Press

Media Honors and Quotes

  • #3 “Jazz Album of the Year” in Downbeat Magazine’s 83rd Annual Readers’ Poll (just behind #1 Chick Corea and #2 Wynton Marsalis) for The Poetry of Jazz.
  • Downbeat Magazine’s “Best Albums of 2018” included The Poetry of Jazz.
  • NPR “All Things Considered” 5-minute feature on The Poetry of Jazz, included in “This Week’s Best Stories,” March 20, 2018.
  • DownBeat Magazine’s “HotBox” column featured The Poets Are Gathering, January 2021.
  • The Paris Review, “Staff Pick,” The Poetry of Jazz, March 23, 2018.
  • Amazon #1 Best Seller in “Hot New Releases” for The Poetry of Jazz (over 10 weeks), and also The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two,  Joy, and The Poets Are Gathering.]
  • #3 “Best Alto Saxophonist,” 42nd Annual Jazz Station Awards.
  • #5 “Best Instrumental Group,” Benjamin Boone with the Ghana Jazz Collective (Origin Records’ Joy), 42nd Annual Jazz Station Awards.
  • Amazon #1 Best Seller for numerous weeks for The Poetry of Jazz, The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two, Joy, and The Poets Are Gathering.
  • 8,500 word literary essay on the manner in which Benjamin Boone and Philp Levine intertwined poetry and jazz in Blackbird Journal of Literature, “Body Swayed to Music: Levine among the Musicians,” Fall 2018, Vol. 17, No. 2, by T.R. Hummer.
  • In depth essay and interview about Boone’s experiences in Ghana and the making of the album JOY, “Benjamin Boone: The Poetry of Jazz and the Ghanaian Connection,” ALL ABOUT JAZZ, by UK scholar Duncan Heining
  • Top 100 on JazzWeek radio charts for over a month for the albums The Poetry of Jazz, The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two, Joy, and several weeks for The Poets Are Gathering.

Praise for 2018’s “The Poetry of Jazz,” Origin Records (82754)

  • An album of unmistakable importance – one could say of historic importance.” ~ UK Vibe Magazine, 5/5 review, April 21, 2018.
  • “The composition seems so natural…Poetry and jazz have long been great partners, but ‘The Poetry of Jazz’ offers a fresher take…one not to be missed.” ~ The Paris Review, “Editor’s Pick,” March 23, 2018.
  • “A terrific record– the best of its sort mixing poetry and jazz.” ~ NPR’s Tom Vitale.
  • “You hold in your hands jazz history. This is a CD that must be heard!” ~ Donald Brown, jazz pianist/producer.
  • “The Poetry of Jazz (Origin)—demonstrates how well carefully crafted language and improvised music complement each other.” ~ New York City Jazz Record, August 2018.
  • “And it is Boone’s wit — as well as Levine’s — that lights up “Gin,” whose bebop melody is shared by saxophone and voice. Some of the lines here make me laugh. Trying to explain the appeal of gin, which tastes so bad yet is so addictive to their elders, a youngster posits that it must be the result of self-flagellation. Levine ironically comments: “He was very well read for a kid of 14 in public schools.” Lurking in the poem’s humor — an acute sense of the tragedy of wasted lives… trumpeter Harrell has never sounded more ravishing — or more romantic… It’s wonderful that this unexpected session happened and that it worked out so well.” ~ Michael Ullman, Arts Fuse, March 13, 2018.
  • “These guest artists [Chris Potter, Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby, and Tom Harrell] might be the attraction for the jazz listener, and Levine for the poetry fan, but that would miss the extraordinary music both written and performed by Boone and several excellent sidemen.” ~Mark Corroto, All About Jazz, March 20, 2018.
  • “Gorgeous record. My words couldn’t do it justice.” ~Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
  • “A fascinating mélange of music and poetry… an engaging fusion of two terrific artists…The poetry is amazingly expressive and the music ties in wonderfully.” ~ Dave Rogers (Professor Bebop), WTJU – UVA
  • “Benjamin Boone knows how to get inside the poem, Phil Levine’s inscrutable and imploding loops of poetics, his observations of the seen and unseen. Boone knows Where the thing called poetry lives, an ocelot among the waters, a sky-shaped Rain God that flares down upon us. He does this with a myriad of instruments, with human breath chiseling and burning through brass and string, reeds and skin and hands and resin. He is one of the very few that can lure Phil’s poetry-magic and call it out and show it to the world… Beyond words… up there with the muses.” ~ Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States.
  • “The innovative saxophonist Benjamin Boone delivers a special collaboration,” ~ Zeal NYC, March 9, 2018.
  • “Clever and Beat Generation session of the 21st Century… The modern Greenwich Village and Left Bank of jazz.” ~ Jazz Weekly, May 17, 2018
  • “A hipster top ten.” ~ Chris Spector, Midwest Record, December 29, 2018.
  • “Fantastic CD… the absolute best jazz/poetry song I’ve heard (yet) in 2018… just SUPERB work here that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – that means, of course, that it also gets my “PICK” for “best jazz/poetry album.” ~Rotcod Zzaj, Review, Improvijazzation Nation
  • The Normal School: A Literary Magazine, Word Music: A Discussion with Brian Turner and Benjamin Boone,” June 12, 2018.
  • Literary analysis of The Poetry of Jazz, Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz and Literature, “A song that would tell the story of all these things together,” Winter 2018: “unpretentious, ego-less desire to communicate the relevant poetry’s feelings and moods… Boone flies on soprano sax… an elegy and homage to Philip Levine… it brings me indescribable happiness.”

