[JPL] Alpha List of Jazz Musicians/Jazz Experts Who Served in The Military - Better late than never but let's not forget those who served in World War I !!!

mfa - jazz radio promotion, publicity & consulting MitchellFeldmanAssociates at comcast.net
Tue May 31 17:28:53 EDT 2011


Greetings Group...

Sorry for chiming in so late but I was offline over the weekend.

I'd be surprised if anyone's music library contains a studio-friendly recording one could have played on Memorial Day however I would like to point out that some of the earliest jazz musicians were members of the American Expeditionary Force military bands during WW I and are responsible for introducing the music to Europe in 1918 when it was still in its infancy.

These would be members of the “Harlem Hell Fighters” led by James Reese Europe (who as a civilian was the foremost society bandleader in New York City). Noble Sissle was the drum major of this unit. They recorded 18 songs for Pathé between March 3rd and 14th in 1919 including “On Patrol in No Mans Land,” “All Of No Man’s Land Is Ours,” a medley of current Broadway hits, W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” and “Memphis Blues” and “Ja Da” and “Darktown Strutters Ball” which had instantly become hits for the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB) when released on their landmark jazz recordings of 1917.

I happen to know this as I have a book proposal lying on a shelf about the history of jazz in Europe and have conducted a lot of research into this episode in the exportation of this American art form across the pond. The more tolerant attitudes towards race in Europe (particularly in Paris and to a lesser extent in London and Berlin) led many black army veterans to become expatriates after the war some of whom earned a living playing early forms of jazz.

I've pasted in below some more detailed information in an excerpt from my work in progress (the words are © BTW :-).

Best regards,

Mitchell

James Reese Europe’s Legacy

by Mitchell Feldman

On January 31, 1919, the 369th Infantry Regiment of New York marched down to the docks of the French port of Brest where troop tenders waited to ferry the African-American soldiers out to transport ships that would carry them back to the US.  Before sailing home, Lt. James Reese Europe led the regiment’s band – credited by its drum major, Noble Sissle, with having infected France with a severe case of “ragtimitis” – in a farewell performance from the deck of the SS Stockholm.

The black foot soldiers of the 369th, nicknamed “The Fighting Hellcats,” were the most highly decorated American combat unit of WW I.  The citation accompanying the French government’s award of the Croix de Guerre to the whole regiment for its bravery and successes on the Champagne front praised the warrior-musicians for “never having lost a man captured or relinquished a foot of ground they were ordered to hold.”  Yet, they got a bitter taste of the reception awaiting them in America during the three weeks they had to wait for their embarkation orders.  The U.S. Army High Command, worried that African-Americans treated as equals in France would expect egalitarian treatment at home, ordered the Military Police in Brest to treat the black soldiers roughly and delayed the unit’s departure until its behavior was suitably submissive.

The prophetic lyrics to “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down On The Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree)?” that Sissle sang in a Manhattan studio during a series of recordings Lt. Europe made for the Pathé label the following March, addressed the problems returning African-American veterans faced in the US.  Assertions that fighting for their country abroad had earned black soldiers the right to no longer be treated as second-class citizens clashed head-on with the harsh reality of the racist attitudes still firmly entrenched in America.  Seventy-seven blacks were lynched in the Southern US in 1919, a year also remembered for its “Red Summer” when blood ran through the streets of northern cities like Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. during the largest wave of race riots in American history.  It is no wonder African-Americans veterans, who had enjoyed a greater level of freedom serving as soldiers in France than out of uniform at home, would hasten to return to Europe where they founded expatriate communities in London and Paris.  Among the things they brought with them across the Atlantic from home was jazz.

The Stockholm docked in New York’s harbor on February 12, 1919 – a year to the day after Lt. Europe and the Hellcats band inaugurated an historic five-week tour of France with a concert at the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes.  French and American military and diplomatic dignitaries joined local officials at the event, a celebration of Franco-American friendship commemorating President Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday.  The program included performances of ragtime and other forms of syncopated music that provoked a flurry of foot tapping from the formally clad audience.  Back in New York, Lt. Europe, one of the few men of any race to receive both a standing ovation after performing in Carnegie Hall and a decoration for valor fighting in the muddy trenches of France, led the nation’s first WW I victory parade on February 17th.  The 15th New York National Guard Heavy Foot Infantry Regiment, as the 369th was formally known, was selected to lead the troops that marched through the city’s new Victory Arch in Madison Square Park at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street.  Under Lt. Europe’s direction, 60 brass- and reed-players and a field music section of 30 trumpets and drums played patriotic hymns and ragtime tunes to the roar of the crowd of more than a million spectators that lined Fifth Avenue all the way up to Harlem. The honor echoed one accorded the regiment three months earlier.  Its members, who had fought as part of the 161st Division of the 4th French Army, were named the advance guard of the triumphant Allied Forces and were the first unit to traverse “No Man’s Land” after the Armistice and cross front lines abandoned by the defeated Germans.

