The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two

by Benjamin Boone | Philip Levine

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1.
Let me begin again as a speck of dust caught in the night winds sweeping out to sea. Let me begin this time knowing the world is salt water and dark clouds, the world is grinding and sighing all night, and dawn comes slowly and changes nothing. Let me go back to land after a lifetime of going nowhere. This time lodged in the feathers of some scavenging gull white above the black ship that docks and broods upon the oily waters of your harbor. This leaking freighter has brought a hold full of hayforks from Spain, great jeroboams of dark Algerian wine, and quill pens that can’t write English. The sailors have stumbled off toward the bars of the bright houses. The captain closes his log and falls asleep. 1/10’28. Tonight I shall enter my life after being at sea for ages, quietly, in a hospital named for an automobile. The one child of millions of children who has flown alone by the stars above the black wastes of moonless waters that stretched forever, who has turned golden in the full sun of a new day. A tiny wise child who this time will love his life because it is like no other.
2.
First Line: A man is singing on the bus...
3.
I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes, took them home, boiled them in their jackets and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt. Then I walked through the dried fields on the edge of town. In middle June the light hung on in the dark furrows at my feet, and in the mountain oaks overhead the birds were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers squawking back and forth, the finches still darting into the dusty light. The woman who sold me the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables at the road-side stand and urging me to taste even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way, she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat" she said, "Even if you don't I'll say you did." Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme, they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker, the glass of water, the absence of light gathering in the shadows of picture frames, they must be naked and alone, they must stand for themselves. My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965 before I went away, before he began to kill himself, and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious, it stays in the back of your throat like a truth you never uttered because the time was always wrong, it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken, made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt, in a form we have no words for, and you live on it. Philip Levine
4.
5.
You can find the poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=34345
6.
He hasn't gone to work, he'll never go back to work. The wife has gone home, mad, with the baby on one arm. Swaying on his good leg, he calls out to the bare bulb a name and opens his arms. The old woman, the beer gone from her glass, turns back to the bar. She's seen them before with hard, knotted bellies, with the bare white breasts of boys. How many times has she stared into those eyes glistening with love or pain and seen nothing but love or pain. Deep at night, when she was coldest, he would always rise and dress so as not to miss the first streetcar burning homeward, and she would rock alone toward dawn. If someone would enter now and take these lovers--for they are lovers--in his arms and rock them together like a mother with a child in each arm, this man with so much desire, this woman with none, then it would not be Hamtramck, it would not be this night. They know it and wait, he staring into the light, she into the empty glass. In the darkness of this world men pull on heavy canvas gloves, dip into rubber coats and enter the fires. The rats frozen under the conveyors turn to let their eyes fill with dawn. A strange star is born one more time.
7.
We stripped in the first warm spring night and ran down into the Detroit River to baptize ourselves in the brine of car parts, dead fish, stolen bicycles, melted snow. I remember going under hand in hand with a Polish highschool girl I'd never seen before, and the cries our breath made caught at the same time on the cold, and rising through the layers of darkness into the final moonless atmosphere that was this world, the girl breaking the surface after me and swimming out on the starless waters towards the lights of Jefferson Ave. and the stacks of the old stove factory unwinking. Turning at last to see no island at all but a perfect calm dark as far as there was sight, and then a light and another riding low out ahead to bring us home, ore boats maybe, or smokers walking alone. Back panting to the gray coarse beach we didn't dare fall on, the damp piles of clothes, and dressing side by side in silence to go back where we came from.
8.
9.
Snow 04:05
You can read the poem here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1978/11/13/snow-8
10.
Godspell 04:47
You can view the poem here: https://www.poetryjett.com/pages/books/6144/philip-levine/godspell-broadside
11.
The Helmet 03:26
All the way on the road to Gary he could see where the sky shone just out of reach and smell the rich smell of work as strong as money, but when he got there the night was over. People were going to work and back, the sidewalks were lakes no one walked on, the diners were saying time to eat so he stopped and talked to a woman who'd been up late making helmets. There are white hands the color of steel, they have put their lives into steel, and if hands could lay down their lives these hands would be helmets. He and the woman did not lie down not because she would praise the steel helmet boarding a train for no war, not because he would find the unjewelled crown in a surplus store where hands were sold. They did not lie down face to face because of the waste of being so close and they were too tired of being each other to try to be lovers and because they had to sit up straight so they could eat. Philip Levine
12.
13.
14.
South 02:38
15.
16.
Blood 02:13
17.
When the shift was over he went out and stood under the night sky a mile from the darkened baseball stadium and waited for the bus. He could taste nickel under his tongue, and when he swiped the back of his hand across his nose he caught the smell of hydrochloric acid. There were clouds between him and the stars, not ordinary ones but dark and looming, and if the rain had begun to fall, he thought, could it be black? Could a halo form on those fine curls his Polish grandma loved to brush when he was a boy, cupping a hand under his chin? How silent and still the world was after so much slamming of metal on metal and the groans of the earth giving way to the wakened fury of the earth and the separate cries of people together for these nights. How odd that he, born of convicts and soldiers, of men and women who crossed and recrossed the earth carrying only the flag of their hopes, should stand numbed by the weight of a Thursday shift and raise his head to a heaven he had never seen and sing in a hoarse voice older than his years, “Oh, Lordy Lord, I am, I’m coming home!” He, who had no home and no hope, alone on a certain night in a year of disbelief, could sing to the ranks of closed houses and cars, could sing as clear rain fell.
18.

about

• Beyond words… up there with the muses.” ~ Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States

• “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.

