What started as a jazz project between two Fresno State colleagues has earned the respect of Downbeat Magazine readers who rank “The Poetry of Jazz” the No. 3 Jazz Album of the Year in the 2018 Readers Poll. The poll results appeared in the December 2018 issue and praise the performance of Pulitzer-winning poet laureate and former Fresno State professor Philip Levine and Dr. Benjamin Boone, Fresno State professor of music.

“I am just so pleased that this labor of love and this Fresno-based project has resonated with listeners. It couldn’t have happened without the support and participation of so many people, including the College of Arts and Humanities Dean’s Council and Fresno State Research and Creative Activities grants, who provided release time and financial support,” said Boone.

“The Poetry of Jazz,” was released in March 2018 and was well received by critics and the public. Following its release, it spent some time on Amazon’s bestseller list and been reviewed by many jazz publications, jazz artists, poets and has even been featured on NPR — but Boone was especially excited about the Downbeat Magazine ranking.

Since “The Poetry of Jazz” was recorded, two masters of their craft have passed away — U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine in 2015 and drummer Brian Hamada in August 2018.

“I am truly privileged and honored to have been able to collaborate with all of these amazing folks, especially U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize recipient Philip Levine, and musician extraordinaire Brian Hamada, both who are now gone,” said Boone.

A continuation of the album, “The Poetry of Volume Two” will be released in January 2019. It will be featured at the Lincoln Center’s Jazz Congress conference in New York City.