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.
About Ronald C. McCurdy, Ph. D.
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.
He has released two CDs. The first one titled, “Once Again for the First Time” on the INNOVA label and the most recent CD titled “April In Paris” with his vocal funk group, The Ron McCurdy Collective. He is co-author of a vocal jazz improvisation series titled “Approaching the Standards”, published by Warner Bros.
Dr. McCurdy is the director of the National Grammy Vocal Jazz Ensemble and combo, and also serves as Director of the Walt Disney All-American College Band in Anaheim, CA.
Dr. McCurdy has performed with a host of legendary jazz artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Joe Williams, Rosemary Clooney, Terence Blanchard, Leslie Uggams, Arturo Sandoval, Diane Schuur, Ramsey Lewis, Mercer Ellington, Dr. Billy Taylor, Maynard Ferguson, Lionel Hampton, and Dianne Reeves. He is a performing artist for the Yamaha International Corporation.
For interviews and bookings please email email@example.com
“The Langston Hughes Project attracted the most diverse audience I have ever seen on our campus. Young and old, black and white, students and teachers, university administrators and community members all enjoyed the celebration of the artistic accomplishments and contributions of black Americans. In addition to being a fine musical performance and an exquisite display of African-American art and poetry, the Langston Hughes Project fosters an atmosphere of racial reconciliation and understanding.”
Dr. Peter Madsen, Professor of Music
University of Nebraska-Omaha
Langston Hughes Project
Performance Schedule 2021
Texas State University February 1
Texas Women’s University February 3
North Central College February 4
South Mountain Community College February 9
Scottsdale Community College February 10
Lone Star- North Harris Campus February 11
Culver City High School February 16
North Tech College February 17
Belmont College February 18
Phoenix College February 18
Mesa College February 20
Gateway College February 22
Glendale College February 24
Concordia College February 25
University of Maryland February 26
Collins Center March 1
Shea Center March 3
Arizona State University March 18
University of Tennessee-Knoxville March 24
Texas Tech University March 25
Clayton County School District April 23
Reviews & Press
“…a raging, inspired revival that would make Langston Hughes proud…Ask Your Mama is as relevant today as it was in 1960.”The Guardian
The optimism of Langston Hughes was exposed to us in “Ask Your Mama” as we discovered the people, places
Wow! What an amazing show tonight – it got a standing ovation. Not only are Mr. Hughes’s words so timely still, the music was amazing and the visuals on the screen quite powerful and insightful. Not to mention parallel alignment with the mission statement. Wish we could have done a second show.Teresa Enroth
The Langston Hughes Project was a tremendous success at Clemson University. Dr. Ron McCurdy and colleagues have created an amazing multi-media performance of Langston Hughes: Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz. The use of the spoken word, visually stimulating images from the Harlem Renaissance, and great music performed by their jazz quartet, made for a fantastic celebration of life and creativity. Dr. McCurdy’s masterclass for Clemson’s jazz ensemble was definitely a highlight of the students’ musical experiences this year, for he is an experienced educator who knows how to communicate with students. I highly recommend this project to anyone who wants an intellectually stimulating and musically electrifying performance.Lillian U. Harder
“The Langston Hughes Project” blends passionate spoken word and original soul, swing and gospel music composed by McCurdy with a vivid visual backdrop featuring the works of African American visual artists who Langston Hughes either admired or collaborated with.
“…the evening’s focus was the imaginative intelligence, rhythmic magic and contemporary relevance of Hughes’s jazz-infused poetry which had been so warmly brought to life. The performance won its ovation, and the show deserves a run.”
Ron McCurdy and the Langston Hughes Project presented a polished and vibrant program celebrating the poetry of Langston Hughes and the richness of the Harlem Renaissance! The music was phenomenal and the spoken word powerful. The audience was completely engaged and left the performance feeling energized and uplifted!Jennifer Phillips
“Although interweaving of verse, music
The Langston Hughes Project is a truly magnificent event. It combines quality entertainment, with key educational information. It is uplifting and truly special, and is attractive and valued by all segments of the community. A wonderful event that we definitely plan on bringing back to our Cal Poly community.Dr. Ken Barclay
“…Ron McCurdy’s setting of the text…brought the house down at the Barbican on the penultimate night of the London Jazz Festival…his aim was to ‘spread the gospel of Langston Hughes’ and he certainly achieved that. He had a capacity crowd hanging on the poet’s every word and on their feet, cheering themselves hoarse
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