The performance, “Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz,” is Hughes’ homage in verse and music to the struggle for artistic and social freedom at home and abroad at the beginning of the 1960s. A 12-part epic poem, “Ask Your Mama” is scored with musical cues drawn from blues and Dixieland, gospel songs, boogie woogie, bebop, progressive jazz, Latin “cha cha,” Afro-Cuban mambo music, German lieder, Jewish liturgy, West Indian calypso, and African drumming.

This unique musical experience, which is free and open to the public,  also utilizes engaging videography during the performance to link the words and music of Hughes’ poetry with topical images of “Ask Your Mama’s” people, places, events, showcasing the visual artists Hughes admired and collaborated with over the course of his distinguished career. The words, images and music recreate a magical moment in cultural history, bridging the Harlem renaissance, the post-World War II beat writers’ coffeehouse jazz poetry world and the looming Black Arts performance explosion of the 1960s.

The performance is brought to life by the Ron McCurdy Quartet. McCurdy is professor of music in the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and is past-president of the International Association for Jazz Education. Additionally, he 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, Calif.

This event at USD is sponsored by the Beacom School of Business, Center for Teaching and Learning, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Fine Arts, Department of English, Office of Institutional Diversity, Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of the Dean of Students.

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