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James Reese Europe

During the first two decades of the twentieth century, James Reese Europe emerged as the most renowned bandleader of New York's entertainment world. Famed for his syncopated orchestral accompaniment of the dancing team of Irene and Vernon Castle, Europe became a major figure in promoting the popularity of social dancing and engendered a ragtime-based music that contributed to the emergence of jazz. During World War I, his 369th Infantry Band the “Hell Fighters,” was hailed by French and American troops as the finest ensemble in the Allied Army.

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