Michiana for Saxophone Alone
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Michiana for Saxophone Alone

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Jonah Parzen-Johnson + Steven Lehman Trio with Carlos Horns"

Reed's Bass Drum saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson presents a new solo series, Michiana, on the 10pm set; before him at 8pm, altoist Steve Lehman leads a set by his nimble trio with guest pianist Carlos Homs. - TimeOut NY

"Listen Up!"

JONAH PARZEN-JOHNSON is a baritone saxist living in Brooklyn. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, he was nurtured by members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and since moving to New York has emerged as a unique voice in acoustic improvised music.
Teachers: Mwata Bowden, Joe Lovano, Lenny Pickett, Brian Lynch, Ron Blake, Ralph Lalama, Joe Temperley,
George Garzone.
Influences: Bill Callahan, Cecil Payne, Jimmy Giuffre 3, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Joanna Newsom, Colin Stetson, Pepper Adams, Smithsonian Folkways, Leo Parker, Neil Young’s solo recordings, Frank Sinatra.
Current Projects: My solo saxophone project Michiana For Saxophone Alone; Brooklyn AfroBeat band Zongo Junction; collective trio Reed’s Bass Drum; Eyal Vilner Big Band; Tiffany Chang’s Free Association.
By Day: Completing my Masters in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music, freelance music archiving and trying to compose melodies that make people smile.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I heard the Art Ensemble of Chicago perform their Second Mandel Hall Concert in Chicago when I was 15.
Dream Band: I would love to see more collaboration between different bands. It would be wonderful to share a bill with Dave King Trucking Company, The Vandermark 5 or Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin.
Did you know? I discovered the saxophone by listening to a recording of it on the Grolier Encyclopedia CD-ROM when I was eight years old.
For more information, visit jonahpj.com. Parzen-Johnson is at The Stone solo Aug. 24th. - New York Jazz Record

"Reed’s Bass Drum"

The mellow yet tightly constructed tunes of Reed’s Bass Drum might put you in mind of the similarly styled sax-bass-drums collective Fly. But the Brooklyn band, fronted by baritone player Jonah Parzen-Johnson, begins to carve out an original concept on its new disc, Which Is Which. - TimeOut New York

"Live Performance Reviews"

Reed’s Bass Drum is the nom de plume of a talented collective banded together to explore the possibilities of the saxophone trio format. Baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson, bassist Noah Garabedian, and drummer Aaron Ewing all met while studying jazz at New York University. It was perhaps this academic environment, where the tra- ditional and the avant-garde are equally accessible, that caused Reed’s Bass Drum to infuse the standard bebop sax trio with a modern sensibility incorporat- ing odd time signatures, polyrhythms, and a melding of through-composition and improvisation. On the heels of the release of their debut recording, Which Is Which, the group showcased their most recent musi- cal ?ndings at saxophonist John Zorn’s eclectic Al- phabet City venue, ?e Stone.
Playing through a cadre of original composi- tions in the barebones, black box theater of a venue, the performance had a hushed, recital-like quality. As such, it was more an exposition of progress to date rather than a restatement of completed work. ?e journey of ?nding the music, however, can be just as exhilarating, if not more so, than its inevitable con- clusion. Watching these young, talented musicians engaged in the act of discovery proved exciting on its own merits.
“Which is Which”, penned by Ewing, laid out a blueprint for the band’s concept. An odd-time groove in the melody kept the music ?oating along, while the solo section emerged as an opportunity for Parzen-Johnson to blow behind a solid common time feel. ?e somewhat unusual combination of baritone saxophone, bass, and drums allowed each instrument to be heard clearly, each component audible both as an independent thread and part of the overall tex- ture. While rooted in the tradition of saxophone-led trios, Reed’s Bass Drum generally stays clear of those well-worn ?elds, choosing instead to plod away in less trampled areas.
A composition by Garabedian, “No, A Shark”, demanded an equal amount of melody from each member of the trio. ?e tune’s contrapuntal texture allowed the instruments to rotate between leading and complementary roles. Garabedian supplied little ?lls between spurts of Parzen-Johnson’s melody, while Ewing interjected compelling, melodic phrases from the drums. Parzen-Johnson’s warm, round sound on the baritone ?lled up the sonic space on his solo before a thoughtful dialogue emerged between the bass and drums. ?e delicate texture continued for the duration of the tune before coming to rest with an outro for baritone and bass.
Playing with a collected focus belying their age, the trio moved to “Changes”, a Parzen-Johnson composition displaying a chamber-like propensity for counterpoint, thoughtful arrangements, and
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consideration for the possibilities of the given in- strumentation. A strong, punchy tone emerged from Parzen-Johnson’s baritone, propelled by intricate melodic lines and periodic ascents into the upper register of the horn while wisely and conspicuously staying out of Garabedian’s bass register. “A?er ?e Almonds Fell”, another quirky-titled Garabedian composition, elicited some tasty hand drumming on the snare and a funky beat from Ewing. Garabedian facilitated the proceedings with solid all-around bass playing and an authoritative tone.
Parzen-Johnson’s composition “Stretches” pro- vided an ideal vehicle to do just what the tune’s name implies – stretch out. A blistering solo emanated from the baritone saxophone as Parzen-Johnson revealed a prodigious technical grasp of the instru- ment. “Yatra”, a more abstract piece by Garabedian, featured some communicative interplay amongst the musicians, particularly baritone and drums at the outset. Ewing supplied a strong drum solo near the song’s conclusion to bring the band back in. ?e per- formance came to an end with “When You Listen”, a mid-tempo tune in 5/4 by Parzen-Johnson that highlighted a solo contribution from each member of the band.
Reed’s Bass Drum is clearly a group looking for something, hungry for a new, individual sound – musical alchemists seeking out a formula to turn mundane materials into gold. ?e chase can be quite thrilling to watch. Reed’s Bass Drum will continue to evolve and grow while developing a unique musi- cal identity, and that is something we can all be ex- cited about. - Jazz Inside Magazine

