Originally from Chicago, baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson calls Brooklyn, N.Y. home these days but absorbed the creative spirit resident in the Windy City's progressive jazz legacy early on his career, studying and performing with some of the best. For example, he learned a great deal under the tutelage of woodwinds master Mwata Bowden, who is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. With his fourth album as a leader and first for Clean Feed, the artist once again pushes the envelope via his superb baritone sax work and use of an analog synth. And while initial thoughts of experimentalism come to mind, the adage man vs. machine, equates to more of a partnership here.
Parzen-Johnson recorded this outing live to two-track tape with no overdubs. Many of these works are engineered with melodic synth patterns and looping ostinatos. But the saxophonist synchs his fluid jazz lines with the electronics component into a harmonious framework that at times, elicit notions of classic European space rock. Many of the passages are designed with cyclical motifs and the leader's lyrically rich phrasings and tonalities.
On "What Do I Do With Sorry," Parzen-Jonson's brawny extended notes contrast the sparkling synth notes amid an oscillating groove, marked with buoyant rhythmic measures and forceful momentum. Yet, "I Have Questions" is built with undulating EFX and textural patterns and a memorably melodic storyline. Here, the saxophonist adds a blanket of warmth with his tuneful choruses. And while the album only clocks in at 35-minutes or so, each piece is a standalone delight and yields great replay value, sans any filler material whatsoever. It's a beaut!
Track Listing: Cabin Pressure; These Shoulders, Those Shoulders; Guns Make Us Murderers; Too Many Dreams; What Do I Do With Sorry; I Have Questions; I Try To Remember Where I Come From.
Personnel: Jonah Parzen-Johnson: baritone saxophone, analog synthesizers.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.