The history-making encounter of Black and Puerto Rican musician-soldiers in 1917.
Extraordinary valor and musicianship made the all-black 369th Infantry of the New York Army National Guard — aka Harlem Hellfighters— the most celebrated regiment of the First World War era. Now firmly established as a point of pride in African American history, it is less known that its ranks also included 16 illustrious musician-soldiers from Puerto Rico.
In Pregones/PRTT’s musical production, the Hellfighters are a motley and multicolor crew who tumble on stage trailing a marvelous ruckus of ragtime jazz, military bugle calls, and Latin rhythm. Among them are none other than legends James Reese Europe and Rafael Hernández —two musical giants of the 20th Century— always eager to relive the adventures that brought them together in the fabled summer of 1917.
Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat is one of three original works developed by Pregones/PRTT in the 2000s to rescue important but insufficiently known episodes in Puerto Rican history.
Photos from Pregones/PRTT’s 2010 premiere and 2013 concert staging of Harlem Hellfighters on a Latin Beat by Marisol Díaz-Gordon.