"Reed's Bass Drum"

Reed’s Bass Drum is a Brooklyn based trio jazz collective which is focusing on music composition as dialogue for the drums, bass and baritone saxophone. While the dialogue may not speak to you directly, it does have something to say.

The trio consists of Jonah Parzen-Johnson on baritone, Noah Garabedian on bass and Aaron Ewing on drums. While not the first time a trio format has featured these instruments, it is a different set-up from the usual piano, bass and drum trios of the past and present.

Third song in titled “Changes” gives an example of what changes Reed’s Bass Drum is trying to achieve, though any baritone player cannot escape sounding like past baritone players. Steady bass line from Garabedian with a stop start format then off to the races. This is almost a cousin to any sort of up-tempo Mulligan composition.

Since this is a trio format, there is ample opportunity for the musicians and the musicianship to grow and be shown. “At a Glance” is an example of this. This allows bassist Garabedian and drummer Ewing to play around in time signatures and point/counter-point without getting too complicated or sounding messy.

The album ends with “Yatra” and it could not be a finer ending. Parzen-Johnsons stands solo on the introduction followed by Garabedian on mimic lined bass. Drummer Ewing’s brush drumming bass only adds to the overall texture.

While the compositions are strong, there is always going to be that comparisons to other baritones. While that is not a bad thing, when a collective is trying to move forward and not be compared or contrasted to the previous, it will be hard. Reed’s Bass Drum have their walkin’ shoes on and are moving in the right direction. - Jazz Times

"Baristas: Ronnie Cuber, Roger Rosenberg & Reed's Bass Drum"

Do baritone saxophonists get insufficient respect? Worthy recordings by an elder master, a mid-career pro and a genial parvenu suggest they might deserve quite a bit more....

...Jonah Parzen-Johnson, 30-something baritonist from Chicago, appears less as a leader on Which Is Which than as the foremost participant in a collective trio—with bassist Noah Garabedian and drummer Aaron Ewing—whose playful apellation designates its three voices. With no comfy chordal axes to guide or dictate, Reed's Bass Drum applies a constructivist process: their grazing passes over what's on the usual jazz buffet; they sample judiciously, tasting their way from track to track, taking small bites, chewing well, savoring and digesting with discrimination. They lead listeners along with care through their findings: tracks often segue one to the next in stealthy progression, explored cautiously in chromatic increments. "No, A Shark" bouncily develops a phrase from the title track; "Changes" and "At A Glance" grow similar motifs, possibly shoots from Gerry Mulligan's 1954 quartet. These thoughtful lads make many fine musical points in 44 minutes; the lead instrument being baritone sax, rather than (say) pocket trumpet, gives their whole essay more heft, more gravitas.
- All About Jazz

"Reed's Bass Drum"

In addition to being a safe haven for local bands to experiment, the Lily Pad (like Outpost 186, its cousin around the corner) also imports its fair share of standout acts from out of town. In the fall, it was Mike Reed's People, Places & Things from Chicago and Toronto trumpeter Lina Allemano. This winter, my bet is on the trio Reed's Bass Drum (no relation to Mike) out of Brooklyn, with baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson, bassist Noah Garabedian, and drummer Aaron Ewing. Parzen-Johnson is a formidable voice on bari, and the band play the kind of post-bop — knotty tunes, strong grooves, lots of freedom — that has kept the avant-garde alive while shifting the mainstream to the left. - Boston Phoenix

"Jazz Links Lions"

"...Baritone saxophonist Jonah Parzen-Johnson played with irresistible verve and promise."

