Against Silence (feat.Tyehimba Jess), from Benjamin Boone's album "The Poets Are Gathering"
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ALTO SAXOPHONE: Benjamin Boone
PIANO: Kenny Werner
BASS: Corcoran Holt
DRUMS: Ari Hoenig

PRODUCED by Donald Brown & Benjamin Boone
MIXED and MASTERED by Mike Marciano at Systems Two Studio, Long Island, NY
RECORDED by Mike Marciano at Samurai Hotel Recording Studio, Astoria, NY
VIDEO by Robert O'Haire at Straw2gold Pictures

ABOUT THIS PROJECT: Benjamin Boone takes his fascination with the merger of poetry and jazz to stunning new heights on "The Poets Are Gathering," set for an October 16 release on Origin Records. True to its title, the album finds the saxophonist-composer assembling a large group of acclaimed American poets—11 in all, including 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 musicians including pianist Kenny Werner, guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ari Hoenig, and many others.

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.”

Boone has already made waves in the jazz and literary worlds with his poetic experiments, specifically with his widely acclaimed 2018/2019 two-part collaboration with the late U.S. Poet Laureate/Pulitzer Prize recipient Philip Levine, "The Poetry of Jazz," voted #3 “Best Album of 2018” in DownBeat’s 83rd Annual Readers Poll. A colleague of Levine’s and Boone’s, Juan Felipe Herrera, inspired the current gathering.

“Juan and I set three of his poems to music for his culminating U.S. Poet Laureate event at the Library of Congress in 2017, and I was moved by his empowering message that everybody is a poet, everyone has something valuable to offer, everyone’s voice is important and deserves to be heard,” says the saxophonist. “So when we decided to do this album, we naturally wanted to address issues of equality, empowerment, and action.”

And that they did. The album’s diverse voices offer perspectives on the world that is the United States in 2020. The social, cultural, political, and emotional turmoil of the moment is a recurring theme. In “Against Silence,” Tyehimba Jess offers a panorama of American violence and its toll, speaking against indiscriminate and unjust murder, both by police officers and drones, while Patricia Smith’s “That’s My Son There” condenses that panorama, providing a raw, intimate examination of the horrific and needless pain caused by these murders. Haitian American poet Patrick Sylvain twice meditates on immigration, portraying both the fraught journey and arrival (“Marooning”) and what it leaves behind (“Ports of Sorrow”).

“Poem by Poem” is Herrera’s moving elegy for the Charleston church shooting victims, and "The Poets Are Gathering" is his call to action. T.R. Hummer’s “The Sun One (Homage for Sun Run)” provides an alternate sonic reality, while rapper Donald Brown II wears “Black Man’s” combination of pathos and righteous anger on his sleeve. However, there is also room for less overtly political expression, whether Edward Hirsch’s nostalgic reflection “Branch Library,” or Marisol Baca’s cosmic abstraction “Spiral.”

“I am touched by the issues these poets so eloquently address. Their messages are profound. They call us to action and to work for a better, more just world,” says Boone.

His March 2020 Origin Records release, "Joy," recorded with The Ghana Jazz Collective while he was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Ghana during 2017-18, won critical acclaim for its fresh exploration of the confluence of African and American jazz traditions.

“'Joy' was released at the beginning of the pandemic, and we had to cancel the release concerts,” says Boone. “We considered waiting to release this project, so that we could actually do a tour this time, but we have an imperative to engage the moment and deliver our reactions with as much timeliness and honesty as possible, in spite of the pandemic. The message of these poets is too important, critical, and relevant to current events to wait.”

To read more about this project, download hi-res audio, purchase a physical copy, or support this project, please visit:


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