Central State Robeson Winds play tribute to ‘Hellfighter’ bandleader in celebrating Dayton VA med center

The Central State University Robeson Winds perform tribute concert to jazz pioneer James Reece Europe, in celebration of Dayton VA Medical Center's 150th anniversary on Feb. 17, 2017. (Todd Jackson/Staff)

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The Central State University Robeson Winds perform tribute concert to jazz pioneer James Reece Europe, in celebration of Dayton VA Medical Center's 150th anniversary on Feb. 17, 2017. (Todd Jackson/Staff)

The Central State University Robeson Winds performed a tribute concert to James Reese Europe, WWI veteran and a pioneer of early jazz and ragtime music, to celebrate the Dayton VA Medical Center's 150th anniversay as well as Black History Month.

"This was a fantastic opportunity to tie our own history... and also honor an incredible leader and World War I veteran," said Ted Froats, the medical cener's public affairs manager.

According to Floyd Levin's book, "Class Jazz; A Personal View Of The Music and The Musicians," Europe was leader of the 369th Infantry Band, also known as the "Hellfighters."

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Jazz/ragtime pioneer and composer James Reece Europe (Courtesy/Wikipedia)

Jazz/ragtime pioneer and composer James Reece Europe (Courtesy/Wikipedia)

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Jazz/ragtime pioneer and composer James Reece Europe (Courtesy/Wikipedia)

He introduced the sounds of American ragtime to Europeans during WWI. In just a few weeks after returning from the war, Levin wrote that Europe and his Hellfighters recorded 11 tunes for the Pathe Freres Phonograph Company of Brooklyn, Levin wrote.

In 1910, he organized the Clef Club, a musical society for black artists in New York City. In 1912, his 150-piece Clef Club Orchestra because one of the first jazz bands to perform in Carnegie Hall.

At the time of his death in May 1919 in Boston, Europe was 39 and at the forefront of the emerging jazz movement.

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