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