Un moment de bonheur

Jean Derome Louis Sclavis Quartet

This “summit” meeting came with high expectations; the ensuing performance lived up to them. Coda Magazine, Canada

… sounding more like a fiery encore than an introductory dialogue, the high-velocity workout… Downbeat, USA

One of the clear highlights of the 18th fimav 2001.

When Louis Sclavis and Jean Derome joined artistic forces for a Victoriaville concert in 2001, it was a meeting on turf both familiar and alien. That sort of duality is at the heart of an artistic adventure all about the pursuit of, and also selective resistance to, balance. It was a transcontinental first encounter between musicians who knew of each other, who shared mutual respect, and are known to cross idiomatic borders. The virtuoso and range-free clarinetist Sclavis, whose memorable FIMAV visits have included his “Les Violences de Rameau” project and a wily duo with Ernst Reijseger, headed over from his home base in Lyon, France. Montréaler Derome, a frequent FIMAV flyer, has brought countless projects to town over the FIMAV’s history. Just add a complementary, suitably flexible rhythm (and anti-rhythm) section — the brilliant French bassist Bruno Chevillon and hyper-musical Quebec drummer Pierre Tanguay — and the stage was set for a magical cross-cultural alliance. The conference of disciplined free spirits resulted in one of the clear highlights of that year’s FIMAV, and a rambling musical landscape with proper disregard for genre or strict adherence to structure. Collective poetry and individual expressive flights came into being, and a raucous good time wase had. If there’s a message in this music, it has something to do with the intrinsic power of dialogue between musicians who can claim both common ground and musical differences of opinion, for spice’s sake. Nationality and cultural distinctions were moot in this provocative conversation, by turns deep, raging, reflective, and encouraging more of the same. —Josef Woodard, February, 2002

CD (VICTO 087)

  • Label: Victo
  • VICTO 087
  • 2003
  • UCC 777405008725
  • Jewel case
  • 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
  • 95 g

On the web

Some recommended items
In the press


Mike Chamberlain, Coda Magazine, January 1, 2004

This concert at the 2001 Victoriaville festival brought together two of Quebec’s finest, Jean Derome (reeds) and Pierre Tanguay (drums), with two of France’s, Louis Sclavis (reeds) and Brano Chevillon (bass). This “summit” meeting came with high expectations; the ensuing performance lived up to them. The energy in the room was right, and afterward, Sclavis and Derome were asked if they would release a recording of the concert. Sclavis answered laconically that it depended what the tape actually sounded like.

What the tape sounds like is four very fine musicians in synch with one another. Derome and Sclavis can be harsh and propulsive, or lyrical, or edgy, as the situations demands (five of the six compositions are by Derome, the other by Sclavis). Tanguay can lock into a groove or provide skittenng bursts of color, and Chevillon is a monster bassist who coaxes all manner of sound out of his instrument. Chevillon’s work on Le baiser and Sclavis’s Suite pour un bal is otherworldly. His distorted, bowed line on the latter adds a sense of impending doom that takes the music to a whole other dimension.

I’ll go so far as to say that the performance was better than I had remembered.

This “summit” meeting came with high expectations; the ensuing performance lived up to them.


James Hale, Downbeat, January 1, 2004

The International Festival Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville, Quebec, specializes in bringing together disparate artists, including some who have never collaborated before. Such was the case with the 2001 concert headlined by Montréal multireed player Jean Derome and France’s Louis Sclavis.

The quartet’s opening Tu dis tout de travers finds Derome and Sclavis’ dueling ferociously a la John Coltrane and Phaoah Sanders. Sounding more like a fiery encore than an introductory dialogue, the high-velocity workout is the free-jazz equivalent of two guitarists meeting over familiar 12-bar blues changes. The following three Derome compositions, which flow together as a suite, offer welcome change and find the musicians listening closely and responding. Beginning with a pair of jew’s harps over Bruno Chevillon’s dark arco playing, Le baiser becomes an exercise in textural composition and juxtaposition. L’Errance and Pas à Pas” continue the pattern of textual manipulation, with both rising to strong, bass-driven conclusions. Chevillon also sets the tone for much of SclavisSuite pour un bal, particularly in the middle section, which turns on feedback and a ponderous bass line that wouldn’t be out of place in a metal band’s power ballad.

… sounding more like a fiery encore than an introductory dialogue, the high-velocity workout…


Frank Rubolino, Cadence, September 9, 2003

French Canadians and Frenchmen matched firepower at the Victoriaville fest in 2001 under a flag of mutual leadership and respect on Un moment de bonheur. The encounter brought together two standout woodwind players and an equally strong support team. Multi-faceted flutist/saxophonist Derome and explosive drummer Tanguay represented the Canadian contingent, while stellar clarinetist/saxophonist Sclavis and inventive bassist Chevillon carried the colors for France. Unusual sounds abound on this set. Besides the multiplicity of horns played by Derome and Sclavis that continually change the color and texture of the music, special effects are added through Derome’s and Tanguay’s playing of the guimbarde (Jew’s-harp) and the various sound-producing objects handled by Sclavis.

