Friday, February 10, 2006

Hellfighters

I'm currently reading Reid Badger's informative and vivid biography of early jazz composer, violinist and bandleader James Reese Europe, and I'd been looking for some recordings of Europe's music. Now I have found them, both on a CD, and on a website written by Tim Graczyk. On the website it's possible to listen to Europe's World War I compositions "On Patrol In No Man's Land", "All Of No Man's Land Is Ours", and a couple of dozen others. These vigorous, robust, syncopated arrangements from the very dawn of jazz - beautifully played, with warm, brilliant tone, by the African-American 369th Infantry "Hellfighters" Band of 1918-19 - give a whole new meaning to the term "big band". There is even a Russian Rag.
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