Jason Moran’s Harlem Hellfighters

On New Year’s Day 1918, James Reese Europe – an iconic figure in the evolution of African-American music – landed in Brest with the Harlem Hellfighters. As well as their achievements in combat, Europe’s crack military music ensemble popularised the new spirit of jazz to a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture. And this is but the beginning of a story that continues to fascinate and intrigue.

A century later, composer, pianist and visual artist Jason Moran – himself a major and innovative force in today’s jazz – celebrates the legacy of a hero of black music, in a multi-dimensioned reflection on the impact of the African-American presence in Europe in the closing years of WW1, and its resonance both in Europe and in the USA, with contributions from John Akomfrah, and visual materials from acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young, in a new project specially commissioned for the final year of 14-18 NOW. The Harlem Hellfighters story provides the genesis of the extraordinary impact of African-American music on Europe and the Americas, and a century of profound cultural and political change that is still evolving.

Jason Moran, piano,
Daryl Harper, clarinet
Immanuel Wilkins, alto saxophone
Brian Settles, tenor saxophone
David Adewumi, trumpet
Chris Bates, trombone
Reginald Cyntje, tuba and bass trombone
Jose Davila, tuba
Tarus Mateen, bass
Nasheet Waits, drums

Jason Moran headshot

Jason Moran’s Harlem Hellfighters in Amherst

The Hellfighters perform at Amherst College September 23, 2022

Jason Moran’s Harlem Hellfighters in Texas

The Hellfighters perform at University of Texas at Austin and at Da Camera of Houston. November 5 and 6, 2021.

Jason Moran’s Harlem Hellfighters on Tour: Stanford, Big Ears, SF Jazz

The Hellfighters perform at Stanford University before the tour is cut short by the pandemic. January – May, 2020.

Jason Moran’s Harlem Hellfighters at the Kennedy Center

Darryl performs in the U. S. premiere of Jason Moran’s meditation on the life, combat service, and legacy of American musician and jazz composer James Reese Europe. December 8, 2018.