Maison douce maison

L’Orkestre des pas perdus / Rémi Leclerc, Jean-Denis Levasseur, Roberto Murray, Jean Sabourin, Claude St-Jean, Maxime St-Pierre

The band is hot and cheeky, a wild thing, kind of a brass band dixie mix. […] This band is about rhythm and sheer for-the-hell-of-it playing, yet it is a very disciplined band. They play apart together. Halifax Sunday Herald, Canada

Another entertaining adventure… a treat for any jazz fan Splendid E-Zine, USA

L’Orkestre des pas perdus is a six-piece brass ensemble founded in 1993, and “Maison douce maison” is their second album for Ambiances Magnétiques. Claude Saint-Jean, trombone player, composed and arranged this lively urban music.

Quite varied in style, the music on this disc can be listened to while driving a car or say, renovating a house: funk to paint the bedrooms and marching band-ska-house to dance in the living room, Arabic-like to move your belly and a somewhat scary piece for the kids. Boasting a fair intake of jazz and musique actuelle, this is what we could deem a fearless fanfare.

CD (AM 060)

  • Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
  • AM 060
  • 1998
  • UCC 771028106028
  • Total duration: 41:05
  • Jewel case
  • 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
  • 95 g

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In the press

A Gift Idea: Expand Someone’s Horizons

François Couture,, November 25, 2003

The Holidays are closing in. Are you wondering what gifts to buy this year? You’re looking for the original gift, the one that will surprise and please? Why not expand the musical horizons of a loved one, a colleague at work, or a cousin you haven’t seen since last Christmas? Here’s my highly personal selection of gift ideas to introduce someone (or yourself, you’re allowed to indulge from time to time!) to the wonderful world of “musique actuelle.”

That good ol’ song

It may seem a bit easy, but everyone likes a good song. That said, we don’t all have the same definition of what a good song is. And the artists in DAME’s catalog take some liberties with this format — that’s what makes things exciting. But Geneviève Letarte’s Chansons d’un jour will please anyone looking for songs with intelligent, accessible melodies and poetic lyrics. The soft melancholy of Chants des adieux, chants de la solitude will profoundly move dreamers in search of a different voice (Lou Babin’s, irresistible).

You don’t understand French? The lyrics of Jerry Snell’s album Life in the Suicide Riots will make you think hard about the world we live in. And the chugging guitar riffs of André Duchesne ’s Locomotive will catch the attention of any rock fan, even one deaf to French. Speaking of rock, the deconstructed rock of the all-female group Justine can keep you busy for a while, lyrics or no lyrics. Their first album (Suite) is a powerful mixture of progressist rock, while their second Langages fantastiques leans more toward improvised songs. If you want a taste of what songwriting avant-garde artists can come up with, try the compilation album Chante! 1985-2000, a wide and wild selection of unusual songs.

Party time

A time for celebrating, letting off steam, and disobedience, the party when applied to music can give way to a distortion of admitted rules. L’Orkestre des pas perdusinjects a new form of circus life into fanfare music, an infectious R ’n’ B (rhythm ’n’ brass, of course) that will refresh any parade. Its cousin Les Projectionnistes (both bands are led by Claude St-Jean) trades circus for rock and the brass section transforms from funny fanfare to frenetic funk. Taking a different approach, the Fanfare Pourpour leaves the official parade attire behind to favor the spontaneity of a street fanfare. It’s music for “everyone” (Tout le monde, the title of their first album) without dropping to the lowest common denominator.

In a similar spirit, but adding an East-European flavor and an incredible dose of energy is the group Interférence Sardines, which features two members of the neo-trad group Les Batinses. Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms walks a jazzier road, but its frivolous side easily becomes delightfully exuberant. The group’s three albums are all highly recommended, but Carnets de voyage remains an excellent place to start. And I find the same spirit of excessiveness and raw emotion in La boulezaille (Pierre Langevin and Pierre Tanguay) and Plinc! Plonc! (Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay), two albums where world music, jazz and free improvisation collide.

