'Member that project w/ devils and the alphabet?* We're at the letter j. Brings us to James Reese Europe. In the face of the re-discovery of Europe, we must just pause to observe a few convergences.
There's the pre-war stuff: hyenawild instrumentation, big groove, yowling bandleader, sexy dancers and an explosive mix of disciplined bandsmanship on the one hand and dionysian improvisation on the other. They've been telling us that we gotta do a re-eval on this period for decades now. You lissen to these few slabs, you can hear the shout: bring us more, bring us more. What's going on? There's a riot going on.
Then there's the Hellfighters stuff. It brings out the devils, too. It's a cauldron of entendres, doubling over. See those notes flying everywhichway? That's cause the boys in the band gointa free the minds of thousands of Europeans who've been waiting for this kind of liberation for, well, maybe centuries.
Get to this, from 1919:
They call it "Jazzola!"
Nobody knows its origination,
It's just a dance full of syncopation,
And if you crave a new sensation,
Come with me,
You will see,
Strange sights from the land of harmony!
Old folks and young folks cry for Jazzola!
It's like a tonic, take it with each meal;
How good you'll feel!
My old granddad heard the news,
Dropped his cane for dancing shoes!
The whole world's going crazy 'bout Jazzola!
Just take your sweetie sweet
Out for a jazzy treat,
And she'll love you like she never did before;
No need of fine wine,
You'll have a much better time,
Get those jazz musicians,
To play it o'er and o'er!
More gangsta sh*t, straight outta the second decade of the 20th c. The second verse is almost Snoop Dogg in it's pleasure principle, and you gotta love how the spirit of jesgrew, one of the real devils @ the crossroads, occupies the first.
It's time to come and get to this short clip for your lissening pleasure.
- James Reese Europe's High Society Orchestra, "Down Home Rag." Do you feel better?
- Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighter's Band, "That's Got 'Em."
- Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighter's Band, "Jazzola."
Our purpose is not to be writing history; we are not wishing to bring back the past. We are talking about what's going on. But sometimes a tear or two falls from our historiographical third eye and leaks into these jottings. From that source, we drop a couple more bullets into the clip, just to make a point. And when we do, voila, the political reappears -- strange sights from the land of harmony.
- Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, "Journey Towards Freedom." Could be James Reese Europe's greatest follower, and without doubt one of our heroes.
- Funkadelic, "Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow." George Clinton always makes himself relevant w/out further ink.
† There is so much lore in these two words that wikiologists can only leave a stub behind.