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  • “The ideal soundtrack to a scene in an offbeat indie where the two protagonists come together and have vio- lent weird-sex followed by tender snuggles.”
    - Noisey (Vice Magazine)
  • “A far-ranging solo performance.”
    - New York Times
  • “A folk music for a new tribe of people, one that has access to new technologies and uses them as opposed to being used by them.”
    - All About Jazz
Biography
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“Nostalgia can seem comforting, but I think it should be incredibly unsettling.... maybe that’s what I should’ve titled the album.” says Brooklyn based baritone saxophonist, Jonah Parzen-Johnson, of his first album-lengthed collection of songs for solo saxophone and analog synthesizer. He thinks a lot about titles. “I wrote these songs around the idea that the best period in my generation’s lifespan was gone, but after a few nights on the road, looking people in the eye with that idea in mind, I saw how lazy I was being. It doesn’t feel good to be devoting so much time to counting the ways we’ve failed, and ignoring the hundreds of little ways I could be fixing this mess. I’ve had the same conversation all over the country. Its time to stop drowning in nostalgia, and start finding ways to make our lives about repairing our broken systems. That’s what I was thinking about when I was getting ready to play these songs in the studio.”

Jonah plays lofi experimental folk music for solo baritone saxophone and analog synthesizer. Imagine the raw energy of an Appalachian choir, balanced by a fearlessly exposed saxophone voice, resting on a strikingly unique combination of analog synthesizer compenents sittting on the floor in front of him. It all breathes together, as Jonah uses his feet to weave square and sawtooth waves into a surging base for folk inspired saxophone melodies, overblown multiphonics, vocalizations, and patiently devoloped circular breathing passages. Every element is performed and recorded at the same time, by one person, without any looping, overdubbing or recorded samples. “I want to make music that has texture, and depth, but most of all I want it to be direct and grounded. Performing completely live with all analog instruments, helps with that. For me, playing solo is all about being connected to the folks listening. I want you to feel like I’m looking you in the eye while I’m playing. ”

A Chicago native, Jonah grew up emersed in the music community built around the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. “I remember dragging my parents to see the Art Ensemble of Chicago at Mandel Hall, when I was a teenager,” recalls Parzen-Johnson. “That show got me exploring musicians like Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, and Mwata Bowden, who were big proponents of solo music. I love their playing and writing, but their solo music always felt kind of distant.” Jonah stumbled upon Neil Young’s live at Massey Hall Concert later on. “Sometimes I just listen to the talking tracks in between the songs on that record. He makes those moments a central part of his performance. That’s something I wish people thought about more with experimental music. I want to be a story teller, and to make that happen I have to create an environment where people feel comfortable diving into the songs with me as I play them, an environment where they can understand the stories behind the compositions. That has to happen live, so touring is really important to me.”

Since the release of his debut album, Michiana, in 2012 Jonah has spent a lot of time on the road. He’s toured over twenty thousand miles across the US and back, playing in venues like The Stone and Zebulon in NYC, The Velvet Lounge in Chicago, The Royal Room in Seattle, and The Center for New Music in San Francisco and sharing bills with Celestial Shore, Landlady, Steve Lehman, and Brian Chase among others. “Touring is a really fun way to get my music out there, but its become about more than that for me. Musicians are around because they are pollinators. Hopping between towns, grabbing ideas that stick with them and sharing them with new people. I know folks everywhere are wondering how we’re going to fix these broken systems, but they don’t always want to talk about this stuff, it’s easier to just get nostalgic. I want to interupt that cycle, get some conversations going, and help jumpstart some solutions. That’s what I’ll be thinking about when I hit the road this spring.”

