James Reese Europe was a leading figure on the New York popular music scene 100 years ago and achieved a lot in quite a short span. He brought Black music to a broader audience, desegregated Broadway and the musicians union, adapted the use of saxes and the drum set in Jazz, landed the first recording contract of a Black ensemble, and invented the Fox Trot. His orchestra was the first to perform Jazz at Carnegie Hall, 26 years before Benny Goodman.
When the US entered World War I he enlisted in the National Guard, was sent to France and was the first Black Officer to lead troops in battle. He was wounded and sent back to the band he helped form. That unit introduced jazz to the French and they became international celebrities. All the while Jim Europe’s innovations changed Ragtime to what became the Golden Age of Jazz.
Traveling from the stage of Carnegie Hall to the battlefields of World War I France, this presentation combines narrative, images, video and live music to chart the story of this groundbreaking musician and soldier. Enjoy an evening showcasing how Jazz began and experience the lost story of James Reese Europe.