The Langston Hughes Project

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A Multimedia Concert Performance of Langston Hughes’ “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz” featuring the Ron McCurdy Quartet

The LSU Student Union Theater, in partnership with Campus Life, is proud to present The Langston Hughes Project on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The Langston Hughes Project is a multimedia concert performance of Langston Hughes’ kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite titled, Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz. This is Hughes’ homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. It is a twelve-part epic poem which Hughes scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop, progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha,” Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso, and African drumming – a creative masterwork left unperformed at his death.

Utilizing engaging videography, this concert performance links the words and music of Hughes’ poetry to topical images of Ask Your Mama’s people, places, events and to the visual artists Langston Hughes admired and/or collaborated with most closely over the course of his career including the African-inspired mural designs and cubist geometries of Aaron Douglas, the blues and jazz-inspired collages of Romare Bearden, the macabre grotesques of Meta Warrick Fuller, the rhythmic sculptural figurines, heads, and bas reliefs of Richmond Barthe, and the color-blocked cityscapes and black history series of Palmer Hayden and Jacob Lawrence. Together the words, sounds and images recreate a magical moment in cultural history, which bridges the Harlem renaissance, the post World War II beat writers’ coffeehouse jazz poetry world and the looming Black Arts performance explosion of the 1960’s.

The performance is brought to life by the extraordinary talents of the Ron McCurdy Quartet. Dr. Ronald C. McCurdy is professor of music in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California (USC) and is Past-President of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE). Prior to his appointment at USC he served as Director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC.

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Submit Your Poetry Slam Video for your chance to be opening act for the Langston Hughes Project! Winner will his/ her poem set to music composed by Dr. Ron McCurdy and will be played during the performance at the LSU Student Union Theater on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.