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"The Langston Hughes Project" Celebrates Black History Month

The Intercultural Affairs office at Pepperdine, in partnership with the Black Student Association, will host a multimedia performance of poet Langston Hughes’ jazz poems at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 2, at Malibu's Smothers Theatre.

The Ron McCurdy Quartet will present a multimedia concert featuring Langston Hughes' kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite titled "Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz."

The 12-part poem suite combines spoken word, music, and video in Hughes' commentary on the struggle for freedom and equality in the 1960s.

Hughes created "Ask Your Mama" in the aftermath of his participation as an official for the five-day Newport Jazz Festival of July 1960. The musical scoring was designed to serve not as mere background, but to forge a conversation and a commentary with the music. The work was in the planning stages and was left unperformed at the time of Hughes' death in 1967, but has been brought to life by the Ron McCurdy Quartet.

McCurdy is a consultant to the Grammy Foundation educational programs, including serving as director of the national Grammy vocal-jazz ensemble and combo. He is the director of the Walt Disney All-American College Band in Anaheim, Calif., and has been affiliated with the Walt Disney Company for more than 20 years. McCurdy is a performing artist for the Yamaha International Corporation. Ronald McCurdy is a professor of music in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and a past president of the International Association for Jazz Education. He previously served as director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC, and as a professor of music and chair of the Afro-African American Studies Department and director of jazz studies at the University of Minnesota. In 1997, McCurdy was a visiting professor of music at Maria-Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland.

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