A Life in Ragtime: A Biography of James Reese Europe


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.43 X 9.51 X 1.22 inches | 1.48 pounds

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About the Author

Reid Badger is Professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. His books include The Great American Fair: The World's Columbian Exposition and American Culture.


"A definitive, long overdue, and fully documented chronicle of the famous but--until now--frustratingly unknown musical soldier."--Notes

"Through meticulous research and passionate narrative, Reid Badger's extraordinary book retrieves James Reese Europe from the dim fringes of American music history and thrusts him into the brilliant center of the theatre, pop, and classical African-American music world which he guided and shaped during the critical twenty years between Joplin and Armstrong. A charismatic conductor of strumming and choraling classical 'Negro Orchestras', Europe went on to form the first hot dance bands, interpreting the African American rhythms and movements that fueled the first American dance craze. Just before his untimely death at age 39, Europe was introducing the latest African-American music called jazz to the amazement of musicians and the public of France during the first World War. A book no American music buff or scholar can be without."--Maurice Peress, symphony conductor and musicologist

"A comprehensively researched and superbly narrated biography of one of the most prominent figures responsible for changes in American taste in folk-derived popular music during the first two decades--changes that by the mid-thirties had already begun to produce what (by mid century) added up to a body of jazz masterworks that qualified not only as fine art but also as the music most representative of contemporary sound and movement."--Albert Murray, author of The Omni-Americans: Black Experience and American Culture and Stomping the Blues

"One of the most important works of jazz scholarship to emerge in quite some time."--Booklist

"Badger's lucid narrative writing style not only captures in detail the fascinating saga of Europe's life--it also engulfs Europe in the culture and communities in which he lived and worked."--San Francisco Examiner

"This compendious biography by Reid Badger...should go a long ways toward restoring Europe to his rightful place in the distinctive African-American--and thus in the definitively American--musical pantheon....This book does the world a service by bringing Europe's name to prominence..."--The Washington Post Book World

"Vividly brings to life an important but hitherto obscure figure in the transition from ragtime to jazz. Badger's biography explains the scope and nature of Jim Europe's achievements and helps us better understand how African-American jazz and blues exploded on the national scene in the 1920s."--Lingua Franca