Praise for 2019’s “The Poetry of Jazz – Volume Two,” Origin Records (82772)

  • “Visually resonant… lovingly produced.” ~ Bradley Bambarger, Downbeat, January 10, 2019
  • “Boone provides aching saxophone lines…Sterling arrangements… better than perfect… The music is full of life and colour, …very much die for…” ~ Raul da Gama, Jazz da Gamba, June 1, 2019.
  • “In the 26 years of running UK Vibe, and the 35 years of buying and enjoying music, these albums of yours have reached deeper than most in that time. It just feels so real.” ~ Steven Williams Heath, Founder, UK VIBE
  • “… emotionally direct, unpretentious and irascibly open-hearted …” ~ San Francisco Classical Voice, October 13, 2019.
  • “Rarely found depth, sophistication, and listenability… their efforts work beautifully… It will likely take a long time before someone does it this well again. Meanwhile, musicians could benefit from listening to this album for what it can tell them about the inner core of their music… Levine, Boone and the group show us by example a little of what we go through in our lives and its intimate connection to the creative process of jazz.” ~Victor L. Shermer, All About Jazz, January 21, 2019.
  • “A vivid snapshot of an important piece of American history wonderfully captured on record with the foresight of Boone … one is drawn in with a rare and intimate immediacy … We’d better make the most of it as there won’t be any more where this came from.” ~ UK Vibe Magazine, 5/5 review, July 25, 2019.
  • “Some of it [this CD] is just so hip it will flat domino you…remarkable…amazing stuff…” ~Dave Rogers (Professor Bebop) WTJU – UVA
  • “A singular collaboration.” ~ Jazz Times, April 25, 2019
  • “It has been a banner time for high-profile jazz-poetry collaborations. Last year saw the release of Matt Wilson’s long-planned tribute to Carl Sandburg, Nicole Mitchell’s teaming with Haki Madhubuti and Jane Ira Bloom’s musical refractions of Emily Dickinson’s terse verse, among other projects. But now there is The Poetry of Jazz, providing us with the revelatory phenomenon of the wordsmith being the heppest musical cat on the scene.”~Jazz Times feature, April 25, 2019.
  • “A stunning piece… celebrate this brilliant collaboration.” ~ Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

Praise for 2020’s “Joy,” Origin Records (82800)

