Farewell, Whitney Houston; Randy Weston at Tribeca
Ron Scott | 3/28/2012, 3:24 p.m.
Randy Weston African Rhythms Orchestra will celebrate James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters on Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center/Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., at 8 p.m.
Internationally renowned pianist, composer and bandleader Randy Weston will celebrate the music of Europe, a finale to the month celebrating the Harlem Hellfighters.
African Rhythms Orchestra will include saxophonist T.K. Blue, percussionist Neil Clarke, bassist Alex Blake, tuba player Howard Johnson, drummer Vincent Ector, Ayodele Ankhtawi Maakheru on banjo and trombonist Robert Trowers.
Lt. Europe, of the 369th Infantry Regiment, was an American ragtime and early jazz bandleader, arranger and composer. In 1918, Europe made military and music history by being the first African-American to lead troops into battle during World War I and to spread jazz throughout continental Europe.
In 1910, Reese organized the Clef Club, a society for African-Americans in the music industry. In 1912, the club made history when it played a concert at Carnegie Hall for the benefit of the Colored Music Settlement School. The Clef Club Orchestra was the first band to play jazz at Carnegie Hall. It is difficult to overstate the importance of that event in the history of jazz, as it was 12 years before the Paul Whiteman and George Gershwin concert at Aeolian Hall and 26 years before Benny Goodman's famed concert at Carnegie Hall.
The Clef Club played music written solely by Black composers, including Harry T. Burleigh and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Reese's orchestra also included Will Marion Cook, who had not been in Carnegie Hall since his own performance as a solo violinist in 1896.
Europe created the New Amsterdam Musical Association in 1904. It was founded at the time the American Federation of Musicians Local 310 (now Local 802) did not admit minority musicians. It is the oldest Black musical organization in the country, located and still operating at its original address, 107 W. 130th St. in Harlem.
Weston will be playing original tunes as well as compositions by Europe, who died in 1919. Tickets are $35 to $55.