Too Much Mustard

Too Much Mustard

by James Reese EuropeJames Reese Europe


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James Reese Europe and Arthur Pryor were among the first bandleaders ever to record ragtime and syncopated dance music. In what appears to be the only collection devoted exclusively to the two of them, Saydisc's Too Much Mustard combines selected examples from their respective discographies, covering a 12-year timeline beginning in 1907. Europe was the most promising musical director of his generation, and his sudden death in 1919 dealt a severe if momentary blow to the rapidly evolving African American cultural environment along the East Coast. Pryor was a virtuoso trombonist and a prolific ragtime composer. He served for years as John Philip Sousa's right-hand man, so much so that according to historians, most of Sousa's recording ensembles were actually conducted by Pryor. The first seven titles on the Saydisc album were performed in 1919 by Lieutenant Jim Europe's 369th U.S. Infantry Hellfighters Band, with the exception of Cecil Macklin's "Too Much Mustard (Tres Moutarde)" and Wilbur Sweatman's "Down Home Rag," which were played by Jim Europe's Society Orchestra on December 29, 1913. On that date, Europe recorded an Argentine tango and a Brazilian maxixe, which unfortunately are not included here. The 1919 recordings constitute thrilling evidence of what Jim Europe's all-black musical regiment sounded like in the streets of Paris at the close of the First World War. Pryor's portion of the album is equally rewarding. In addition to providing rare opportunities to absorb and enjoy little-known delights like J. Bodewalt Lampe's "Georgia Sunset Cake-Walk," the brightest moments in the home stretch of this collection are "The African 400" by C. Luckyeth Roberts and Pryor's own zingy masterpiece the "Canhanibalmo Rag."

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