Ron McCurdy’s performance of
The Langston Hughes Project
A multimedia concert performance of Langston Hughes’ kaleidoscopic Jazz poem suite, “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.” (Hughes’ homage to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s).
By way of videography, this concert performance links the words and music of Hughes’ poetry to topical images of Ask Your Mama’s people, places, and events, and to the works of the visual artists Langston Hughes admired or collaborated with most closely over the course of his career. Together the words, sounds, and images recreate a magical moment in our 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 1960s.
an emotionally infused multimedia performance that is “intellectually stimulating and musically electrifying!” -Lillian U. Harder, Director at the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, Clemson University
our list of successful programming at these colleges– Skirball Cultural Center, Carnegie Hall, University of Nebraska, Arizona State University, Cal Poly University, University of Southern California.
your audience to the wonderful world of blues, gospel songs, bebop, Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, West Indian calypso, and African drumming!
the moment in our 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 1960s.
About The Langston Hughes Project
Jazz was a cosmopolitan metaphor for Langston Hughes, a force for cultural convergence beyond the reach of words, or the limits of any one language.
It called up visual for him as well, most pointedly the surrealistic techniques of painterly collage and of the film editing developed in this country in the 1930s and 40s, which condensed time and space, conveyed to the viewer a great array of information in short compass, and which offered the possibility of suggesting expanded states of consciousness, chaotic remembrances of past events or dreams — through montage. “To me,” Hughes wrote, “jazz is a montage of a dream deferred. A great big dream — yet to come — and always yet to become ultimately and finally true.”
Ask Your Mama was dedicated to Louis Armstrong, “the greatest horn blower of them all,” and to those of whatever hue or culture of origin who welcomed being immersed in the mysteries, rituals, names, and nuances of black life not just in America but in the Caribbean, in Latin America, in Europe and Africa during the years of anti-colonial upheaval abroad and the rising Freedom Movement here at home. Not only the youthful Martin Luther King, Jr. but the independence leaders of Guinea and Nigeria and Ghana and Kenya and the Congo fill the chants and refrains of Hughes’s epic poem.
Listen to the Music
Now Accepting Bookings
Educational/Community Outreach activities include:
Local Poetry Slam contest (winners have their poems set to music by Ron McCurdy, and they get to open the show), Numerous Master Classes and Workshops conducted by Dr. Ron McCurdy or Use of well-known local celebrity as guest narrator.
Beyond Category Productions
o. 212.268.6969 c. 917.686.3313