Music and poetry are closely connected, and the relationship between them is explored in the variegated jazz poetry suite known as The Langston Hughes Project.
A 20th century poet and author, Langston Hughes was inspired to create his greatest work after serving as an official at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival. The result: a 12-part epic poem with musical cues from all the styles that influenced jazz.
Titled "Ask Your Mama," Hughes' masterpiece was set to be performed with famed jazz musicians Randy Weston and Charles Mingus, but the project was abandoned and never performed before Hughes died in 1967.
But all was not lost. Hughes' work was recently unearthed and revitalized by Ron McCurdy, musical director of The Langston Hughes Project at the University of Southern California.
McCurdy brings Hughes to life in "Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz" by incorporating live music, spoken word performances of Hughes' poetry and slideshow presentations depicting the life and art in Harlem that inspired Hughes' work.
McCurdy brings Hughes' "Ask Your Mama" to the Boise State University Special Events Center Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m. The performance is a montage of cultures and sounds derived from Hughes' explorations of jazz, poetry and the visual arts.
Music, from the blues to gospel to bebop and Latin cha-cha and West Indian calypso play a part in the performance, which is free to attend. For those worried about parking, that's free, too, at the Lincoln Avenue garage.