Jonah Parzen-Johnson is a baritone saxophonist based in Brooklyn, New York. He was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up on Chicago's South Side. He completed a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies at New York University in 2010, and a Master of Music in jazz saxophone at Manhattan School of Music in 2012. In Chicago, Parzen-Johnson studied under Mwata Bowden, a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
He is a member of Zongo Junction, a Brooklyn Afrobeat ensemble, for which he performs and composes. Jonah Parzen-Johnson performs regularly as a solo saxophonist and his music for solo baritone saxophone and analog synthesizer, balances simple melodic passages with extended techniques including circular breathing, multiphonics, and overtones. Parzen-Johnson's solo music explores his interest in folk music and avant-jazz.
Since 2013, Parzen-Johnson has performed with an analog synthesizer built around a Moog Synthesizer VCO, and Dave Smith Instruments Mopho Module. His self-assembled synthesizer is built to follow the volume of his saxophone and a set of pedals he plays with his feet. In June 2015, Parzen-Johnson released his second solo album featuring saxophone & his custom synthesizer, and spent two months touring 34 US cities in support of the record. In an exercise to connect with people, and create empathy in all of the cities he visited, Parzen-Johnson collected three reasons to live in each city, and in November 2015 he released them as a paperback book called Three Reasons to Live Here.
As A Leader
- Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow (Primary Records, 2015)
- Look Like You're Not Looking - 7" (Primary Records, 2013)
- Michiana (Primary Records, 2012)
As A Co-Leader
- Zongo Junction No Discount (Electric Cowbell Records, 2014)
- Zongo Junction The Van That Got Away (Primary Records, 2012)
- Zongo Junction Thieves! (2009)
- Reed's Bass Drum Which is Which (2009)