Interestingly, Derome is the composer for five of the six tunes. His songs are multi-layered suites that pass through many tempo changes and structural variations. Derome’s compostions have European leanings; they are typically devoid of tangible ties to the blues. The music evolves as in a mathematical equation, producing sharp edges that jaggedly worm their way through a complex improvised maze with Braxton-ion efficiency. It turns into a power session of intense heat when the two leaders take their horns to far-reaching places and Chevillon and Tanguay spur the ride. On Sclavis’ lengthy Suite pour un bal, his bass clarinet establishes a carnival stage where the band merrily follows the piper into realms where there is no turning back to normality. Heavy motive bass/drum forces push the multiple-phased piece in ever-changing directions, and Derome and Sclavis excel at exploring the extensive improvising possibilities.

On all selections Derome and Sclavis become aggressively combative and take the music up several notches with their intense blowing. This study in contrasting styles boils down to a jostling match of heavy reed hitters pouring fuel on the creative fire. Multiple exposures to the disc will garner the many subtleties in this music as well.

… a power session of intense heat when the two leaders take their horns to far-reaching places and Chevilion and Tanguay spur the ride.


Nicolas Brémaud, Jazzman, no. 94, September 1, 2003

À l’opposé du concept d’improvisation simulée cher à André Hodeir, on parlerait volontiers dans ce concert enregistré au Canada, de composition simulée, car la spontanéité et la liberté y semblent toujours guidées par un sens très exigeant du développement collectif, de la nécessité musicale sans lesquelles le free conduit rapidement à une grisaille informe. Un intervalle mélodique, une idée d’articulation, une trouvaille sonore due à quelque acrobatie buccale, sont autant de matériaux élémentaires à partir desquelles les quatre musiciens construisent au fil de l’imagination des édifices aux formes magnifiquement organiques. Cette étonnante faculté d’organisation instantanée vient sans doute en partie d’une fréquentation assidue de la musique contemporaine dont le jeu du flûtiste, saxophoniste alto et compositeur canadien Jean Derome se fait parfois l’écho, déployant une infatigable invention instrumentale et une aisance exceptionnelle dans le maniement de lignes mélodiques complexes, atonales et distendues. Il va sans dire que le batteur Pierre Tanguay, compagnon de longue date, et les invités Louis Sclavis et Bruno Chevillon, ne sont nullement effrayés par ces dangereuses explorations, qu’ils se délectent même de ces chemins escarpés qui les maintiennent perpétuellement sur le qui-vive. Enfin, pour ceux qui suspecteraient quelque aridité, on ne saurait trop recommander d’écouter directement Le Baiser et Jonas, où flûtes et clarinettes étirent de poignantes et mystérieuses mélopées, merveilles qui justifieraient à elles seules notre enthousiasme.

… poignantes et mystérieuses mélopées…


Réjean Beaucage, Voir, May 1, 2003

L’un des meilleurs moments de l’édition 2001 du FIMAV, la rencontre entre Jean Derome (flutes, sax), Pierre Tanguay (batterie) et leurs acolytes francais Bruno Chevillon (contrebasse) et Louis Sclavis (clarinettes, sax) a été pour beaucoup de monde un pur moment de bonheur. Virtuosite, pertinence et imagination sont au rendez-vous tout au long de l’heure que dure le disque. On ne saurait mieux illustrer la notion de «dialogue» entre des instnumentistes qu’avec les échanges exemplaires enregistrés ici, aussi clairs qu’une conversation a bâtons rompus entre gens de qualité. Jazz mutant métissé d’explorations sorores inouïes, cette musique prend des risques à chaque tournant, mais ne dérape jamais. Chacun des musiciens est exceptionnel, mais il faut souligner le travail de Bruno Chevillon, d’une très grande inventivité.

Jazz mutant métissé d’explorations sonores inoues…

Un peu moins de mordant sur disque que sur scène

Alain Brunet, La Presse, April 19, 2003

L’économie de la musique actuelle étant ce qu’elle est, la rencontre du Québécois Jean Derome (flûtes, sax alto, guimbarde) et du Français Louis Sclavis (clarinettes, sax soprano, objets) ne pouvait être cogitée et répétée pendant des mois. Deux compositeurs majeurs et grands improvisateurs allaient donc mettre en commun des canevas épurés, plutôt simples, question de laisser libre cours à l’improvisation ici et maintenant. Je me souviens d’avoir assisté à un concert excellent, en mai 2002. La réécoute de ce concert sur disque, toutefois, ne me fait pas passer le même moment de bonheur, pour reprendre le titre de cet album qui résume la soirée. Tout à fait valable au demeurant, ce disque témoigne certes d’une rencontre qui prouve toutes ses qualités lorsqu’on est sur place, suspendu aux notes de ces virtuoses qui s’époumonent pour un auditoire aussi enthousiaste qu’averti. Or, sur disque, il arrive si souvent que ces rencontres free perdent de leur mordant, question de production et de… Faut-il croire que l’improvisation libre est aussi un art visuel? Un geste théâtral? J’ai parfois l’impression que si.

