The University of Texas at Austin

Jason Moran and the Harlem Hellfighters
James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin

more information  Know Before You Go

Part of TPA’s 40th Anniversary Season

Presented in partnership with KUTX-FM

Pianist, composer, bandleader, and MacArthur “Genius” recipient Jason Moran grew up in Texas and has become established as one of the most original voices on today’s jazz scene.  Moran is active not only in music, but also in visual arts, film, performance art, theatre and dance – leading Rolling Stone to say that “Jason Moran is shaping up to be the most provocative thinker in current jazz.”  Moran makes his Texas Performing Arts debut with his acclaimed meditation on the life and legacy of early jazz pioneer James Reese Europe.

On New Year’s Day 1918, James Reese Europe, an iconic figure in the evolution of African-American music, landed in France with the Harlem Hellfighters.  This crack military music ensemble popularized the new spirit of jazz to a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture.  

More than a century later Jason Moran celebrates this hero of black music through a highly personal reflection on the impact of the African-American presence in Europe in the closing years of World War I, and its resonance abroad and in the US. The performance features Moran’s celebrated Bandwagon trio complemented by a seven-piece horn section, contributions from artist/director/screenwriter John Akomfrah, and visual materials from acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young.

We already know that Jason Moran is stunningly and profoundly original, even in his treatment of existing material…Knowing it doesn’t prepare one for the stark, sublime beauty of James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin.

The Washington Post