  • “When you think of a Fulbright Scholar heading off to deepest darkest Africa, do you picture a white boy that understands funk? Pairing here with his pals, Ghana Jazz Collective, the two cultures collide in a jolly mash up that proves once again that music is the universal language and how easy it is to resolve any conflict if you really want to. Upbeat, badass stuff that’s a gasser throughout, it’s too bad more white boys can’t have this much fun—even without having to go to Ghana. This is creative music that will stand the test of time.” ~Chris Spector, Midwest Record
  • “On the two volumes of The Poetry of Jazz… [Boone] demonstrated his ability to fluently interact with and reply to a spoken text. On Joy, Boone expands his penchant for conversation… [with] a West African lilt but the language is all-the-way jazz… Particularly impressive is Curtain of Light… dramatic and explicit.” ~ Hobart Taylor, Downbeat Magazine, 3.5-star review, April 2020.
  • “Wonderful merging of cultures… great title tune, “Joy”… Drummer Frank Kissi is a master of the polyrhythms that pulsate under the album’s tracks. Bassist Bright Osei gives a fresh, thumping, funky twist to Herbie Hancock’s classic, “Maiden Voyage.” Pianist Victor Dey Jr. and saxophonists Boone and Bernard Ayisa shine throughout. Vocalist Sandra Huson sings gorgeously on Boone’s tune “Without You,” but her more intriguing contribution is a frenetic vocalese on Boone’s wild composition “Slam.” ~ Ron Netsky, Rochester City Newspaper, 3/25/20.
  • Boone’s colleagues… prove to be polyglot performers equally conversant in the languages of funk, post-bop, swing and, of course, African forms… creat[ing] an amalgam that draws from those various traditions and ideals but remains fastened to none of them. The morphing opener, “The Intricacies of Alice,” makes that point better than any song on the album. Shifting gears with incredible precision while also keeping a fixed eye on melodic clarity, it gives pause to admire the handiwork of the well-oiled rhythm section. A soaring, punchy “Maiden Voyage” follows. Boone, sounding like a man possessed, brings the heat, and Ayisa and Dey, in smart contrast, play things on the somewhat sly side…”Slam,” with Huson’s wordless incantations, seems to play to ancient rites and modern-day strife all at once; “Curtain of Light” brings Ethiopian expressionism into the band’s orbit; “The 233 Jazz Bar,” nodding to the venue where these musicians connected, plays to the region’s funkier side; and the Gerry Niewoodpenned title track, with Boone gleefully riding the currents, encapsulates the titular spirit.” ~ Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz 4/5 review
  • Boone’s colleagues… prove to be polyglot performers equally conversant in the languages of funk, post-bop, swing and, of course, African forms… creat[ing] an amalgam that draws from those various traditions and ideals but remains fastened to none of them. The morphing opener, “The Intricacies of Alice,” makes that point better than any song on the album. Shifting gears with incredible precision while also keeping a fixed eye on melodic clarity, it gives pause to admire the handiwork of the well-oiled rhythm section. A soaring, punchy “Maiden Voyage” follows. Boone, sounding like a man possessed, brings the heat, and Ayisa and Dey, in smart contrast, play things on the somewhat sly side…”Slam,” with Huson’s wordless incantations, seems to play to ancient rites and modern-day strife all at once; “Curtain of Light” brings Ethiopian expressionism into the band’s orbit; “The 233 Jazz Bar,” nodding to the venue where these musicians connected, plays to the region’s funkier side; and the Gerry Niewoodpenned title track, with Boone gleefully riding the currents, encapsulates the titular spirit.” ~ Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz 4/5 review
  • “Genuine cross-cultural jazz Joy… dexterous and powerful rhythm machine… Osei is simply magnificent… room-shaking, finger-popping bass line… steeplechase of saxophone and piano solos… joyful marriage of African and American music… a massive explosion of communal jazz expression, with pianist Dey playing the part of McCoy Tynerto complement Boone’s yowling, John Coltrane-like soprano sax.” ~ All About Jazz, Chris M. Slawecki
  • Great music.” ~ Jeff Hanley, host of PRX’s syndicated shows “Jazz Happening Now” and “Jazz After Hours”
  • “Wow this album is full of power!  I love the dynamics of the songs.  I sort of feel like I’m hang-gliding through a mountain range. It’s definitely a strong happy coping mechanism during this time. Thanks for making the music!” ~ Murf Reeves, WWOZ New Orleans
  • A superb new album… an excellent new album… I like the album so much… Right up my street…one of the best releases so far this year!” (in may 2020) ~ Ruth Fisher, London’s JazzFM (largest jazz station in London)
  • “I absolutely love your music! I also truly admire the connections you make in your music…bathed in joy, exuberance and dance…this blend of musicians is a beautiful and energetic sample of the positive energy of music.” Dave Rogers (Professor Bebop) WTJU Charlottesville
  • You produce great music!” Ed Smith, Jazz Now” WOWD, Tacoma Park
  • Absolutely terrific!” ~ Russ Haines, WWSP, Stevens Point
  • “Album of the Week…Fun and vibrant… unique mesh of traditional and experimentation.” ~Konstantin Nicholas Rega, In the Clouds (UK)
  • “The CD transmits Boone’s passionate and melodious alto and soprano saxophones and the amazing technique of the Ghana musicians.” ~ Walker’s, Japanese music magazine.
  • “The joy and passion of the Ghana Jazz Collective is Infectious (if I dare use that word)” ~ Brad Stone, “The Creative Connection” and “European Jazz Union” radio shows.

Praise for 2020’s “The Poets Are GatheringOrigin Records (82808)

