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Europe, James Reese

Born: 1881 AD
Died: 1919 AD
Nationality: American
Categories: Composers, Musicians, Pianists

1881 – James Reese Europe, born on the 22nd of February in Mobile, Alabama, U.S. He was an American bandleader, arranger, composer, a major figure in the transition from ragtime to jazz.

1904 – Studied piano and violin in his youth and about settled in New York City.

1910 – He directed musical comedies and helped organize the Clef Club, a union of African-American musicians.

       – The 125-member Clef Club orchestra that he conducted at Carnegie Hall featured an extraordinary instrumentation, including 47 mandolins and bandores and 27 harp-guitars.

1913 – His Society Orchestra was probably the first African-American band to record, when it offered fast versions of ragtime works, typically in 2/4 metre, with urgent rhythmic momentum.

       – His band also regularly accompanied the popular white dance team of Irene and Vernon Castle, who popularized the fox-trot and a dance in 5/4 metre, to scores by Europe and his collaborator, Ford Dabney.

1919 – Died in Boston, Massachusetts on the 10th of May.