… suspendu aux notes de ces virtuoses qui s’époumonent pour un auditoire aussi enthousiaste qu’averti.


François Couture, AllMusic, April 1, 2003

The album title is trite, but the concert was marvelous (yes, this reviewer was there) and the recording preserves all of its intensity and charm. This was a first meeting between Jean Derome (flutes, alto sax) and Louis Sclavis (clarinets, soprano sax). Although different, their sound worlds are highly compatible. They have both dug their way out of the jazz realm and into new, largely unexplored music trenches while keeping ties to jazz. They both use other idioms to transform jazz and turn it into something completely new. They both favor an approach that combines clever writing, wild improvising and a touch of humor and emotion. To put the project on firm ground, they agreed on a solid rhythm section of bassist Bruno Chevillon (Sclavis’ most trusted sideman) and drummer Pierre Tanguy (a regular of Derome’s bands for two decades). The quartet hit it off incredibly well. Derome penned five of the six pieces presented here. His tunes show his usual taste for elegance in odd designs and tenderness im comical gestures. The basic motif in Tu dis tout de travers, would fit nicely in the repertoire of his group Dangereux Zhoms, while his gripping bass flute solo in Jonas ranks among his best moments on record. Sclavis displays unusual levels of playfulness in Le baiser and Pas à pas. He contributes the 21-minute Suite pour un bal a cross-stylistic composition of epic proportions — including a passage where Chevillon adds a distortion pedal to his double bass. Tanguay’s lumbering rhythms (his sense of out-rhythm is unique) match Chevillon’s power plays in a quasi-rock way. The enthusiasm of the crowd is well deserved.

The quartet hit it off incredibly well.


Alberto Bazzurro, Musica Jazz, April 1, 2003

Canadese del Quebec (quindi francofono), Derome e senza dubbio il principale artefice e promotcre del progetto cocumentato da questo ottimo album dal vivo, mentre Sclavis ne e il prestigioso ospite. Eppure nessuna casualita, cosi tipica di situazioni del genere, vi aleggia. La musica parte ruvida, verrebbe da dire turgida, per incamminarsi tuttavia Jungo tracciati piu lineari, fortemente suggestivi, fin dal secondo brano, che rifluisce nel seguente senza soluzione di continuita. Qui la particolarità sta nell’incrociarsi dei tre strumenti gravi - flauto, clarinetto e contrabbasso archettato - con un effetto di notevole forza evocativa.

Nelsuccessivo Pas à pas, aperto da un nervoso annodarsi tra clarone e sax alto, il clou coincide con un febbrile assolo di contrabbasso, in cui Chevillon sforna gran parte della sua non indifferente scienza strumentale. A seguire, arriva l’unico episodio a firma di Sclavis (tutto il resto si deve alla penna di Derome), una dinamicissima suite di oitre venti minuti dove - incastonati in una sorta di puzzle dalle mille diramazioni, con voltapagina continui e spesso sorprendenti - s’incontrano un contrabbasso che si fa chitarra distorta e un soprano che si fa cornamusa, un flauto basso che si liofiliza in puro soffio e ancora intrecci vorticosi fra contraito e clarone.

Chiude il disco un episodio in cui tutto sembra acchetarsi sullamorbidaspinta, nuovamente, dei due fiati piu gravi. Di fatto si tratta pero di un’impressione fallace, visto che sia Derome sia Sclavis, in assclo, hanno impennate di grande vivacita.


Bill Shoemaker, The Wire, no. 219, May 1, 2002

The rap on French saxophonist/clarinettist Louis Sclavis is that his polished technique hampers his expressive range. However, based on this collaboration with Québécois saxophonist/flutist Jean Derome, that opinion proves to be sheer folly. Sclavis is much more sombre than Derome, who can be particularly zany when paired with drummer Pierre Tanguay. It is fitting that Tanguay and Sclavis’s bassist, Bruno Chevillon, extends the contrast between the coleaders in rounding out the quartet for this 2001 FIMAV performance. Throughout the sets expanses of improvised space, Sclavis is as visceral as Derome. The emphasis on extended improvisation gives the quartet few opportunities to demonstrate their finesse with shorter jazz-flavoured vehicles. Whether it is the bustling Tu dis tout de travers, which suggests a gritty Ornette-Dolphy front line, or the floating Jonas, featuring ethereal bass flute and bass clarinet, a more tightly scripted format draws upon their concision as much as their creativity.

… improvisation gives the quartet few opportunities to demonstrate their finesse with shorter jazz-flavoured vehicles.