When it comes to the history of American music possibly the most forgotten name is James Reese Europe. Born in 1881 to freed slaves, Reese is one of the founders of what we call American music. Before this time period we had American literature and art, but not really anything uniquely American in music for the masses. Musicians mostly played classical music out of Europe or American composers writing the same style as European music. James Reese Europe being black was banned from playing classical music, so instead developed his own sound. His music was a mashup of White and Black music that became a forerunner for Jazz. During WWI, his military band the Harlem Hell Fighters introduced the French to jazz and for the first time the world recognized America as having their own sound.