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Album Review

Berke Can Özcan, Jonah Parzen-Johnson: Friendship Music for Turkey


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Berke Can Özcan,  Jonah Parzen-Johnson: Friendship Music for Turkey
The Brooklyn-based Chicagoan Jonah Parzen-Johnson has created clever, thought-provoking lo-fi music across all six of his previous releases. Each is a solo performance with Parzen-Johnson on baritone saxophone and a customized analog synthesizer. His work is entirely unique, but with a passing nod to the birthright of great Chicago saxophonists. Istanbul's Berke Can Özcan is a drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, who describes himself as something of a continual work-in-progress. Across his previous seven genre-less recordings, he has worked with a diverse array of associates spanning John Zorn, Pearl Jam, and the Armenian Navy Band. Influenced by more than three generations of his artistic family in Turkey, Özcan met with Parzen-Johnson for only a few hours before the duo recorded the drummer's compositions for Friendship Music for Turkey.

The album consists of two extended pieces, largely improvisational. The background sound of children haunts sections of "Giant's Sleep." The brooding baritone and wash of cymbals carry a refined melancholy, which is occasionally broken by the quietly menacing trill of a synthesizer. An ominous chorus of drones takes the track out with solemnity. Özcan's drums are more present in "Roots." He deftly balances the sharper qualities of the kit with the overall atmospheric reserve. There is a hymnal character to "Roots," emphasized by the synthesizers' mimicry of bass, organ, and harmonium. Amid the repetitive melodies, the chimes, bells, and percussion effects add just enough messiness to enlarge the earthy scope of the music.

This is not Parzen-Johnson's first venture into philanthropy. The saxophonist contributed a solo track to Music for Ukraine (We Jazz Records, 2022), with those sales providing aid to the people of Ukraine. His agility and mastery of extended techniques pair nicely with the subtle, global style of Özcan. Friendship Music for Turkey is moving, minimal music which evocatively swells to make its broader point. One hundred percent of the album's proceeds will go to earthquake relief in Turkey and there is the possibility of an extended version of the album at a later date.

Track Listing

Giant's Sleep; Roots.


Jonah Parzen-Johnson: saxophone, baritone; Berke Can Özcan: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Jonah Parzen-Johnson: electronics; Berke Can Özcan: electronics.

Album information

Title: Friendship Music for Turkey | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Self Produced

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