On January 21st University Program Board hosted a jazz trio—the Langston Hughes Project, lead by trumpetist, Dr. Ron McCury. Blue light eliminated the trio on stage in Wilson Hall as the performers filled the room with their musical creation. In the background of the group, was a black and white image of Langston Hughes, with the title of his poem, “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz”.
The group empowered their audience with a blend of music, song, poetry, and video combining to form McCury’s own colorful interpretation of the famous Langston Hughes poem “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz”.
The concept of the show was born at the University of Minnesota, when McCurdy was asked to create a musical piece for the opening of a new art museum, with the Harlem Renaissance theme. Based on a unit he was teaching in class, he threw together what would become known as the Langston Hughes Project. Without rehearsal, and only a dinky slide projector, he and a group of students performed their first show. McCurdy and his group realized that “they had something special.” He re-worked the idea, and polished it into a performance that eventually reached Carnegie Hall—and later, an eager audience and JMU.
McCury revealed in a Q&A session after the show that his passion lies in transforming scholarly pieces, such as Langston Hughes’ ‘Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz’, into art. The show left the listener feeling the breadth of the social situation of the 1960s, and, as McCurdy put it, “wanting to run to the library to grab a book on the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes.” McCury and his trio are to perform next in Texas.
For more interesting UPB events visit their website at http://upb.jmu.edu