Copyright (c) 2006, Chicago Tribune
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


- Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

"Kenny Werner"

"A surprisingly mature voice making some great music. Seriously musical." - Jazz Pianist, Author & Educator

"Reed's Bass Drum @ Bowery Poetry Club 4/18/09"

I enjoyed this trio. I like a good baritone trio and thought they were all talented.
- Terri's Music Blog

"ViCE Jazz hosts casual, cultured night in Matthew's Mug"

The song was a successful mix of a solid rhythm and an exceptionally animated bass line, along with very bright motifs from the saxophone. During the second half of the show, Reed’s Bass Drum played “Like Pepper,” “Living Conditions” and “The Roost” from its recently released first album. “Like Pepper” had a slower rhythm, although the saxophone solo was again very dynamic. The vivid and fast-paced bass line maintained in these other songs from the album did its part to get people dancing.
The music of Reed’s Bass Drum definitely feels like jazz, but it’s not hard to recognize the influence from many other genres of music. The songs depict an eclectic array of pop, classical, rock and roll, country and even oriental elements.
- Gulfem Demiray (Assistant Arts Editor) - The Miscellany News (Vassar College)

"Reed's Bass Drum - EP"

This New York-based sax-bass-drum band are pure worshippers of their craft, unyielding in their dedication to the lighter and lazier aspects of meandering jazz. Reed's Bass Drum have earned a healthy dose of my admiration for adhering to a stripped-down sound devoid of any pop hybridization.

Bass Drum takes its joyful time exploring every little nook and cranny of its loving genre, offering nary an apology for its minimalist structure and other winding, circular riffs. Parzen-Johnson and company take delight in the cyclical nature of their journey, thus lending their music a formidable (if unnerving) respect from casual listeners. This record is, in other words, the jazz equivalent of hardcore thrash metal, appealing to a thin-but-pure slice of dedicated acolytes.

The opening "Like Pepper" is, like much of Bass Drum's work, patient and unyielding, skipping and swirling for six minutes before giving way the seven-minute expose that is "Numbers or Letters." Likewise, the concluding "The Roost" pushes post-modern jazz interpretation for eight minutes. By the time the EP cascades into its soft ending, nonbelievers will feel like they've run a marathon on one leg, while aficionados will swear it has delivered aural nirvana. Though I'm of the former group, the truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in the middle, with the music of Reed's Bass Drum remaining true to a masterful if highly inaccessible form of jazz.

Kevin Liedel, MuzikReviews.com Sr. Staff
June 9, 2009
For Questions or Comments On This Review Send An Email To kliedel@muzikreviews.com
© MuzikReviews.com - Kevin Liedel, MuzikReviews.com




Jonah Parzen-Johnson is a baritone saxophonist living in Brooklyn, NY. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Jonah was surrounded and inspired by the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and South Side music community. He moved to New York in 2006. Jonah can be found performing, Michiana, his solo baritone saxophone work, as well as with the collective trio Reed’s Bass Drum. He is a regular member of the Afrobeat ensemble, Zongo Junction, and has appeared on recordings by artists including Those Darlins, Kenny Werner, and The Relatives.

Michiana is a small beach town situated on the border between the states of Michigan and Indiana. The Michiana solo saxophone pieces are a collection of melodies and structures composed with memories of Michiana as references. In exploring his childhood experiences at this beach town, Parzen-Johnson was overtaken with the desire to contextualize his emotional response. It seems that the powerful nostalgia he felt when he looked back on these moments is a wonderful place from which to draw musical ideas.

The compositions presented for this project utilize melody in conjunction with shifts in tonal color and noise techniques to paint a landscape of joyful melancholy. The music is heavily influenced by archival recordings of American folk music as well as the work of Joanna Newsom, Jose Gonzalez, Devendra Banhart, and Bill Callahan. By arranging, adapting, and interpreting this music for solo saxophone, Parzen-Johnson is able to highlight the emotional qualities that are so striking in these musicians’ compositions.

In the Michiana Solo Saxophone series, Parzen-Johnson convincingly melds 20th century American musical sentiments with, 21st century folk music, and jazz experimentalism. The result is a highly captivating musical experience.