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The Wire's Clarke Peters uncovers the stories of black musicians in Europe, from the birth of recorded sound to the height of the jazz age.

The Wire's Clarke Peters draws on a rare collection of archive recordings to explore a forgotten musical history.

Received wisdom has it that black popular music arrived in Europe with the Empire Windrush in 1948, but Clarke brings us black sounds recorded in Europe from as far back as 1900.

Focusing on early commercial discs made in the recording studios of London, Paris and Berlin, we hear from dozens of different performers, including African American travelling entertainers, traditional African musicians, black British classical composers and more.

Episode 2 - 1910-1920
Clarke explores the music of black Europe at the time of the First World War. The sounds of what would become jazz start to emerge, including African American banjo bands who entertained London high society, and the military music of Harlem bandleader James Reese Europe which enthralled France. The programme also includes music by captured African Prisoners of War, recorded in camps across Germany.

Much of the music in this series is drawn from Black Europe, a vast boxset issued by Bear Family Records and documenting the sounds of the era.
With readings by Paterson Joseph.

Produced by Tom Woolfenden
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Boxing Day 2017 21:30

Music Played

  • Louis Mitchell

    Une Femme Qui Passe

  • Die Phonographische Kommission

    Bornu-Lieder

  • James Reese Europe's Society Orchestra

    Memphis Blues

  • Ciro's Club Coon Orchestra

    The Chinese Blues

  • Down Home Boys

    Down Home Rag

  • The Versatile Four

    Down Home Rag

  • The Versatile Four

    Araby

  • Ciro's Club Coon Orchestra

    The St. Louis Blues

  • The Versatile Four

    13 Circus Day In Dixie-36

  • Die Phonographische Kommission

    Abschiedslied (PK 1541)

  • Die Phonographische Kommission

    3 Lieder PK 1111

  • Die Phonographische Kommission

    3 Lieder In Suaheli-Sprache

  • Die Phonographische Kommission

    3 Bornu-Lieder

  • Die Phonographische Kommission

    Ruderlied

  • ALBERT KUJABO

    Pfeifen, Trommellied, Erzählung und Zahlen

  • SAVOY QUARTET

    Over There!

  • James Reese Europe's Society Orchestra

    Memphis Blues

  • James Reese Europe's Society Orchestra

    How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (vocal by Noble Sissle)

  • Clarence Williams’ Blue Five

    Wild Cat Blues

  • Marion Harris

    I Ain't Got Nobody

  • Fisk Jubilee Singers

    Swing Low Sweet Chariot

  • Original Dixieland Jazz Band

    TIGER RAG

  • James Reese Europe's Society Orchestra

    St. Louis Blues

  • Louis Mitchell

    Japanese Lanterns Blues

  • Django Reinhardt

    Avalon

Broadcasts

  • Boxing Day 2017 09:00
  • Boxing Day 2017 21:30