Press Quotes


Daniel Spicer


Folklords is one of the most adventurous albums to be issued by Delmark Records since Levels and Degrees of Light, the auspicious recording debut of pianist and composerMuhal Richard Abrams in 1967.

Sometimes, an artist’s lack of boundaries can morph into the death certificate of a listener’s interest. So when a musician comes along who is able to indulge themselves and engage the listener, it’s a special occasion

This record is dreamlike & hypnotic

DownBeat - David Kunian

"Your voice is like cotton candy cloud lips opening"

Xenia Rubinos




Ambitious, adventurous, and very unique, Ajemian has managed to do something pretty outstanding, channeling a futuristic sound into the present day resulting in an album of material that is immensely listenable while being totally unfamiliar.


-Andrew Lampel


"Jason Ajemian is that rare visionary with the chops and ambition to realize his vision- his newest album lies somewhere between James Chance and James Brown ( just beyond the Mingus city limits).  When I listen to this music, I really feel like I’ve been somewhere. Great stuff.”


- Marc Ribot

"deep-murk funk grooves"

- Nate Chinin, NYTimes


"There's nothing more burtal than a journalist protecting his craft professionalism"

- Larry Kart

"The diagrams, with individual songs contained in sharp-cornered, kite-shaped rooms, should probably never be translated to actual buildings, but in practice, their sounds are perfect shelters from convention."

Peter Marcia, Fader 70


article by Scott Burton for RVA Jazz


LEO: How many groups do you work with? Do you lose track of who’s doing what and when?

JA: I work with the entire population of the world on one level or the other. But with players, I don’t have to keep track — it’s a matter of trust. It’s why I choose to work with professionals. It’s symbiotic.

Hush Arbors / JA: 2 of us riding nowhere preview

"Champagne for real friends, real pain for sham friends — in the end, it behooves us to know the difference. And for these two musicians at least, that distinction probably couldn’t be any more defined."

Free Times, Columbia S.C. feature: Logan K. Young

SILBER RECORD: QRD:: Interview with 40 Bassist

QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?

Jason – I don’t mean to get Jarreau on you, but “We’re in this love together."

QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?

Jason – Getting down with the bonus, stretching, mind power, avoiding nerds.

RVA Jazz News: Ten Questions with Jason Ajemian

"I saw an interview with Thomas Kincade that made me want to put an M-80 in the urinal at TGI Fridays but I opted to bust a move on the waitress. Love is the answer."


Jason Ajemian and The Highlife have managed to take traditional jazz instruments out of context to produce something fascinating and truly original on Let Me Get That Digital. They have an acute knowledge of not only when to hold back the fireworks, but also when to launch them, and they will be consistently thrilling because of this.

Click to view the full review...

—Gordon Bruce, Tiny Mix Tapes

From Beyond:

The preview of the Moderna Museet’s exhibition “Eclipse: Art in a Dark Age”

Who Cares How Long You Sink:

Time Out Chicago / Issue 148 : Dec 27, 2007–Jan 2, 2008

Best local albums of 2007

Matthew Lurie - Time Out Chicago

Who Cares How Long You Sink:

"Folk Forms Evaporate Big Sky is what music is for, to define, undefine and redefine, to forget and remember, to struggle and release?and most importantly, to be inventively and innovatively musical."

Foxy Digitalis: review

Who Cares How Long You Sink: Self Titled

"Music has an awesome power that even in its laziness and tranquility; it exudes this awesome, life-affirming power. Stop me now, if I'm starting to sound like one of those TV spinsters, but it's the truth. Having heard a piece of music that is breathtaking, I immediately stop whatever it is that I'm doing and take note. I'm all ears. It's just me and the sounds coming out of those speakers. Jason Ajemian's new record is one such release. Compositions he pens are works of real beauty."


- Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta

Who Cares How Long You Sink:

"While Folk Forms Evaporate Big Sky contains a mere five songs, each one inherits enough depth and intuitiveness to express more ideas than most contemporary bands have expressed in their entire careers."

Obscure Sound Feature by Mike Mineo

The parts are (almost all) related to one another without interruption,
so that even the short fragments are dissolved in being part of a single
scintillating suite that we can define 'cosmic jazzfunk' but only for
lack of more suitable terms. (7 / 8)

Stephen I. Bianchi, Blow Up Magazine


"both cuts are performed well and done so in an entertaining way, which is not surprising considering the source. Ajemian and crew remain one of my favorites to be watched"

Foxy Digitalis: review


"Bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Nori Tanaka have been regular thursday-night  fixtures at Rodan, sometimes in a trio with guitarist Jeff Parker but just as often in an idiosyncratic improv duo.  Starting with precomposed melodic fragments, the music moves organically from Tanaka's fierce swirling grooves to Ajemian's meditative, standalone arco passages.   Ajemian adds spontaneous vocals that range from howled chants to original poems sung as the kind of raw, plaintive folk music that the native of Virginia's mountain country seems to have in his blood."


Peter Margasak - Critics Choice, Chicago Reader.



"Ajemian has offered a different view while also producing a quite viable musical concept,and an excellent listening experience for those of us fortunate to be alive"

Art of Dying: Billboard

Before the band took the stage, the show was opened by Jason Ajemian, one of Helado Negro's touring musicians. With only a double bass and no amplification to speak of, Jason coaxed the audience to the floor below the stage, politely asked for their attention, and then received it in full. While his request was polite, his music demanded it. For an instrument that is normally relegated to providing accompaniment for a melody, he made the beast sing, eliciting sounds far outside its usual range. The result was something between beat poetry and the Velvet Underground's 'The Black Angel's Death Song' had it been composed with bass instead of violin. In other words, intoxicating, impressive and innovative. The highlight for me was his cover of Lee Hazelwood's 'No Train to Stockholm,' a hauntingly beautiful rendition to be sure.

Jack Diablo - EU Jacksonville

Another brilliant document verifying Chicago's ancient to the future jazz aesthetic, The Art of Dying is a vibrant example of what lies ahead.

Troy Collins, All About Jazz

"'Protest Heaven' refers to when the faith in religion turns destructive. Although this music is mainly improvised, Jason has edited it down to a more focused work that tries to capture certain ideas that he was contemplating. I dig that Jason has chosen sections when the improvisations come together and something interesting occurs, not solos per se but interconnections and successful interaction. This is a mixed crew with members from Chicago (Mazurek & Parker) and players from NY (Malaby & Taylor) plus Jason has moved here recently as well. There is a great section where Rob's cornet, Jeff's guitar & Tony's tenor spin out those jazz lines around one another furiously. Once again, the warmth of vinyl makes this sound even better like sitting right in front of the band as they are playing. Moving from somber moments to more explosive sections, this quintet sounds inspired and focused throughout. Malaby's tenor erupts on Side 2 while Rob's cornet & Jeff's guitar swirl around him more calmly. At times it seems as if there are a couple of subgroups playing simultaneously, each one connecting on different levels while the tempo increases or decreases. If true freedom was the real religion of today, then this disc exemplifies what it means to be connected but not controlled. Completely solid jackson!" — Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

"...a staggering performance by five stellar musicians. Free jazz at its best : expressive, innovative, joint creativity, instant composing, and first and foremost a great listening experience. Don't miss it." — Free Jazz

"here comes some good stuff, finally lined up with a company who's working with a ton of abstract & improv musicians..." — Sonic Dissonance

"The music, although improvised, has a choreographed texture. That's attributable to the players, whose purpose is to make music. Grandstanding is not heard here." — All About Jazz

While the talented cast dazzles, what comes across most strongly on this 42-minute LP is the controlling mind of bassistJ ason Ajemian.