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Ask Your Mama is just one occasion in Jessye Norman"s festival called Honor!, a celebration of Africa-Amerihave the right to culture at Carnegie Hall.

You are watching: Ask your mama 12 moods for jazz

Carol Friedguy

Hear the Music

Hear a sneak-pevaluation section of "Ask Your Mama" in this demo variation arranged by composer Laura Karpguy.Singers: Medusa and also Tammy Jenkins.


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For many of this month, Carnegie Hall has actually been presenting a festival called Honor! Curated by soprano Jessye Norguy, it showcases the cultural heritage of African-Amerideserve to musicians. Normale takes the Carnegie stage Monday night, joined by hip-hop artists The Roots and the Orchestra of St. Luke"s to perform the civilization premiere of a new item by composer Laura Karpmale dubbed Ask Your Mama, featuring the poeattempt of Langston Hughes.



Langston Hughes contained musical instructions in the margins of his poem Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, written in 1960. Schomburg Center for Research in Babsence Culture, New York Public Library hide caption


Karpguy was going through a booksave when she stumbled onto a little-well-known epic poem by Hughes, the poet laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. It was dubbed Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz.

"What attracted me to the piece was not just that it was composed by Langston Hughes, who I think is one of the a lot of brilliant poets who ever before lived," Karpmale claims, "yet in the right-hand also margins of the poem, Langston says exactly just how the music must sound."

Hughes" Eclectic Soundtrack

Hughes created the sprawling poem late in his career, in 1960, while he was attfinishing the Newport Jazz Festival. He had actually music in his ears, and dictated a sort of soundtrack in the margins of the poem that consisted of every little thing from blues to German lieder to gospel and also Latin music, all together.


"One of the poems is called The Gospel Cha-Cha," Norman says, "where there"s type of African-Amerihave the right to gospel music, but also the music that one would certainly have actually heard that was coming up from the Caribbean."

Annie Dorsen, who directed Passing Strange on Broadmethod, is overseeing the physical presentation of Ask Your Mama, which will encompass video. She states Hughes was paying homage to generations of African-Amerideserve to artists, while exploring via create.

"You recognize, he"s taking in Charlie Parker, he"s taking in bebop, he"s absorbing sort of developments from even more radical artists," Dorsen says. "And he"s exploring a little bit, late in life, wondering what it all indicates, what his life as an artist has actually intended, how he fits right into the marketplace, just how he fits right into babsence history and just how he fits into American background."

A Maximalist Score

Karpmale has actually composed somepoint of a maximalist score for Ask Your Mama. She"s using hip-hop, a full classical orchestra and also jazz instruments. She also has two musicians sitting at key-boards, triggering samples from laptops.

"When Langston asks for old-time, standard 12-bar blues, rather of making the orchestra carry out that — which constantly sounds not-quite-appropriate, to be type — I actually create the sample of Cab Callomethod doing "St. James Infirmary Blues," " Karpman says.

Hughes has a visibility throughout the item. Karpguy found an old recording of the poet reading his poem. She digitized it and also then sampled from it, as well.

Norman states she views Hughes" poem as a microcosm of the entire festival.

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"All of these names, every one of this music that Langston Hughes heard in Harlem at the moment, the more recent immigrants from Latin America and world coming to this nation from Africa that were making their music that he was hearing," Norguy says. "All of this is indicated in the margins of the poem. And every one of this Laura has been able to carry to this piece."

After Carnegie Hall, Ask Your Mama is scheducaused be perdeveloped with Normale at the Hollyhardwood Bowl, as well as through the Baltieven more Symphony Orchestra.