Following up on his success of The Poetry of Jazz Volume 1 (2018) and The Poetry of Jazz Volume 2 (2019), which featured the late U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, Fresno State music theory and composition professor Benjamin Boone released two new albums in 2020. “Joy” was released in March 2020 and documents Boone’s collaboration with the Ghana Jazz Collective — a group of Ghanaian musicians he met during his time as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ghana. In October 2020, Boone expanded his poetry of jazz franchise by including an array of poets, including Patricia Smith and former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Juan Felipe Herrera, in his album “The Poets Are Gathering.”
Since Boone’s two 2020 albums’ release, accolades have been pouring in lauding his recent works.
Jazz Station, a Portuguese language blog based in Los Angeles, named Boone the number three alto saxophone artist and number 10 soprano saxophone artist of 2020 for his album “Joy.” Also, the Ghana Jazz Collective with Benjamin Boone was named the number five instrumental group and the cover artwork for Joy by Wiz Kudowor and John Bishop was named number 8 of the year.
Additionally, jazz critic Raul Da Gama had high praise for Boone’s body of work, likening him to Franz Schubert.
“Like Schubert, the famously productive and legendary master of Lieder in whose lucid and songful music, melody was king, Mr. Boone seems to have arrived at a point in his career as a composer where he is inadvertently becoming more Schubert-like.”
Fresno blogger and Fresno State MCJ faculty Donald Munro named Benjamin Boone: The Poets are Gathering as one of 2020’s cultural events of the year.
All About Jazz critic Skip Heller called The Poets are Gathering “maybe one of the most interesting new disc this year” for 2020.
Boone’s 2018 album “The Poetry of Jazz,” 2019 album “The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two,” 2020 album “Joy” with the Ghana Jazz Collective, and his 2020 album “The Poets Are Gathering” have all been sponsored in part by the College of Arts and Humanities Dean’s Council Annual Fund. The Dean’s Council is divided equally between the Dean’s Council Scholarship Endowment and the Dean’s Discretionary Fund. The Dean’s Council Scholarship Endowment provides scholarship and student assistance to every department and discipline within the College of Arts and Humanities at Fresno State. The Dean’s Discretionary Fund supports curriculum enrichment, research funding, technological and artistic support, interdisciplinary and cross-culture projects, and the unique and unexpected needs of the College. This type of comprehensive support has a direct impact on our students, faculty and programs.