Video
Touring
Date City Venue Country
12/20/14 Brisbaine, Queensland Jazz Upstairs Australia
With STAC
12/08/14 Brooklyn NY Mercury Lounge United States
The Landlady Holiday Spectacular w/Landlady, Celestial Shore, Xenia Rubinos, Luke Temple, & more
11/30/14 New York, NY The Ace Hotel United States
Time: 9:00pm. With The Relatives, The Westerlies
11/02/14 Brooklyn, NY The Hive United States
Time: 8:00pm. 7 Days and Nights of Baritone Army Facebook
10/29/14 Brooklyn, NY Manhattan Inn United States
With Rick Parker, Angelo Spagnolo
09/12/14 New York, NY Spectrum United States
06/14/14 Oakland, CA Homeish United States
06/13/14 Los Angeles, CA Curve Line Space United States
w/Steven Lugerner Solo
06/11/14 San Francisco, CA Center For New Music United States
With Steven Lugerner
06/09/14 Seattle, WA The Royal Room United States
06/08/14 Seattle, WA The Racer Sessions United States
Guest Curator
06/07/14 Seattle WA The Piano Studio United States
Improvised Duets with Andy Clausen and friends
06/06/14 Portland OR Mississippi Pizza United States
w/Barra Brown Group
06/05/14 Chicago, IL Elastic Arts United States
Time: 9:00pm. Improvised Music Series Curated by Dave Rempis
06/02/14 Brooklyn, NY Manhattan Inn United States
03/03/14 Brooklyn, NY Manhattan Inn United States
With Austin Vaughn
03/02/14 Buffalo, NY Pausa Arthouse United States
Time: 2:00pm. Matinee Show!!!
03/01/14 Cleveland, OH Mahalls United States
With Austin Vaughn
02/28/14 Oberlin, OH Oberlin University United States
With Austin Vaughn
02/27/14 Washington DC The Comuniverse United States
With Austin Vaughn
02/26/14 Philadelphia, PA Yell Gallery United States
With Austin Vaughn + RSK
02/08/14 Brooklyn, NY Pete’s Candy Store United States
Time: 4:00pm. Early Show!!!! Duo with Sleepers Work
01/27/14 Brooklyn, NY Manhattan Inn United States
With Pet Bottle Ningun
12/10/13 Brooklyn, NY The Launchpad United States
w/Drew Williams Nonet and People’s Games
12/05/13 Pittsburgh, PA The Shop United States
12/04/13 Milwaukee, WI Sugar Maple United States
w/Rob Lundberg and Russ Johnson
12/03/13 Madison, WI Shockrasonika United States
Address: 1218 E Mifflin St.. w/Rob Lundberg, Noxroy, Devin Drobka
11/23/13 Chicago, IL Transistor United States
w/Jason Stein Solo
11/22/13 South Bend, IN Meriman’s Playhouse United States
11/21/13 Oberlin, OH Oberlin University United States
11/20/13 Buffalo, NY Nieztsche’s United States
10/12/13 New Haven, CT Uncertainty Music Series United States
10/11/13 New York, NY Spectrum United States
With Girls & God and Twins of El Dorado
10/10/13 Hudson, NY The Spotty Dog United States
with Loud & Sad
10/09/13 Cambridge, MA Lilypad United States
10/07/13 Providence RI 186 Carpenter Street United States
10/05/13 Asheville, NC Apothecary United States
10/04/13 Greensboro, NC The Flatiron United States
With Heralding and Floco Torres
10/03/13 Richmond VA BoyzHouse (House Show) United States
with Will Bollinger & Brother Wolf
10/01/13 Baltimore, MD Windup Space United States
w/Out of Your Head Collective
05/06/13 Lafayette, IN Black Sparrow United States
With Steven Lugerner
05/05/13 Milwaukee, WI Sugar Maple United States
05/04/13 South Bend, IN Meriman’s Playhouse United States
With Steven Lugerner
05/03/13 Chicago, IL Transistor United States
With Steven Lugerner & Mike Weis
05/02/13 Ann Arbor, MI Canterbury House United States
With Steven Lugerner
04/30/13 Hudson, NY The Spotty Dog United States
With Steven Lugerner & Mrs Adam Schatz
04/01/13 Brooklyn, NY Cameo Gallery United States
Admission: $8. With Anthony LaMarca, Mrs. Adam Schatz, Ross Edwards
03/24/13 New Haven, CT The Outer Space United States
Admission: Free. With Chris Cretella
03/23/13 Hartford, CT Phase Shift United States
03/22/13 Burlington, VT Radio Bean United States
Time: 9:00pm.

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