After his discharge on February 25th, Europe quickly took steps to make the most of his Fighting Hellcats’ acclaim while patriotic fervor still gripped the country.  He knew John Philip Sousa was on the road with his marching band and that E.E. Thompson and his 367th “Buffaloes,” Jack Thomas and the 368th Regimental Band and the 370th Old Eighth Illinois Band led by George Dulf had just arrived stateside and were planning concert tours of their own.  With Tim Brymn’s 350th Field Artillery 70 “Black Devils” Band and Will Vodery’s 807th Pioneers scheduled to return in March, Europe wanted to capitalize on the fact that his was the first of the celebrated regimental bands to return home after achieving fame abroad.  In an article in The Chicago Defender on March 1, 1919, he announced that members of his unit had left the Army en masse to join him on a US tour that might be followed by a stop in London for a concert requested by the Prince of Wales and conceivably a European tour.

Europe declined an offer from the membership of the Clef Club to return as president of the first professional association of black musicians in the US that he had co-founded in New York in April 1910.  Instead, he and the Fighting Hellcat Band recorded 18 songs for Pathé between March 3rd and 14th including “On Patrol in No Mans Land,” “All Of No Man’s Land Is Ours,” a medley of current Broadway hits, W.C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” and “Memphis Blues” and “Ja Da” and “Darktown Strutters Ball” which had instantly become hits for the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (ODJB) when released on their landmark jazz recordings of 1917.  On March 16th, what was billed as “Lt. James Reese Europe’s Famous 369th U.S. Infantry Band Featuring ‘Superstar’ Lt. Noble Sissle as Tenor Soloist” kicked off a triumphant 10-week tour of 18 Eastern and Midwestern American cities.  The opening performance, in Hammerstein’s Manhattan Opera House, was advertised as the first opportunity for New Yorkers to hear “The Band That Set All France Jazz Mad!” with “65 Battling Musicians Direct From The Fighting Fronts in France.”

A letter published in the spring if 1919 in The New York Age by a YMCA nurse posted in “‘No Man’s Land’ about 30 miles north of Verdun between the Meuse and Argonne Forest” revealed that the music Europe played during the war was still resonating there.  “Everywhere in France the question is asked ‘did you hear the 369th Band?’  Or, more familiarly, ‘Lt. Europe’s Band?’” she wrote.  “This question was asked by French and Americans alike…we were being told how wonderful it was months after it had gone.”  The growing demand around the continent for American musicians playing this early form of jazz had perceptive European promoters and club-owners as well as their agents in New York scrambling to organize tours by authentic bands from the US.  In fact during the winter of 1919, the ODJB, composer Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra (SSO) and a band assembled by the drummer Louis Mitchell were already preparing to depart New York for extended engagements in London and Paris.



[JPL] Alpha List of Jazz Musicians/Jazz Experts Who Served in The Military

Jayne Sanchez jaynesanchez at yahoo.com 
Mon May 30 18:50:17 EDT 2011
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This list was compiled from all the emails today.  Might be nice to file away for next Memorial Show, Fourth of July, Flag Day, etc. 

It would be nice to get more specific with branch and where served.


Additon Collins, Jr. 
Al Hirt 
Albert Ayler  
Allen F. Smith  
Artie Shaw 
Billy Bang 
Cedar Walton 
Chet Baker 
Chico Hamilton 
Clark Terry 
Clint Eastwood 
Dave Brubeck 
Don Ellis 
Don Menza 
Donald Byrd 
Eddie Harris 
Ellis Marsalis 
Elvin Jones  
Frank Foster  
Frank J. Jackson 
Frank Lowe  
Glenn Miller 
Jae Sinnet 
Jim Hall 
Jimmy Heath 
Joe Henderson 
John Coltrane 
John Lewis, 
Johnny Pate 
Kenny "Klook" Clarke 
Lanny Morgan 
Lester Bowie  
Mel Powell 
Michael Carvin 
Nat Adderley 
Nat Peck 
Orrin Keepnews 
Peanuts Hucko 
Percy Heath 
Philly Joe Jones  
Randy Weston 
Ray McKinley 
Ron Gill 
Roscoe Mitchell  
Tony Bennett 
Trigger Alpert 
Von Freeman 
 


____________________
Jayne Sanchez
The Jazz Oasis
KCSM FM 91.1/kcsm.org
Mon/Wed evenings 6p-9p


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