As National Poetry Month comes to a close we at WUOL wanted to share a playlist that pays tribute to a poet who has been moving us through music this year: Langston Hughes.

Hughes, a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, is probably the single most celebrated jazz poet. You can hear the implied musicality to his poetry in his own slow jam of Testament with Charles Mingus and Leonard Feather. As he recites the words Hughes savors every moment as if the sentences are lines of music.

And indeed, where Hughes is concerned the poetry itself is jazz and musical results are inevitable. In collaborations with Margaret Bonds, and settings by Florence Price the text serves as brilliant inspiration. For Valerie Coleman and Nina Simone alike, the words gets expressed in energetic musical lines. Interpretations are as recent as a brand new release by pianist Lara Downes.

Colleen is the Music Director and host for 90.5 WUOL