Marquette Hosts Black History Month Tribute Concert
Released: Feb. 9, 2006
MILWAUKEE – He influenced the music of such famous musicians as George Gershwin, Eubie Blake and Duke Ellington. Today, nearly 100 years later, James Reese Europe is influencing a new generation of musicians. At least that’s the hope of Nick Contorno, director of music programs at Marquette University.
In the second annual Black History Month Tribute Concert to James Reese Europe on Thursday, Feb. 23, the Marquette University Symphonic Band will play the music of Europe and other musicians whom he influenced. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Varsity Theatre, 1324 W. Wisconsin Ave. The Marquette Gospel Choir will also perform.
“Europe influenced the development of jazz in both the United States and France,” Contorno said. “A contemporary of John Philip Sousa, Europe popularized ragtime, dance music and the beginning of jazz while creating both opportunities and respect for black musicians.”
Born in 1880 in Mobile, Ala., Europe was trained as a violinist but became a popular pianist. In 1910 he organized the Clef Club, an organization of Harlem musicians who performed at society parties and dances. The Clef Club became the first jazz band to play at Carnegie Hall in a 1912 benefit performance. At the start of World War I, Europe enlisted and was soon asked to form a military band. The 369th U.S. Infantry’s Hell Fighters Band entertained troops and citizens throughout Europe. The unit also served 191 days in combat, longer than any other U.S. unit.
The band returned to the United States in 1919 for a domestic tour that was cut short by Europe’s tragic death later that year after he was stabbed by a disgruntled member of his band.
The free Marquette University concert will include the “Castle Doggy-Foxtrot” and “Castles in Europe” by James Reese Europe as well as “The Genius of Ray Charles” and “An Ellington Portrait.”
Birthday cake will be served following the concert.
Date: Thurs., Feb. 23, 2006
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Varsity Theatre
1324 W. Wisconsin Ave.
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