And to boldly go where few have gone before

Maybe you would like to go further and hook someone on a kind of “musique actuelle” that is more daring and abstract. Here are a few key albums from DAME’s catalogue in improvised and electronic music.

Martin Tétreault is one of the most fascinating experimental artists right now. His technique at the turntable spins 45 questions per minute. His recent album with Diane Labrosse, Parasites, puts disquieting quiet sounds under the microscope. And Studio — Analogique — Numérique, his fresh collaboration with the Japanese mastermind Yoshihide Otomo, proposes cutting-edge sonic research in very original packaging: a box set of three 3” CDs.

A pillar of the avant-garde music scene since the early ‘70s, Fred Frith remains the favorite of many connoisseurs. The two albums by the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet (with René Lussier, Nick Didkovsky and Mark Stewart) are essential listens. DAME also distributes the titles released by Frith’s own Fred Records.

One of the first groups from the DAME stables to have explored electroacoustic improvisation, the Klaxon Gueule trio revels in noisy textures and demanding pleasures. Their last two albums Muets and Grain met critical acclaim. And I also want to mention the Ohmix compilation album, a daring electronic project where select artists (including Martin Tétreault, David Kristian, John Oswald, Terre Thaemlitz, and Ralf Wehowsky) remix the albums of the label Avatar.

Finally, instead of sending out the usual Christmas cards, consider the sound post cards produced by the label Ouïe-Dire. These are regular post cards accompanied by 3” CDs from French experimental artists. And happy Holidays!


Steve Pedersen, Halifax Sunday Herald, February 20, 2000

Pas Perdus can mean lost steps, mad steps — take your choice — it all fits this wacky band. The word «perdu» also resonates in French with words like lost, ruined, distracted, doomed, and reckless. They call themselves a marching band-ska-house.

Such a description, if you didn’t hear them two years ago at the Atlantic Jazz Festival, will prepare you for this marvellously unbuttoned Montréal horn band who are brassy in every sense of the word.

The compositions and arrangements are all by trombonist, musical saw-yer, and player of various small percussion bric-a-brac, Claude St. Jean. The CD starts with a 5 second welcome track — the sound of a tone arm tracking a vinyl disc leads to a laid back 40s dance band playing You’re Driving Me Crazy. Then the tone arm scratches across the record, the hissing and popping disappears and the trombone/saxes start a typical Pas Perdu intro to Acetaminophene.

A characteristic funky rock-fusion bass line, eventually taken over by the tuba, supports solos and ensemble riffs over ricky-ticky sticks on muted cymbal and snare rim. The band is hot and cheeky, a wild thing, kind of a brass band dixie mix.

Sometimes, as in Route 20, with its deep 60s kind of mayhem, it is hard to believe there are only six players: trombone, alto sax (piccolo, clarinet) tenor sax (flute, mouth noises), sousaphone, trumpet/flugelhorn, percussion/drums and almost everybody plays a noisemaker or rattle of some description. It can be hair-raising.

Alto sax player Levasseur is a dangerous man (a dangereux zhom bloodline?). Typically the band begins a chart by establishing an off-kilter rhythmic lattice-work into whose spaces the melody instruments dodge in and out. This band is about rhythm and sheer for-the-hell-of-it playing, yet it is a very disciplined band. They play apart together.

Every track jumps to a different rhythmic groove, some with a sort of tangoish rhythm stitched together by the tuba and the sticks on the cymbals, and all of it sounding that gapped syncopated line. Incidentally on Arabesque, Levasseur plays a great, meaty piccolo solo. Piccolo may not be your normal jazz voice, though, in his too-refined way, Hubert Laws used to dazzle us with it. The substantial sound of Levasseur is a different animal altogether.

The band is hot and cheeky, a wild thing, kind of a brass band dixie mix. […] This band is about rhythm and sheer for-the-hell-of-it playing, yet it is a very disciplined band. They play apart together.


Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no. 41, September 1, 1999

A côté des figures emblématiques du collectif québècois, Lussier, Derome, Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse, Robert Marcel Lepage, et désormais Martin Tétreault, gravitent quelques musiciens, rencontrés au hasard des enregistrements des surnommés, tels Rémi Leclerc («Locomotive» et «Les Quatre Guitaristes» de Duchesne) ou Bernard Falaise («Klaxon Gueule» avec Michel F Côté), partenaires d’autres formations. L’Orkestre des pas perdus en est ainsi a sa deuxième réalisation et il cultive toujours son goût pour la fanfare.


Richard Moule, Exclaim!, May 1, 1999

Literally translated to mean Orchestra With Nothing to Lose, L’Orkestre des pas perdus is the most straightforward of the three artists. That is not to slight this six-piece brass ensemble. Indeed, on Maison douce maison, they move effortlessly from funk to New Orleans marching band style to Arabic-like melodies and even throwing in some ska. The album works fine on the feet, though perhaps, next time they could concentrate more on the head.


Matthew Martens, New Island Voice, April 1, 1999

For some years now Québec has been host to a thriving, all but indefinable music scene called Musique Actuelle, which is a constantly mutating hybrid of various kinds of avant-jazz, traditional folk styles and contemporary classical composition. No two artists under this rubric sound the same, some veering close to the plink-plonk free-improv of Derek Bailey, and others cozying up to the herky-jerky hyper-complexity of progressive rock bands like Henry Cow and Universe Zero. One thing they all share is a sense of fun and an irreverence toward their influences. Both qualities are evident in abundance on this second album by the all-instrumental, many-horned sextet L’Orkestre des Pas Perdus. From trumpet to trombone to sax, from flugelhorn to clarinet to sousaphone, brass and reeds rule. The drummer even plays a snare-piccolo contraption, so everyone’s blowin’ wind here somehow or other. The music is an infectious, rhythmically tricky conflation of Zappa, Ska and Count Basie, and all but begs to be dug. So dig.

Le Noir compact

Annie Landreville, Mouton Noir, December 1, 1998

Jazz, improvisations et funk débridés pour une musique des plus urbaines et exubérantes. Les joyeux fous de l’Orkestre des pas perdus qui compte dans ses rangs les, entre autres, tromboniste Claude St-Jean et le batteur Rémi Leclerc, ont concocté un deuxième album bourré d’énergie, de mélodies et d’éléments inusités qui arrive à la fois à surprendre, à intriguer et à amuser. Jouissif.

Avec tambours et trompettes

L’Express, November 10, 1998

Pour une raison ou une autre, peut être à cause de mauvais souvenirs de ces fanfares d’école, il se trouve encore des tas de gens pour reléguer les cuivres au rang des instruments indigestes. Ils acceptent volontiers le saxo, la trompette du jazz, qui jouent sur un autre registre, tirent d’autres cordes sensibles. Mais ces cuivres tonitruants, encore plus menaçants lorsqu’ils se retrouvent en bande - en brass band, pour être précis - très peu pour eux.

Pourtant, il suffit de jeter un coup d’œil du côté de la tradition italienne de la banda, ces fanfares de village qui ont longtemps servi de courroie de transmission entre le grand répertoire (l’opéra, surtout) et les petites gens, de s’ouvrir au charme vieillot des orchestres de l’armée du salut ou à l’irrésistible pulsion des marching bands de la Nouvelle-Orléans (dont le Dirty Dozen Brass Band serait l’incarnation moderne) pour comprendre qu’il n’y a rien de monolithique là-dedans.

Il y a deux ans, la bande-son de Chacun cherche son chat nous donnait l’occasion de découvrir Ceux Qui-Marchent-Debout, fébrile fanfare française qui véhiculait une sorte de folie populaire (dans le sens populo), mais surtout, une façon d’enrichir la tradition néo-orléanaise susmentionnée en l’ouvrant à d’autres influences.

