We Jazz records is proud to announce an  inspired set of music for baritone sax and electronics, by Brooklyn-based saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson, captured at Helsinki’s We Jazz Festival in December 2018. The mood of the set is intense, with Parzen-Johnson’s powerful music blending perfectly with the spacious feel of the room. His commentary in between songs gives the set a communal feel, which can now thankfully be revisited in the warm spirit of this wonderful evening of music.

Here’s what Jonah says about it:

“I perform in a constant state of reaction. Rather than reaching for a specific compositional framework, or textural aesthetic, I’m looking for a partnership. Like any real partnership, I will sometimes expect more than I deserve, and sometimes compromise more than I feel like I should. I will recalibrate, doubt, become overconfident, challenge, experiment, give, and be grateful. But regardless of the state of our partnership, I will always remind myself that nothing I create can exist without the connection between me and those who choose to listen.

The concert in Helsinki was a special iteration of this partnership. I’m still learning how to adjust to environments where basically everyone is a stranger, but by the end of these kinds of shows I often feel a warmth and affinity that used to feel very rare. When I listen back to the recordings I hear the sound of rain water rushing from the roof and the unique decay of sound reverberating through the bespoke space, and instantly feel a sense of gratitude as I relive the partnership at the core of this set, and imagine being able to share it with you.”

The release is tape only in terms of its physical distribution, while also a digital version is offered for streaming and download. “Helsinki 8.12.18” by Jonah Parzen-Johnson is a part of the ongoing “We Jazz Live Plates” series documenting the label’s live activities.


Jonah Parzen-Johnson, a resident of Brooklyn NY, plays 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 unique combination of analog synthesizer components sitting on the floor in front of him. It all breathes together, as he uses his feet to weave square and sawtooth waves into a surging base for folk inspired saxophone melodies, overblown multi phonics, and patiently developed circular breathing passages. Every element is performed and recorded live, solo, without any looping, overdubbing or recorded samples. It is music with texture, and depth, but most of all, it is direct and grounded in performance. Jonah remains deeply committed to music that connects to the listener.

In July 2017, Jonah released his third full length solo album, ‘I Try To Remember Where I Come From’ (Clean Feed). The release has been described as, “haunted by abstraction but guided by a compassionate pulse,” (New York Times), as it, “vividly channels free-jazz with elements of improvisation and composition, combining to create a sustained meditative mood, transporting listeners to another world.” (Downbeat Magazine). A Chicago native, Jonah’s circular breathing, multi-phonics and inclusively experimental style owe a debt to the Chicago saxophone legacy, but his devotion to a quirky almost vocal approach places him in new territory for the instrument. Since 2012, Jonah has toured over 40 thousand miles, by himself, across the US and Canada. Highlights include shows at The Stone in New York NY, Cultergest in Lisbon, Constellation in Chicago IL, Suoni Per il Popolo festival in Montreal, and the Creative Music Guild Improvisors Summit in Portland OR. Along with playing solo, he is a co- leader of Brooklyn Afrobeat outfit, Zongo Junction, and an active part of Brooklyn NY’s independent and experimental music communities. He has appeared as a sideman with, Adia Victoria, This Is The Kit, Landlady, and Ex Reyes, among others.

Pre-order link: https://wejazzrecords.bandcamp.com/album/helsinki-81218

Website: http://jonahpj.com/

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6/6 – Cafe Coda – Madison WI
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