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James Reese Europe (1881-1919) was a musician, composer, and musical entrepreneur who is credited with taking jazz out of the dance halls and into the concert halls of the United States and Europe.

Europe moved with his family to Capitol Hill in Washington around the age of nine. Here Joseph Douglass, grandson of Frederick Douglass, was Europe's first violin teacher. Europe also studied with musicians from the U.S. Marine Band, stationed in the neighborhood. As a young man he moved to New York, where he came in contact with popular styles, including Broadway and vaudeville. Despite the trend of incorporating African American music into symphonic forms, Europe insisted that the African American forms themselves deserved to be performed as concert music. In 1910 his 125-member Clef Club Symphony Orchestra was the first jazz band to play Carnegie Hall. For this reason he is credited with being the father of the contemporary jazz band and of jazz as America's classical music, according to his biographer Reid Badger. In addition Europe helped organize the Clef Club in New York City in 1910, a combination musician's union and booking agency.

Europe enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1916 and served in France with the 369th Infantry. While there he organized the 369th Infantry Band (the Harlem Hellfighters), which introduced the early syncopated American jazz to French audiences.

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