Jazz Expert Presents The Langston Hughes Project

Dr. Ron McCurdy of the University of Southern California will present a multimedia project featuring video, spoken word, and jazz music.
Posted on September 19th, 2018 by

Ron McCurdy

Gustavus Adolphus College will have the privilege of hosting Dr. Ron McCurdy, a professor of music at the University of Southern California, for a multimedia concert called The Langston Hughes Project on Wednesday, September 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Bjorling Hall. Through video, spoken word, and jazz music, McCurdy brings to life Langston Hughes’ epic poem, “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz.”

Before the concert, McCurdy will spend the day on the Gustavus campus interacting with students in multiple English and theatre classes and spending time in the Diversity Center.

“It is most appropriate that Mr. McCurdy, an esteemed Jazz artist and creative who has contributed so much to our own homegrown American art form, jazz, would come to Gustavus and offer his words and music dedicated to the works of one of the 20th century’s most important poets, Langston Hughes,” English professor Phil Bryant said.

“Ask Your Mama” is a masterpiece written by Hughes and dedicated to famed jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong. Hughes used influences from gospel songs, Latin music, blues, progressive jazz, and many other areas of music to create this piece to portray his struggle for freedom in the 1960s, but the piece was left unfinished at the time of Hughes’ death in 1967.

McCurdy put together The Langston Hughes Project in order to display a great work of art by an iconic jazz poet. This project brings to life the influential music of Hughes and sheds new light on a poem left unfinished.

“It will be a great opportunity for students to learn about Hughes, American jazz and poetry, African-American culture and history, and why all of the above is what makes America truly great,” added Bryant.

McCurdy has been in high demand for his extensive jazz knowledge. Besides his background as a teacher and artist at universities across the country, he is also a consultant for both the Grammy Foundation and for the Walt Disney All-American Summer College Jazz Ensemble. McCurdy was formerly the president of the International Association for Jazz Education and has had multiple publications, including his book Meet the Great Jazz Legend.

The multimedia concert is free and open to the public and held in Bjorling Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19. The Langston Hughes Project is brought to Gustavus through the partnership between the Diversity Center and the Office of Fine Arts Programs.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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