“Parzen-Johnson has been able to craft a set of tunes that reach deep into the soul.”
- Capital Bop (June 2012)
“Jonah Parzen-Johnson is an innovative saxophonist who can do incredible things with the instrument.”
- DCist (June 2012)
“Parzen-Johnson’s plainspoken compositional vision impresses as much as his formidable command of circular breathing and other outré techniques.”
- TimeOut NY (June 2012)
“Parzen-Johnson is a formidable voice on bari, and the band play the kind of post-bop — knotty tunes, strong grooves, lots of freedom — that has kept the avant-garde alive while shifting the mainstream to the left.”
- Boston Phoenix (January 2011)
“Playing with a collected focus belying his age, displaying a chamber-like propensity for counterpoint, thoughtful arrangements, and consideration for the possibilities of the given instrumentation.”
- Jazz Inside Magazine (March 2010)
“Baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson presents a dusky set of illuminated solo pieces that resonate the simplicity and unpretentiousness of folk music as played by an improvising jazz artist.”
- All About Jazz (May 2012)
“One of a number of solo saxophonists currently making waves in NYC, baritone player Jonah Parzen-Johnson presents his mesmerizing and exacting compositions in advance of a new album, Michiana.”
- TimeOut NY (January 2012)
Jonah Parzen-Johnson is a saxophonist living in Brooklyn, NY. He writes lofi music for solo saxophone and analog synth about the feeling of joyful melancholy that comes from leaving stuff behind as the world conspires to push us away from our memories. His impressive use of extended techniques including circular breathing, multi-phonics and almost impossibly nimble vocalization owes a debt to the Chicago saxophone legacy, but his devotion to a quirky almost vocal style places him in new territory for the solo saxophone.Jonah draws inspiration from the unadorned voices of Appalachian Music and lo-fi musicians like Bill Callahan. He has meticulously constructed a world of warm memories remembered in a cold present, as he melds the evocative nature of folk music with the chilling power of experimentalism.
Look Like You’re Not Looking is the second release from experimental folk saxophonist, Jonah Parzen-Johnson. An exciting departure from his debut album, Michiana (2012), which referenced the area of the US on the border of Michigan and Indiana, and the warm nostalgia of childhood memories. This limited edition 7 inch vinyl recording offers a chance for Parzen-Johnson to check-in after a year of solo touring and present a snap shot of the rapidly evolving aural palette at the core of his solo performance.
As a soloist as well as a co-leader of Brooklyn afrobeat deconstructionist ensemble, Zongo Junction, Jonah has begun exploring the role of analog electronics in composition. While on his first solo release tour in 2012, Jonah visited the Moog Music factory in Asheville NC, and was inspired by their devotion to monophonic analog synthesis. “I’ve always found interactive electronics exciting, but laptops and digital effects never felt right with the more lo-fi and folk oriented music I want to make,” says the Chicago native. “There’s something about sticking to a strict all analog method of making music that feels really grounded and inspiring to me.”
The songs that have emerged utilize a carefully customized collection of interactively synthesized sounds, perfectly melding with Jonah’s uniquely pliable saxophone tone, and haunting vocalizations. An interactive hybrid instrument that sits firmly on the cutting edge, while being grounded in a tradition that prizes the use of the highest quality tools to make the most organic musical statements possible.
A resident of Brooklyn NY for the last six years, Jonah has toured the US with a relentless focus rarely found in the realm of experimental musicians. “Touring on my own is a really important part of my life, and I try to write music that embraces the limitations of solo performance and reflects on the experiences I’ve had while on the road.” These songs are the first in a collection of music that emerged from melodies hummed in the car and ideas born in other people’s houses. Music meant to share the sometimes hopeful, sometimes crushing experience of touring as a solo musician.
“Hyper minimalist compositional fiends should be all over Jonah Parzen-Johnson.”
- Yes Weekly (June 2012)
“Baritonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson has a tone and phrasing somewhere between Giuffre, Chaloff, and Pepper Adams, with even a little Mulligan, only with a modern twist.”
- Cadence Magazine (July 2010)
“His unaccompanied playing captures the sentiment of an old Polaroid, long-ago happiness fading into the melancholy of memory.”
- Philadelphia City Paper (June 2012