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I Try To Remember Where I Come From

by Jonah Parzen-Johnson

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I’m deeply grateful for my day to day. The act of creating and performing music gives my life a sense of motion, and I step into each day knowing that I have somewhere I want to go. But as I go about entertaining myself with my own creative process, I try to remember that music exists to communicate truth. I am a product of Chicago, and although I spent my most formative years in many incredible programs starting or ending with the word Jazz, it was the term Creative Music, a concept first introduced to me in my high school band room and explained over years of mentoring by South Side musicians, that formed my musical spark. As I derive my livelihood, and my life’s creative fulfillment from these musicians’ example, I have to remember that their tradition is not mine to claim. Black American music is a response to an environment of exclusion, oppression, and institutional silencing that I, a white American man, have not, and will never experience. Despite all of this, throughout my teenage years, Black musicians in Chicago shared their traditions, their gatherings, their bandstands, their living rooms, and their musical incites with me in a generous, and enduring way. I think a lot about how special it is that there are people in this world who have responded to the physical and mental silencing that is inextricably linked to the American story by creating something that has, at one time or another, warmly embraced nearly every person on earth. That’s what I was thinking about when I wrote these songs.


released July 7, 2017

Recorded live to two track without loops or overdubs by Aaron Nevezie at The Bunker. Mastered by Alex DeTurk at Strange Weather. Cover Illustration by Jonah Parzen-Johnson & Livia Miyadaira Ito. Produced by Jonah Parzen-Johnson. Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul. Design by Travassos.

Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Baritone Saxophone, Analog Synthesizers


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Jonah Parzen-Johnson Brooklyn, New York

I make music with baritone saxophone and electronic instruments.

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