• “Boone not only distinguishes himself with uncluttered, affecting orchestrations, but by passionately balancing intellect and emotion.” ~ Downbeat Magazine.

• “You hold in your hands jazz history. This is a CD that must be heard!” – Donald Brown, jazz pianist/producer

• The Poetry of Jazz’ is “something much more than the sum of its parts and touches us emotionally in wholly new ways… a master class in the combining of different art forms…an essay in complementarity… tender and genuine without sentimentality.” ~ UK Music Scholar Duncan Heining, in All About Jazz.

Saxophonist/composer Benjamin Boone's "The Poetry of Jazz," a collaboration with the late U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, was recognized as a milestone spoken word/jazz project immediately upon its release in March 2018. Praised in leading musical and literary publications, featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," and voted the #3 "Jazz Album of 2018" in DownBeat's annual Readers Poll, "The Poetry of Jazz" established Boone as one of the most captivating and compelling voices among contemporary artists exploring the intersections between poetry and jazz.

A nonpareil artistic achievement on both musical and literary fronts, "The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two," recorded during the same sessions that produced the first album, features an impressive cast of California players, including bassists Spee Kosloff and Nye Morton, pianists David Aus and Craig von Berg, drummers Gary Newmark and Brian Hamada, who died in 2018 (the album is dedicated to both Levine and Hamada), as well as trumpeter Max Hembd. German violinist Stefan Poetzsch plays on two tracks while Karen Marguth contributes wordless vocals on two of the four instrumental tracks.

credits

released January 18, 2019

BENJAMIN BOONE
ALTO & SOPRANO SAXOPHONE

PHILIP LEVINE
POETRY & NARRATION

DAVID AUS PIANO (1, 3-4, 8-12, 14-15, 17-18)
CRAIG VON BERG PIANO (2, 5-7, 13, 16)
SPEE KOSLOFF BASS (2-10, 12-16, 18)
BRIAN HAMADA DRUMS (2-9, 12-13, 15-16)
NYE MORTON BASS (1, 11, 17)
GARY NEWMARK DRUMS (1, 11, 17)

KAREN MARGUTH VOCALS (8, 12)
MAX HEMBD TRUMPET (4, 8, 11, 15)
ASHER BOONE TRUMPET (4)
ATTICUS BOONE FRENCH HORN (4)
STEFAN POETZSCH VIOLIN (1,7)

PRODUCED BY DONALD BROWN & BENJAMIN BOONE

Music Composed and arranged by BENJAMIN BOONE, except:
(15, 17) composed by DAVID AUS and (2, 6, 7, 13) composed by BENJAMIN BOONE/CRAIG VON BERG / SPEE KOSLOFF / BRIAN HAMADA / and with STEFAN POETZSCH on (7)

RECORDED BY ERIC SHERBON, MAXIMUS MEDIA, FRESNO, CA
RECORDED 8/16-17/12; 4/8-10/13; 10/5/13; 12/10/13; 3/4/14; 6/14/14; 7/7-10/14; 9/28/18; 10/8/18
EDITED BY VINCENT KEENAN, ERIC SHERBON & BENJAMIN BOONE
MIXED & MASTERED BY MIKE MARCIANO, SYSTEMS TWO, BROOKLYN, NY
LIVE PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOE OSEJO; B. BOONE PHOTOS BY MARK CROSSE
COVER DESIGN & LAYOUT BY JOHN BISHOP
COVER ART “DISTANT SOUL” BY FRANK ARNOLD WWW.FRANKARNOLDART.COM

For more information, visit: www.benjaminboone.net
Press: Terri Hinte +1 (510) 234-8781; hudba@sbcglobal.net

©2019 BENJAMIN BOONE ©2019 ORIGIN RECORDS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. UNAUTHORIZED DUPLICATION IS A VIOLATION OF APPLICABLE LAWS. MANUFACTURED IN THE USA. ORIGIN RECORDS WWW.ORIGINARTS.COM

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Benjamin Boone Fresno, California

Benjamin Boone is an American jazz saxophonist, composer, professor, and U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Ghana (2017-18) and the Republic of Moldova (2006). His Origin Records album THE POETRY OF JAZZ was #3 "Best Album of 2018" in the 83rd Annual Downbeat Readers Poll and featured on NPR's All Things Considered, The Paris Review and many others. Websites: BenjaminBoone.net & OriginArts.com ... more

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