Chicago born, Brooklyn-based saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson performs live at The Bunker on baritone saxophone, accompanying himself on analog synthesizer, using arpeggiated and repeating structures over which he improvises lyrical work using extended techniques including circular breathing, multiphonics, and overtones to great effect.
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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CF430CD
Squidco Product Code: 24451
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at The Bunker by Aaron Nevezie.
Jonah Parzen-Johnson-baritone saxophone, analog synthesizer
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• Show Bio for Jonah Parzen-Johnson
"Jonah Parzen-Johnson is a baritone saxophonist based in Brooklyn, New York. He was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up on Chicago's South Side. He completed a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies at New York University in 2010, and a Master of Music in jazz saxophone at Manhattan School of Music in 2012. In Chicago, Parzen-Johnson studied under Mwata Bowden, a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
He is a member of Zongo Junction, a Brooklyn Afrobeat ensemble, for which he performs and composes. Jonah Parzen-Johnson performs regularly as a solo saxophonist and his music for solo baritone saxophone and analog synthesizer, balances simple melodic passages with extended techniques including circular breathing, multiphonics, and overtones. Parzen-Johnson's solo music explores his interest in folk music and avant-jazz.
Since 2013, Parzen-Johnson has performed with an analog synthesizer built around a Moog Synthesizer VCO, and Dave Smith Instruments Mopho Module. His self-assembled synthesizer is built to follow the volume of his saxophone and a set of pedals he plays with his feet. In June 2015, Parzen-Johnson released his second solo album featuring saxophone & his custom synthesizer, and spent two months touring 34 US cities in support of the record. In an exercise to connect with people, and create empathy in all of the cities he visited, Parzen-Johnson collected three reasons to live in each city, and in November 2015 he released them as a paperback book called Three Reasons to Live Here."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah_Parzen-Johnson)
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1. Cabin Pressure 4:39
2. These Shoulders, Those Shoulders 5:00
3. Guns Make Us Murderers 4:56
4. Too Many Dreams 5:19
5. What Do I Do With Sorry 6:07
6. I Have Questions 4:46
7. I Try To Remember Where I Come From 4:48
sample the album:
"I think it's worthwhile for those of us who devote our lives to making stuff, to be sure we ask ourselves why we're spending our time this way. Each of us is a collection of gravitations. In my first saxophone lesson with Mwata Bowden, my baritone saxophone hero, and one of Chicago's creative leaders, he told me, "we call it Creative Music, because...". All I heard was "we". Community. An important reminder that Creative Music was about more than a style, or a skill. It is part of a movement that exists in concert with American history, and a tradition of explosive creativity in response to deep hardship.
That "we" is important to me. Something to respect, and place above other things. Community is a funny thing to think about when standing on a stage by myself getting ready to play a solo saxophone set. Experimental music can feel very isolating, but it doesn't have to be. I think a lot about sound as I build each piece of music using extended saxophone techniques, and carefully assembled analog synthesizer components that breath and pulse with my wiry saxophone melodies.
I find joy in the craft, but beyond that, I aim to make something that if placed in the right context, can tell a story that each person in the room can connect with. Something simple, and honest enough, that although it might be painful, it can resonate with anyone. I've lived in Brooklyn NY since 2006, but I was very lucky to grow up on the Southside of Chicago, surrounded by incredible musicians that I met at Jazz clubs, studied with, and saw around my neighborhood. They defined my musical world, were receptive to my curiosity, and deeply supportive as I honed my musical voice.
The title of this album, I Try To Remember Where I Come From, is a direct expression of my gratitude, but, on a deeper level, it is a reminder that I have taken inspiration from a tradition that isn't rooted in my own experience. It is a pattern repeated regularly in American music history. Something that I think about a lot.In many ways, Black American music is a response to an environment of exclusion, oppression, and institutional silencing that I, a white American man, have not, and will never experience.
Despite this fact, throughout my teenage years, Black musicians in Chicago shared their traditions, their gatherings, their bandstands, their living rooms, and their musical incites with me in a generous, and enduring way. I find it deeply humbling that a community that formed, in part, to protect its members from an environment where everything could be taken from them, is also one of the most generous sources of creativity and inspiration in American art.
I think this generosity deserves music that is loyal to the truth behind the tradition. I wrote these songs because I care about the people who own that tradition, and who forged it as a tool of inclusion. I seek to honor their battle for institutional recognition, and racial equality, with every show I play, and everything that I make. Their fight continues today, and deserves all of our attention."-Jonah Parzen
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