Welcome to the website for Jason Moran’s acclaimed “meditation” on the life and legacy of James Reese Europe. On New Year’s Day 1918, Reese Europe – an iconic figure in the evolution of African-American music – landed in Brest with the Harlem Hellfighters. As well as their achievements in combat, Europe’s crack military music ensemble popularised the new spirit of jazz to a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture. And this is but the beginning of a story that continues to fascinate and intrigue.
The first phase of the project has just completed a successful and well-received run of concerts in the UK (London, Cardiff and Paisley) as well as Jazzfest Berlin and the US premiere in Washington DC – see some of the great media coverage below.
The project was commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Serious, the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin, with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and from the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Germany.