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Jason Ajemian's Chicago-based Highlife with Peter Hanson, Owen Stewart, Marc Riordan and New Yorker Jacob Wick, a six piece jazz/rock ensemble with a skewed lyric sense, recommended.

Ajemian, Jason & The Highlife
Let Me Get That Digital

Ajemian, Jason & The Highlife: Let Me Get That Digital (Sundmagi)
Label: Sundmagi    
Released in: USA    

"Jason Ajemian & The Highlife is a sixpiece jazz/rock ensemble from Chicago, working off of scores that Jason Ajemian composed using the Architectural Drafting software program "AutoCAD". The CAD stands for Computer Aided Drafting, but you'd never be able to tell as the result feels so fluid and organic. Or maybe it is apparent, since AutoCAD is a useful tool for designing three-dimensional works of art.

As a bass player, composer, and improvisor Jason Ajemian has played a part in an array of projects including Born Heller (with Josephine Foster), Who Cares How Long You Sink, Lay All Over It, Hush Arbors, Helado Negro (Asthmattic Kitty), Dragons 1976, and collaborations with Mary Halvorson and Ken Vandermark. Highlife brings these various endeavors together with a mix of styles both composed and improvised, guided by children and computers alike.

"Monsters" is from the Monsters and Animals 7'', with songs inspired by Ajemian's three-year-old niece Madeline. "Soak Up the Sun" is from the new album, Let Me Get That Digital. Both releases are available for pre-order from Ajemian's own Sundmagi label, where a donation of any amount will also allow you to "get that digital" (in mp3 format) of any Sundmagi release, including "a performance transcribing Black Sabbath's Into the Void from 1971 to a new version of the song performed backwards by a ten piece orchestra with a vocal accompaniment."-jason, Free Music

"As soon as I found out this single from Jason Ajemian was inspired by his niece, it immediately changed the first few listens. I thought it was going in a kind of childlike direction, with some deliberate mis-arrangements, and off key notes, but that deliberate twist makes it come together. There's a sort of sludgy, slow tempo haphazard feel, added to the drawings on the sleeve it's an interesting idea to take this naive, and by default, sincere approach to the songwriting. What's a more authentic way to get to that place than with the help of a kid throwing the rules out for you.It must have been entertaining as hell...that is if he even sat down with this master plan in mind, or it just happened one night, putting her to bed... and of course you have to press that to a seven inch. I have that compulsion almost daily.

'TV/Animals' is a horn heavy arrangement, and by the time it gets to the Animals section it's full on call and response with the band where it becomes Talking Heads meets Foot Village...all pounding drums and the band minus Jason yelling back different descriptions of the animals.Monsters on the B-Side has a dirty, Tom Waits feel, it's an off kilter blues, the horns on this one range from Tortoise post rock to Sufjan style instrumentation.

The recording has a real room, alive sound, the instruments sound close, probably to help catch those little moments like the sax squeaks or a cracking trumpet phrase...shining a light on the seeming imperfections.I knew this would end up in a sort of experimental classical compositional place...there's a huge amount of conception and work behind the tracks, nothing is left to chance, exactly....maybe it's in attempting to keep that spontaneity going when you're also forced as a composer to keep applying that mathematical right brain to composing.

I feel like Jason is working in a contemporary classical indie direction, approaching pop culture with a trained ear. I could see any number of his eclectic pieces performed everywhere from Le Poisson Rouge to the Issue Project Room."-7" Everyday

See also TV/Animals - Monsters 7"

Related Categories of Interest:

Rock and Related
Improvised Music
Improvised Rock
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Quintet Recordings

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Price: $8.00
In Stock


Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Quantity in Basket: None

Product Information:

UPC: 656605792620

Label: Sundmagi
Catalog ID: SMR003
Squidco Product Code: 13806

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2010
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardstock foldover
Recorded on January 3rd, 2010 at Strobe Studios, Chicago by Griffin Rodriguez.


Marc Riordan-drums, vox

Peter Hanson-saxophone, vox

Jason Ajemian-bass, vox

Owen Stewart-Robertson-guitar, vox

Jacob Wick-trumpet, vox

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Track Listing:

1. Daddy Bulldogs 0:22

2. A JayTram Laser 0:35

3. Sun Up 3:47

4. Vibrates 3:53

5. Can I 1:56

6. With No Light 5:48

7. Living Like You Own 3:53

8. Seduced To Kill 1:44

9. TV 6:19

10. Old Smokey 3:59

11. Distracting Lucas 2:37

12. Soak Up The Sun 2:11

13. Big Sky (#6) 3:03

14. Trust Those Eyes 3:18