Aujourd’hui, c’est au tour de L’Orkestre des Pas Pcrdus de reprendre le flambeau. Fondé par le tromboniste Claude St-Jean, ce sextuor québécois nous arrive avec Maison douce maison (Amblances Magnétiques Etcetera AM 060 /Distribution SRI), un premier album qui s’éloigne lui aussi des chemins trop balisés pour se perdre dans les ruelles du funk à la James Brown (le premier à avoir exploité le potentiel purement rythmique des cuivres), pour s’approprier les fébriles syncopations du ska et, sur l’étourdissant Spirale (où le saxophoniste Roberto Murray s’en donne à cæur joie), le délire onirique de Nino Rota, le compositeur-fétiche de Fellini.

Parfaitement équilibré entre l’écriture et l’improvisation (ce qui permet à chaque musicien de baliser son propre espace de liberté à l’intérieur d’un ensemble cohérent), Maison douce maison est le genre d’aventure à la fois ambitieuse et accessible qui risque fort de réconcilier les réfractaires précités aux plaisirs tonitruants de la fanfare - avec ou sans les majorettes.


GC, Minimal, no. 18, November 1, 1998


Andrew Magilow, Splendid E-Zine, October 19, 1998

Another entertaining adventure from a fine collective of Canadian musicians who are obvious admirers of the American jazz scene. With the brazen rhythm of the trombone and the tooting of accompanying saxophones, Acetaminophene has the resiliency of the American Big Band jazz sound, yet proves to be exceptionally well versed in modern jazz techniques and sounds as well. Bopping, shuffling and improvising are all parts of the whole with Route 20 as a rhythmically tight groove dissolves into a noisy multi-horn solo ensemble, and then tightens back into shape as quickly as a cracked whip. Unlike the majority of DAME releases, L’Orkestre avoids aggressive, experimental noise and instead opts for discriminating jazz passages that are familiar enough to please the young jazz fan, yet entice the seasoned listener as well, with complex structures and well played solos. However, as soon as L’Orkestre appears to have played all of their musical cards, they ease into Bricolage, in which flute and trumpet produce an ethereal and eerie feeling of Third Stream and 70s Miles Davis. Perhaps it’s a genre identity crisis? Nonetheless, this amalgamation of styles and ideas proves to be favorably entertaining, stylistically spicy and remarkably well rounded — a treat for any jazz fan.

Another entertaining adventure… a treat for any jazz fan

Disque de la semaine

Nicolas Tittley, Voir, October 8, 1998

Contrairement à ce que leur nom indique, Ies membres de L’OPP ne perdent jamais pied. Ils ne manquent surtout pas d’air dans cette fanfare de cuivres rutilants, seul le batteur Rémi Leclerc ne souffle pas dans son instrument, mais il déplace tellement d’air que ça ne se voit pas. Ici, le jazz se frotte avec bonheur au funk, au swing et même à la musique arabo-andalouse (voir Arabesque C). Non content de faire du trombone un instrument sexy et explosif, le compositeur Claude St-Jean sait aussi faire chanter la scie (tout comme son comparse Jean-Denis Levasseur) avec aplomb. Si ce disque vous laisse froid, vérifiez votre pouls. Vous étes peut-être déjà mort. Vous pouvez voir L’OPP pendant le FIJM. 4/5

Sunday picks

CY, Montreal Mirror, July 2, 1998

You could see L’Orkestre des Pas Perdus as true to its name: a brass band that’s wandered off the parade route and lost its way. But of course, that’s how some of the best music is made—by not following the route, or the rules. So Montréal’s L’Orkestre des Pas Perdus finds itself somewhere producing the jazz you might expect five homs and a drummer to make and this city’s vibrant musique actuelle. Now see if you can find them.

