James Reese Presents Europe WWI Centennial Tribute Concert

American ragtime and early jazz bandleader, arranger, and composer, James Reese Europe, will be celebrated at a World War I Centennial Tribute Concert on June 8, 2018 at Symphony Space. The evening will be presented by New York Jazzharmonic Traditional Jazz Sextet under the baton of Ron Wasserman and vocalist Aubrey Barnes. Presented in collaboration with the United States World War I Centennial Commission and the New York Veteran's Alliance. The Commission will present a proclamation to the Harlem Hellfighters' 369th Veterans Association. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at www.symphonyspace.org/event/10003

Reese was the first African American commissioned officer to leads troops into a WWI battle. He and his Harlem Hellfighters band brought African-American music to Europe the early 1900's. Reese started the first union of African-American musicians; the Clef Club. Decades before Benny Goodman, Reese brought the Clef Club to Carnegie Hall and was the first non-classical music to ever been played there in the space. He was among the first to integrate Vaudeville performing with Verne and Irene Castle.

Gene Peters, noted collector of African-American artifacts, will display his collection of James Reese Europe military antiques at the Centennial Concert. Among the items are a WWI Trench Bugle (with 11 French towns etched into the leather strap), a 1918 French Croix-de-Guerre war medal, and a complete WWI Gas Mask.

The concert will consist of music composed and performed by J. R. Europe from several phases of his career.

About James Reese Europe

· In 1918, James Reese became the first African American commissioned officer to leads troops into a WWI battle.

· He led the military band that was the first to introduce jazz music to Europe and was an immediate sensation. After the Great War ended, they remained for months touring France and England.

· In 1919, returning home, Reese made recordings with his military band making him one of the leading musicians of his day. He envisioned a rosy future.

· Weeks later, he was murdered by one of his own musicians.

Prior to his military career his astonishing accomplishments included:

· Developed the first union of African-American musicians, the Clef Club.

· Established himself as the leading society musician of his day.

· Brought the Clef-Club orchestra to Carnegie Hall, the first time that non-classical music had ever been played there, decades before Benny Goodman did, and years before Paul Whiteman organized his Rhapsody in Blue concert at (then) Aeolian Hall.

· Became the first person of color to music direct for a white act, Irene and Vernon Castle, the most popular proponent of the dance craze of the day.

· Composed several pieces for the Castles.

About The New York Jazzharmonic

The New York Jazzharmonic was founded in 2014 by bassist Ron Wasserman and noted composer Miho Hazama, who remain the artistic directors. It consists of two units. A 17-piece jazz orchestra that puts on a concert series at Symphony Space, mostly of commissioned works in multiple styles by contemporary composers, with a concentration on women composers. It also recreates the great big-band jazz works of the past, such as those by Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie, and Duke Ellington.

The smaller Traditional-Jazz sextet recreates music by the early masters such as Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Scott Joplin, but also premieres new works composed in an older style by leader Ron Wasserman.

The released a CD in 2016 entitled "Take a Bow," which includes three James Reese Europe "Castle" compositions.

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