index.php (1)Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the death of James Reese Europe, the bandleader of the 369th Harlem Hellfighters. His death is an unpleasant story: after surviving the horrors of the Great War he was stabbed backstage in the dressing room at a show in Boston by the drummer in his band. I have always suspected that post traumatic stress disorder played a role in the incident. I am involved in a project regarding Europe and the 369th which, if it comes to fruition, I will discuss here on the blog. Until then, I won’t say too much. Europe’s premature death in May 1919 meant that he was not to be a fixture in the Twenties jazz scene. He very much would have been the equal of Sidney Bechet, King Oliver and even Louis Armstrong.

Reese grandson, great-grandson and other descendants were on hand at the Lusitania commemoration last Thursday here in New York. I spoke to them during the reception and can attest that they inherited the charisma and magnetism for which James Europe himself was known. Great grandson Rob is today a bluesman and provided the entertainment at the reception.

Rob Europe playing at Pier A

Rob Europe playing at Pier A

Enjoy your Sunday.

(top image/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “On patrol in no man’s land” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1919.