James Reese Europe
February 22, 1881 - April 9, 1919
James Reese Europe forever changed the face of popular music when in 1905 he helped stage the first public jazz concert in the United States as a member of Ernest Hogan's Memphis Students.
Europe moved with his family to Washington, D.C. at the age of 10, and received his music education in the public schools.
He made his Carnegie Hall debut as a conductor of a 125 piece Clef Club Symphony Orchestra in 1912. In 1914, Europe began an association with dancers Irene and Vernon Castle which lasted until Vernon's death in 1917. Europe's Society Orchestra toured at home and abroad with the Castles. The group is credited with the creation of the Fox Trot.
In 1917, Europe organized a band for the U.S. 15th Infantry, a group nicknamed the "Hellfighters". The band became the favorite of General Pershing, and led the parade through New York at the end of World War I.
His groups were the first black bands to make recordings. He recorded as early as 1913 for the Victor Talking Machine Company and made a series of recordings for the Pathe Talking Machine and Record Company in 1919.
He was killed by a fellow musician in 1919.