Joy Mega is a group comprised of the crème (aka butter) of the NYC avant-jazz underground, realizing a set of coruscating, transcendent, cosmic pop music penned by bassist and vocalist, Jason Ajemian. Jason is widely known for his work with kin within the world of skewed, creative pop music. He's racked credits with Josephine Foster in Born Heller, Hush Arbors, Helado Negro, and perhaps most recently, backing Devendra Banhart at the Governor's Ball NYC. He also boasts a rep as a heavyweight improvisor, having worked in Marc Ribot’s Sun Ship, Matana Robert's CoinCoin, Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground Trio and Exploding Star Orchestra, and many more.
The contrasts and points of intersection between these seemingly separate musical orbits have made for some great music thus far. His efforts as a leader (three releases from his quintet, Jason Ajemian & the HighLife, on New Atlantis Records, and Smokeless Heat, a jazz record released in 2008 on Delmark, among many others) further emphasize this duality, and Forever is Something Inside You, Joy Mega's New Atlantis debut, is no different- a fresh distillation of a strong spirit in the American creative music underground.
Ajemian brought Joy Mega together in 2007, to explore the possibilities presented by incorporating vocals into an improvising ensemble- an idea which, for the most part, marks a departure from established convention in the improvised music community. Having recently relocated to New York City from Chicago, the group encompasses players from both cities. Saxophonist Matthew Bauder
and drummer Chad Taylor
now live in New York, but are old friends + collaborators from his days in Chicago. Guitarist Mary Halvorson
and violinist Jessica Pavone
, both known within their home of New York and beyond, are a perfect match for the group’s expansive sound. The arrangements leave ample room for melodic exploration. Songs expand and contract, each voice breathing in additional layers of lush melody.
Forever is Something Inside You traverses a tremendous breadth of stylistic ground, challenging the constraints of ‘genre’ music and offering a new noise in the process. The group will be playing select shows throughout the East Coast, Midwest, and Canada in the Fall.
"Yowza. A vehicle for the songwriting of New York mainstay Jason Ajemian, Joy Mega is something. What? I'm still not sure. Part hazy pop, part smoky jazz ballad, part bonkers free jazz, Joy Mega is honestly like nothing I've ever heard. Ajemian is joined by a powerful cast of
like-minded New York talent to expand the sonics here, with Mary Halvorson on guitar, Chad Tayor on drums, Matt Bauder on sax and Jessica Pavone.
on violin. I find it very difficult to actually describe this music with words. All of the previously mentioned components make an appearance, but as a whole it is so much more than those parts. This is an incredibly forward-thinking take on what pop songs filtered through a free jazz lens can yield. I've been listening to this pretty steady and I'm still not completely comfortable trying to peg this thing. 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. Is is most definitely not for everyone, but for those willing to open their ears to a new voice this is pretty cool stuff." -Andrew Lampel