtained a commission in the New York Army National Guard, where he saw combat as a lieutenant with the 369th Infantry Regiment (the "Harlem Hellfighters"). He went on to direct the regimental band to great acclaim. In February and March 1918, James Reese Europe and his military band travelled over 2,000 miles in France, performing for British, French and American military audiences as well as French civilians. Europe's "Hellfighters" also made their first recordings in France for the Pathe brothers. The first concert included a French march, and the Stars and Stripes Forever as well as syncopated numbers such as "The Memphis Blues", which, according to a later description of the concert by band member Noble Sissle "... started ragtimitis in France".
Post-war career

After his return home in February 1919 he stated, "I have come from France more firmly convinced than ever that Negros should write Negro music. We have our own racial feeling and if we try to copy whites we will make bad copies ... We won France by playing music which was ours and not a pale imitation of others, and if we are to develop in America we must develop along our own lines." In 1919 Europe made more recordings for Pathe records. These include both instrumentals and accompaniments with vocalist Noble Sissle who, with Eubie Blake, would later have great success with their 1921 production of Shuffle Along, which gives us the classic song "I'm Just Wild About Harry". Differing in style from Europe's recordings of a few years earlier, they incorporate blues, bluenotes and early jazz influences (including a rather stiff cover record of the Original Dixieland Jass Band's "Clarinet Marmalade").


Tanney Johnson said of his death: "Before Jim Europe came to New York, the colored man knew nothing but Negro dances and porter's work. All that has been changed. Jim Europe was the living open sesame to the colored porters of this city. He took them from their porter's places and raised them to positions of importance as real musicians. I think the suffering public ought to know that in Jim Europe, the race has lost a leader, a benefactor, and a true friend." At the time of his death, he was the best-known African-American bandleader in the United States. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

More Information found here:



Dayton 150 James Reese Europe Concert Flyer



DATE:                FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017

TIME:                 7:00 PM


                           4100 W. THIRD STREET

                  DAYTON, OHIO 45428




                           MR. RAMON KEY, CONDUCTOR

                           MR. HAL MELIA, NARRATOR



James Reese Europe Band (sample)

Castle House Rag by James Reese Europe - Paragon Ragtime Orchestra

Dayton VA Medical Center presents in conjunction with the following community partners:

Central State University


Central State University Music Program


The American Veterans Heritage Center







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