Michiana for Saxophone Alone

Michiana for Saxophone Alone

 New York City, New York, USA

With his saxophone alone, Jonah Parzen-Johnson conjures a world of melancholic nostalgia. Drawing from the town of Michiana, his music roars with powerful harmony, delicate melody, & technical proficiency, drawing the audience into its universe. A truly unique solo saxophone experience.


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.