I submitted a review to the NYC Jazz Record of Jonah Parzen-Johnson’s most recent albums, Helsinki 8.12.18 from last year and Imagine Giving Up (release date January 17, 2020). They are good recordings from one of the most interesting and individual musicians on the jazz/improvisation/new music scene. Going through them got me re-listening to his two previous releases, I Try To Remember Where I Came From and Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow.
Both are excellent albums, recommended without caveat. Parzen-Johnson plays the baritone saxophone and accompanies himself with a custom analog synthesizer rig. He makes songs, with regular harmonies and phrases, but that doesn’t begin to describe how his music sounds, which is something like a musician playing inside a dimension created by Kraftwerk. He gets the classic, sequenced bleeps and bloops going then digs in on the horn, juxtaposing breath against voltage.
I find this music utterly compelling and also thrilling in an uncanny way. There’s something so innocent about it, but what it presents is complex and challenging. It’s a confrontation between man and machine, and you can sing along.