“THEY RUNG MY BELL TO ASK ME
COULD I RECOMMEND A MAID.
I SAID, YES, YOUR MAMA.”
Langston Hughes, Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, Alfred A. Knopf, 1961
We’re celebrating Langston Hughes (b. February 1, 1902, Joplin, Missouri–d. May 22, 1967, New York City) on the date of his birth with an evening of original music and poetry, by Hughes and by Bay Area composer/poet/bandleader Lewis Jordan — whose recorded engagement with Hughes’s work stretches back to 1983 and “The Ballad of the Landlord” with the groundbreaking band United Front, and their concert recording Live in Berlin, on the world-renowned German FMP (Free Music Production) label. More recently, Jordan revisits “The Ballad of the Landlord” 30 years later with his band Music at Large, video-recorded at San Francisco’s Bird & Beckett Books & Records. This event is free and open to the public.
Langston Hughes appeared with The Poetry Center on December 5, 1958, on a rare West Coast visit. He read his poetry while narrating his life as a Black American poet, at the San Francisco Museum of Art (its pre-SFMOMA, Van Ness Avenue location). Streaming audio and download here.
Lewis Jordan is a saxophonist and poet, playing to scale walls, working to build bridges. He explores forms of creativity and expression through improvisational and interdisciplinary approaches, working with artists from a range of practices: dance, poetry, theater and music, presented in his Music at Large series. He continues to seek performers who strive to honor their traditions while speaking to the urgency of the present. His influences stretch from the music of Leadbelly, Mingus and Ayler to the words of Cummings, Hughes and Krishnamurti. He brings the transformative nature of human collaboration to all his projects.
For this Langston Hughes celebration, he will be joined by Ollen Erich Hunt on bass and Jimmy Biala on percussion, both collaborators on his recent CD, Lewis Jordan and Music at Large: this is where i came in.