  • “An absolute must… a vector for a reflection of injustice and impotence in our current society.” ~ Georges Tonla Briquet, Jazz Halo (Belgium)
  • Intense and hard-hitting… socially and politically conscious, often beautiful, work that will make you think and that never shirks from challenging and confronting societal wrongs in a way that transcends the polemics of the newspaper opinion writers and the power grab of politicians… Boone’s vision surpasses all expectations… Best so far in 2020.” ~ Stephen Graham, Founder of UK’s JazzWise Magazine and University of London Senior Lecturer, in Marlbank Jazz Blog (UK)
  • “One of the more compelling poetry/jazz outings I’ve ever come across… Several sections are electric.” ~Jim Macnie, DownBeat Magazine
  • An exhilarating combination of poetry and jazz… incredible musicians… I love this album! You are in for a treat!” Ruth Fisher, JazzFM (London)
  • “Benjamin Boone’s most ambitious recording yet… a superb arsenal of poets who unravel their works with razor-sharp conviction and clarity… wondrous… like engrossing short films, all of which demand concentrated engagement.” ~John Murph, DownBeat Magazine
  • “Outrage over broken social contracts feeds the raw creative expression that Boone commands so masterfully… mesmeric spontaneous composition… meticulous word-craft. A forceful dialectic.”  ~Suzanne Lorge, DownBeat Magazine
  • “[A] radical jazz and poetry set that captures the spirit of the [1960’s] boundary breakers and envelop pushers that were fed up and pissed off with everything going on back then and making their feelings known… a real collection of broadsides the 60s would be proud of.” ~ Chris Spector, Midwest Record.
  • “4 ½ Stars: Ambitious foray into jazz and poetry…the union of poetry and jazz has never been so powerfully presented, reflecting the past year of the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement, the universal role of the poet, and the power of art and voice to raise awareness and inspire change… a worldwide call for justice… Boone does his part in skillfully weaving the fabric of voice and sound into a common amalgam of emotion. He leaves no separation between the two, with the music not simply supporting the voice artist, but seemingly physically getting into the throat and lungs of the poet as one voice unified…Boone’s music is a climatic, dynamic vamp, with his piercing, wailing soprano providing color points of intensity and outrage… Boone has managed not to overreach with this effort, but to have created a work that perhaps best defines the iconic year of 2020 in no uncertain terms. It is important to understand that this is not a jazz session record with spoken word added as one would add another musical instrument. It is not an album of recited poetry drawn on top of a musical canvas. It is a sound which presents important poetic works in the context of sound and emotive playing. There is no line of demarcation, only artistic unity afloat in a solution of truth.” ~ Paul Rauch, All About Jazz, 2020.
  • There are incantations and supplications to be found here. Also: elegies and headlines, howls and mantras, reveries and outbursts. They instruct and affirm. They urge you to dance while offering road maps to reflection. They rouse you from deep slumber and offer solace for your worst nightmares.” ~ Gene Seymour, noted cultural critic and journalist
  • “The content reflects the political and social turmoil of the present, providing “up-to-the minute, ripped-from-the-headlines” messages…Boone’s searing sax solo wrings every drop of emotion from Smith’s words, forcing listeners to face these harsh realities… Boone’s sax floats in gentle waves over the currents of Kenny Werner’s piano…Every track on The Poets Are Gathering is worthy of praise, offering thought-provoking, socially-charged poems backed by a group of exceptional musicians… Highly recommended!” Brenda Nelson-Strauss, Black Grooves, The Archive of African American Music and Culture, 2020.
  • Saxophonist Benjamin Boone fuses jazz with spoken words in a collection of pieces speaking to the challenges of our times… outstanding… delivered to impacting effect. Incredible work.” Editor, The Jazz Page, 2020.
  • “Best of 2020: Benjamin Boone’s The Poets Are Gathering(Origin) was maybe the most interesting new disc this year. Ever since Ken Nordine crossed swords with Chico Hamilton sideman Fred Katz to spawn the long-loved Word Jazz albums, the two disciplines have had mutual respect but an uneasy coexistence. Boone thrives on the uneasy, and here he is joined by eleven of the finest Central/Northern California poets for a truly intense and compelling program of music and spoken word. Poets ranks with Don Byron’s forays into similar spoken/music areas, which is no mean feat.” Skip Heller, All About Jazz, 2020
  • This mighty record reinforces the reputation of Benjamin Boone as a great songwriter who can take the lyricism of poetry and make it his own in melodies that are singularly poignant and powerful. Much of this work is socially relevant and politically conscious – in keeping with the dark times that have beset the USA from 2016 onwards. Themes of both music and poetry are stark and matching the themes and content of the verse are appropriately dark hued melodies… Boone works with various ensembles, mixing instrumentation with intuitive ingenuity. The questing, sometimes painful themes are counterbalanced by instrumental arrangements that feed into the intense yearning of the poet’s voices. Dominant ideas are introduced shadowed by sweeping melodic and harmonic accompaniments throughout and this gives the sixteen works here a profound orchestral heft. Bright light and dark shadows abound. Mr Boone’s playing follows the settings by ringing in the changes in emotion to mirror despair and hope, using colour and texture to mirror the palette of emotions with his musical palette; in each exuberant yowl of the soprano horn and each grim shadowy phrase wail on his alto saxophone…. Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem and the music that surrounds it serve to highlight the veracity of the entire project – as well as give notice of Benjamin Boone as an important, visionary new voice in a world where the art of poetry and music collide.” ~ Raul Da Gama, JazzDaGama, 2020.
  • This is an innovative album…responding to current issues, particularly racism… gorgeous… a powerful album.” ~ Christa V., WCBN, 2020.
  • “Moving.” ~ George W Harris, Jazz Weekly, 2020.