Saxophonist-composer Benjamin Boone’s 2018/2019 Origin Records “Poetry of Jazz” releases, collaborations with the late U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient Philip Levine, were recognized as milestone poetry/music projects. Voted the #3 “Best Album of 2018” in DownBeat Magazine’s 83rd annual Readers Poll (just behind Chick Corea and Wynton Marsalis), praised in leading musical and literary publications, and featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” The Poetry of Jazz established Boone as one of the most compelling voices among contemporary artists exploring the intersections between poetry and music.
He builds upon this foundation on his 2020 Origin Records album, The Poets Are Gathering, encompasses nearly a dozen writers exploring themes that thrum with the urgency of a protest march. The poetry addresses ripped-from- the-front-page topics such as police murder, racism, immigration, poverty, inequity, and mass shootings. As Gene Seymour writes in his extensive liner notes, “There are incantations and supplications to be found here. Also: elegies and headlines, howls and mantras, reveries and outbursts. They instruct and affirm.”
Poets include Tyehimba Jess (Pulitzer Prize), Patricia Smith (LA Times Book Award/National Slam Poetry Champion), Juan Felipe Herrera (U.S. Poet Laureate), and Edward Hirsch (MacArthur)—intertwining their work with that of 20 musicians, including pianist Kenny Werner, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Corcoran Holt, and drummer Ari Hoenig.