Benjamin Boone

The Poets Are Gathering

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Don Lerman, Cadence

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Saxophonist Benjamin Boone led this large scale music and poetry project on (1) using the talents of 21 musicians and 11 poets. Each of the 16 selections presents a poem recited by its author with musical backing from groups ranging from one (solo piano) to seven pieces. Boone, the overall musical arranger, provided the compositions or musical leadership on 11 selections (three of them co-composed), with David Aus, Craig Vonberg, Hashem Assadullahi, Peter Brendler, Kenny Werner, and Donald Brown, II also contributing music in some form. On all selections, the composers and performers do well to reflect or respond to the nature or mood of the verse being recited.

Juan Felipe Herrera's 11-minute narration of his "The Poets Are Gathering" sets the tone for the role of poets to lead the way in expressing concern, resistance, protest, and outrage at injustices in the world, with poems by Patricia Smith ("That's My Son There"), Tyehimba Jess ("Against Silence"), Donald Brown, II ("Black Man"), Patrick Sylvain ("Ports of Sorrow"), and Kimiko Hahn ("These Current Events") also distinctive in their impassioned citations of wrongs. In a more reflective vein are poems by Lee Herrick ("Truths"), and two by Edward Hirsch ("Song" and "Branch Library"). T. R. Hummer's "The Sun One (Homage to Sun Ra)" is a well-done tribute and
portrait of Sun Ra in its artful combination of song and verse.

Boone's music displays wide range, as shown in his highly energetic backing of Dustin Prestridge's "Deconstruction of Idols" versus the ephemeral, airy quality of his music accompanying Marisol Baca's "Spiral."








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