Pour les amateurs de musique actuelle

Jean-François Denis, SOCAN, Paroles & Musique, no. 5:7, July 1, 1998

Au cours des derniers mois le collectif de musique actuelle Ambiances Magnétiques a produit une série de disques portant son catalogue à plus de 60 titres. Le premier de cinq nouveautés brièvement présenté ici s’intitule Inédits et est la troisième compilation des membres d’Ambiances Magnétiques: Michel F Côté, Jean Derome, André Duchesne, Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse, Robert Marcel Lepage, René Lussier, Danielle Palardy Roger et Martin Tétreault. Contrairement aux deux premières compilations constituées de repiquages, Inédits présente justement 24 œuvres qui se trouvent sur disque pour la première fois.

Pierre Tanguay, batteur vedette des musiques actuelles, et Tom Walsh, tromboniste éclaté, ont enregistré Midi tapant. Des musiques qui sont à la fois planantes — par accumulation de couches sonores — et très dynamiques: Tanguay et Walsh jouent à plein poumon, à bras raccourcis.

Un trio ad hoc de bruististes improvisateurs électroacousticiens, Diane Labrosse (échantillonneur}, Ikue Mori (percussions électroniques} et Martin Tétreault (tourne-disques) offrent Île bizarre où l’oreille est attirée, menée dans tous les recoins de ce monde inventé, purement sonore, dont les sources sont méconnues. C’est un travail sur la surface des haut-parleurs et pour l’imaginaire qu’il déclenche dans mon écoute.

Chansons de Douve est un album double présentant la grande œuvre poétique de Pierre Cartier (sur des textes de Yves Bonnefoy). Hybride de musique ancienne et jazz improvisée, Chansons de Douve est constitué de 14 pièces strictement composées, mais laissant place aussi à l’instantanéité des interprètes, pour un ensemble de dix musiciens: Angèle Trudeau (soprano), Noëlla Huet (mezzo-soprano), Pierre Cartier (basse électrique et voix), Jean-Denis Levasseur (saxophone alto), Jean Derome (saxophone alto, flûte et flûte en sol), Ivanhoe Jolicæur (trompette), Sylvain Jacob (trombones alto et ténor), Tom Walsh (trombone), Pierre Tanguay (batterie), Julien Grégoire (percussions).

Finalement, le cinquième disque est le dernier à ce jour de l’Orkestre des Pas Perdus, sous la gouverne de Claude Saint-Jean, Maison douce maison avec des musiques de jazz… dansantes… qui toujours suscitent l’écoute. Avec les excellents et solides musiciens Rémi Leclerc (batterie), Jean-Denis Levasseur (sax alto, piccolo), Roberto Murray (sax ténor, flûtes), Jean Sabourin (sousaphone), Claude Saint-Jean (trombone) et Maxime Saint-Pierre (trompette, flugelhorn).


François Couture, AllMusic, December 20, 1997

Maison douce maison is a literal translation of “Home Sweet Home.” On this second album, L’Orkestre des Pas Perdus’ sound has crystallized into something more powerful, driving and accessible. A better sound, a tighter rhythm section, a enhanced in-your-face approach, and more focused writing from leader Claude St-Jean all make this CD superior to the band’s first effort. The recipe remains essentially the same: a cross between fanfare instrumentation and hot funk licks. The more avant-gardist elements found on T’auras pas ta pomme have been rerouted to St-Jean’s other outfit Les Projectionnistes. Rémi Leclerc’s drumming is inventive and precise, Jean Sabourin has better control over his sousaphone (not the easiest instrument to establish a groove). Each track will get you on your feet, but when the music’s over, you probably won’t remember a single melody from it. That’s because all tunes sound pretty much alike. Nevertheless, Maison douce maison is thoroughly enjoyable toe-tapping brass funk. Fun for the whole family.

Maison douce maison is thoroughly enjoyable toe-tapping brass funk. Fun for the whole family.

More texts

  • Gert-Ove Fridlund, March 1, 1999