Pianist Jason Morans New Project Honors Forgotten Musical Legend

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Friday January 17, 2020

From Mercury News

Pianist Jason Morans New Project Honors Forgotten Musical Legend

“With a story marked by wartime heroism, sacrifice, show business savvy, artistic innovation, and an unspeakably tragic murder, James Reese Europe’s life contains every element required for a Hollywood epic.

The African-American bandleader, composer and arranger navigated the transition from ragtime to jazz in the first decades of the 20th century, laying down the conceptual and organizational foundations for the music that flowered in speakeasys, dance halls and Broadway theaters during the Harlem Renaissance. More than two decades before Benny Goodman’s landmark foray brought the swing era into Carnegie Hall, Europe presented his Clef Club Orchestra in the august venue for a program of proudly black music in 1912.

Despite his foundational role in modern American music, Europe is barely remembered today, a situation that pianist Jason Moran is determined to rectify. His Stanford Live residency kicks off Jan. 22 with his multimedia program ‘James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin,’ a vivid reimagining of music recorded in France by the Harlem Hellfighters, the band Europe assembled from the African-American 369th regiment.”

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