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Jonah Parzen-Johnson, Brian Grimm

  • Arts + Literature Laboratory 2021 Winnebago Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

New York City-based musician Jonah Parzen-Johnson's solo material combines baritone sax with a chain of synthesizer modules and effects pedals—a combination that offers all manner of textural possibilities, as explored on releases like 2015's Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow. But Parzen-Johnson brings this configuration into thrilling focus on the new album I Try To Remember Where I Come From, out July 7. The sax is throaty and spacious, and modulated figures run tautly alongside the un-effected signal from the instrument. Parzen-Johnson is controlling all this in the moment without loops or overdubs, so all his limbs are pretty busy. Yet throughout the album, the sax and synth cohere in yearning and beautifully vulnerable melodies that sometimes reach into the blues, as on "These Shoulders, Those Shoulders" (the album's title is a reflection on the fact that Parzen-Johnson is a white musician drawing largely on black music) and sometimes elegantly slide around pulsating synth figures, as on "Too Many Dreams." This album is a tightly constructed set of seven songs, experimental in approach but full of compositional purpose. And whatever's going on with the electronics at any given moment, Parzen-Johnson's sax rumbles and trembles with conviction. —Scott Gordon

Later Event: July 12
Hidden Histories (free)