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A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe Hardcover – January 12, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (January 12, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019506044X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195060447
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this significant biography, Badger (The Great American Fair) examines the life and accomplishments of the black composer and conductor whose brilliant career was cut short at age 39 in a bizarre murder. Europe (1880-1919), who came from a poor family in Mobile, Ala., rose to a position of prominence, leading a number of black orchestras, including those that played for dancers Vernon and Irene Castle, who popularized professional social dancing. He also created and led the WWI Hellfighters, the all-black 15th Infantry Regiment Band, and organized black music associations like the Clef Club, devoted to furthering the careers of black musicians in New York City. Although little is known of Europe's personal life, Badger indicates he was an man of great dignity and pride. Largely forgotten after his death-he was stabbed by a drummer in his own orchestra-he has recently been rediscovered as a major figure in the history of black American music at its transition from ragtime to jazz. Includes a list of Europe's compositions and a discography. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

James Reese Europe was a pivotal composer-conductor who helped jazz's evolution away from ragtime--a significant-enough accomplishment, especially considering Reese's relatively short life (he was murdered at 39 in 1919). But Badger's engrossing biography proves that Europe was an American hero both in front of and far away from an orchestra. Badger's analyses of Europe's compositions are well-informed and suitably augmented with commentary from such notable collaborators as Eubie Blake. Badger shows, too, that Europe helped restyle modern dance through his collaborations with Vernon and Irene Castle; and he includes chapters on the Clef Club, one of the earliest African American musicians' unions, which Europe helped create. Europe's career took an incredible turn during World War I, an episode Badger carefully details: while the triumphs of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment are legendary, few know that Europe was the first African American officer to lead troops in combat during the war. A Life in Ragtime is one of the most important works of jazz scholarship to emerge in quite some time. Aaron Cohen

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Howe on February 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In a true sense of the word pioneer James Reese Europe, brought the only true American Art form to continental europe in the early part of the twentieth century. Reid Badger has captured the essence of a time in history that brought jazz and the cultural attitudes of black America to the international scene.
The very detailed text is a wonderful read, that gives you a sense of the push and pull of being an American Black living in the early 1900's. The book reads as if it were an adventure tale with all the action one could wish for.
The author has done a wonderful job of putting together facts and photos in a fast moving easy to understand academic work. His understanding of the contribution that Europe made to the growth of Jazz is clear and compeling. The details of the stature of the man that was Jim Europe reveals his human and sometimes non perfect personality.
Of particular interest to all should be his tenure as the Band Master of the famous 369th Infantry "Hell-Fighters" band during WWI in Europe.
This a must read for any student of jazz or military history and all who read about contributions to African-American society.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an a excellent book. However, I did not know about James Reese Europe prior to reading this book. I was researching African Americans in the military and discovered a James Reese Europe, Jr. Reid Badger does an excellent job not only in revealing the life of James Reese Europe Sr. He also provides a detail look at the times and places that Mr. Europe navigated throughout his shot life. Although this was a tragic time in the history of our country with the First World War. It was also one of the most dynamic and transformative. It does not matter where you begin, the Women's Movement, the struggle for Civil Rights, political upheaval in terms of The Russian Revolution, the rise of Fascism and in American mass political movements and two, not just one Great Migration. The Great Migration of African Americans from the South is well known. But there was also a Migration of White workers. James Europe played a significant role in these historical events event. He helped legitimize African American Music, While winning honors Defending his county. This is more than just a biography it is an epic drama well worth reading
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