Editor, Webmaster: Phil Cartwright Editor@earlyjas.org
|Bringing Jazz to Europe
|Earlville Association for Ragtime Lovers Yearning for
Jazz Advancement and Socialization
Having fallen in love with traditional jazz in his early teens,
Brooke Anderson has maintained that love affair throughout
his life. He went from listener to activist as the co-founder of
the Central Ohio Hot Jazz Society and a founding board
member of the American Federation of Jazz Societies, and
managed their second annual meeting in Chicago in 1987.
These activities allowed him to meet and interact with many
jazz luminaries. As an amateur historian, he has taken a keen
interest in the history of jazz, and tied it in with his other
historical focus, World War One, with a special eye on the U.
S. Army’s role in introducing jazz to Europe.
Jazz, America’s original art form, has found its way into virtually every corner of the world. With
radio, television, commercially recorded music and the Internet it is available 24/7/365 to all
with the means to receive or purchase it. But, as jazz started and expanded, these sources were
not available, so its initial introduction – before the wide-spread popularity of 78 records - was
up close and personal: traveling musicians, including members of the U. S. Army.
1914 saw the beginning of The Great War, The War to End All Wars, or finally World War I. It
ended in 1918, a devastating event which caused the deaths of over 17 million souls, military and
civilian, and forever changed life. It was an event to change America as well, with four million
military personnel mobilized, as well as the services of organizations such as the Red Cross,
YMCA, American Field Service, Knights of Columbus and other charitable entities.
By 1914, and up until America’s entry into the War in 1917, jazz had started to prosper and
spread. Musicians started to leave New Orleans: Freddie Keppard showed up in Los Angeles,
Tom Brown’s Band From Dixieland was playing in Chicago. That band morphed into The
Original Dixieland Jass Band, which is credited with cutting the first jazz record in 1917:
“Livery Stable Blues” and “The Original Dixieland One-Step” on Victor.
New song titles appeared almost daily: “Darktown Strutters’ Ball,” “Hot House Rag,” “St. Louis
Blues,” “Yellow Dog Blues,” “Bill Bailey,” “Ballin’ The Jack,” “That’s A Plenty,” “Weary
Blues,” “Beale St. Blues,” “Tiger Rag,” “Shim-Me-Sha-Wabble,” and many other songs familiar
even today. In 1914 Prince’s Orchestra had a hit record of “Ballin’ the Jack;” in 1916 Wilbur C.
Sweatman released “Down Home Rag.”
African-American composers and artists were also featured: James Reese Europe and his Clef
Club Orchestra gave their first Carnegie Hall concert in 1912; Scott Joplin’s ragtime opera,
“Treemonisha,” was performed in 1915. Earlier, in 1908, New York City enjoyed Williams’ &
Walker’s production of “Bandana Land,” with music by Will Marion Cook; it ran for 89
performances at the Majestic Theater on Columbus Circle.
More and more Americans were hearing jazz and rag-time, and some musicians were even
traveling overseas, primarily to England. However, the war put a real damper on any meaningful
expansion of jazz, or what is often called proto-jazz, in Europe. Enter the U. S. Army.
On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson addressed congress and asked for a declaration of
war against Germany; on April 4, his request was granted. Many men and women of musical
talent were among those who volunteered or were drafted. Those people were familiar with the
new, popular styles of music in America and were skilled players or singers. Their collective
task was to win the war – and they did. With war’s end, the celebrations started, and so did the
There are several military aggregations that stand out at this point in time, and they are among
those credited with helping to introduce Europe to jazz. Many of us are well aware of the efforts
of the USO during WWII to entertain the troops. Less well-known is the major effort performed
in WWI Europe by America’s superstars of the day. That is another big story, but the troops so
entertained were certainly up-to-date with current popular music.
The recording industry had prospered, even in Europe, and some of these aggregations were able
to cut sides there. One of them – the subject of this article – was a group known on their French
recordings as “L’Orchestre Scrap Iron Jazzerinos,” which cut ten sides for Pathé and Victor in
Paris in late 1918 and 1919.
The Jazzerinos were all members of Base Hospital 21, located in Rouen, France. The hospital
was originally started by the Red Cross in the British sector, then turned over to the U.S. Medical
Corps when America entered the war. They were part of the U. S. II Corps, with the bulk of the
personnel from the Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, MO, although there were
also members of Lakeside Unit No. 4 from Cleveland, OH. The members of the band were
Arshav Nushan, drums, Edwin Dakin, violin, Syl Horn, banjo, Clarence Koch, trumpet, Russell
Hauslaib, C-melody sax, Clayton Thirkell, piano and Albert Angelotta, trombone. The
Clevelanders were: Hauslaib, Thirkell and Angelotta. A close look at the patch on Koch’s
shoulder confirms that they were attached to the II Corps. (photo)
The tunes they recorded were: “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning;” “Way Down in
Macon, Georgia;” “A.M.E.R.I.C.A. I Love You, My Yankee Land;” “The Pickanninie’s
Paradise;” “The Ragtime Volunteers Are Off to War;” “It’s A Hundred to One You’re In Love
“N Everything;” “Sinbad;” Everything Is Peaches Down in Georgia;” “How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em
Down on the Farm;” “Oh! So Pretty;” “Sweet Little Buttercup et My Mother’s Eyes;” “Oui, Oui,
Marie;” “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
The selections seem typical for the times, except for the “Dozens.” That is the first published
version of an old black insult game, and far closer to the jazz idiom than most of the others,
written and published in 1917 by Clarence M. Jones, a black composer and pianist and rarely
recorded. Two of the Jazzerino sides may be heard on the Red Hot Jazz website.
They were popular. The Jazzerinos stayed in Europe after the war ended, played for YMCAs all
over Europe, the Versailles Peace Conference, the Queen of Romania and appeared at the Casino
de Paris. Appearing with them were such notables as Maurice Chevalier, Bob Carleton,
composer of “Ja-Da” and John Boles, movie actor and singer. As one can imagine, entertainment
was the order of the day after four years of horror, and American Army talents such as the
Jazzerinos appeared often and to acclaim. They helped bring jazz to Europe.
Copyright Brooke Anderson 2014