In the past few years we have read, heard and viewed quite a lot about the 369th Infantry Regiment, originally a New York National Guard Unit, which was the first non-regular army formation in France. These brave African Americans served under French command and amassed numerous honors. However at the time they might have been more well-known in France for their incredible band, which is credited with bringing jazz to Europe.
In 2016 a project was launched to recreate this band as a centennial project. Under the leadership of Dr. Isrea Butler, Director of Bands at North Carolina Central University, Edward Green of the Washington Redskins, Kelvin Washington and H.B. Barnum, the former arranger for Aretha Franklin, and underwritten by the Coca Cola Corporation, seventy-five musicians were selected from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in twelve states and the District of Columbia. Read more about the project and the musicians here.
Garbed in replica WW1 uniforms, these men have been performing in the 369th Band style for two years.
If you attended the events in D.C. this past weekend you had the opportunity to hear these gifted musicians four times. If you weren’t there you can view their 11/12 performance at Kennedy Center here. In addition to the band, there is commentary by the grandson of James R. Europe , the Bandmaster of the 369th and Noble Sissle Jr. the son of the Drum Major and lead vocalist.