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Souffles Jean Derome

  • Canada Council for the Arts • SODEC

Its motifs and refrains show a style of playing that has seen Derome receive plaudits from critics, his peers and live audiences alike. Vital, Netherlands

“I sculpt air in a time that we share.
It corresponds with no story, no theatrical script, no silent film — simply, sounds in and of themselves.
The music contains all of the stories and tells none of them.”

Jean Derome

Jean Derome plays: alto saxophone, piccolo, flute, bass flute, as well as about fifty other instruments including: Game calls: duck, seagull, super-seagull, monkey, deer, boar, bear, sad turtledove, predator, wounded rabbit, wild turkey, starling, goose, thrush, partridge, Audubon whistle, trifecta, as well as… voice, asthmatic harp, kalimbas, spring-box, lobster, crackling plastic, flower plastic wrapping, siren, whistle, telephone bells, rocks, bow, Styrofoam, string-drum, “Smiley,” jaw harps, wooden boxes, tuning forks, bells, goat hooves, doll navels, Brazilian whistles, ocarinas, toy trumpet, “Donald Duck,” native rattle, 3D postcard, toy microphone.

Stereo

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

Stereo

  • 48 kHz, 24 bits

• MP3 • OGG • FLAC

Souffles

Solo

Jean Derome

Notices

About Souffles

Though I’ve been dedicated to the flute for 50 years and the saxophone for 35, I have never sought to confine myself to a specialty. Along the way, I have used many game calls and found objects in my practice.

The outcome in sound has always been paramount to me. I am not a crusader for the flute or saxophone, demonstrating how the world of sound can be played on one instrument alone. Though I work daily to expand what I can play on my instruments, it’s clear that there are sounds on a duck call that cannot be produced on a saxophone. Thus, I am an orchestrator who knows which instrument will best produce the sound he seeks. Even if I employ toys or game calls; even if they seem simply and colourfully designed in materials of variable quality, from plastic to fine metal, from rare wood to cardboard; even if some instruments suggest rarefied, high-class contexts while others belong in the recycling bin, none of this is important to me. My eyes are closed and my attention is focused on the sounds they produce.

Circus artists have approached me to integrate my sounds into their clown shows. A sound designer wanted me to contribute to his catalogue by which he represents prehistoric animals. In each of these instances, I have replied that it’s not about that at all. Everyone is in search of tricks and novel devices, but magic is not to be found in tricks and novel devices. My work is absolutely not comic and it’s for this reason that, occasionally, it can be truly comical.

The sounds I produce can make people uncomfortable or make them laugh. They hear cartoons, farts and other ‘impolite’ sounds, animal calls, children crying, conversation… each listener will hear what he or she wishes.

The sounds I hear are stable, unstable, gentle, harsh, precise, imprecise, coarse, smooth, rough, dense, diaphanous, colourful, brilliant, dull, bitter, acidic, intense, percussive, evanescent, bent, twisted, stretched, suspended, short, biting, whispered, resonant, slippery, viscous, calm, agitated…

My art consists of making air vibrate in a meaningful way. Since I generally play wind instruments, it’s with my stomach that I vibrate the air in which listeners bathe. In fact, my whole body is involved: From the diaphragm toward the lungs, larynx, nasal cavities, mouth, tongue, teeth, and lips. From there, it flows to the mouthpiece — either a reed or a whistle, my interface with the instrument, the balance point between my guts and the outside world —and onward to a resonator that propels the sound in the ambient air. Listeners’ ears and whole bodies are set to vibrating.

“I sculpt air in a time that we share.
It corresponds with no story, no theatrical script, no silent film —simply, sounds in and of themselves.
The music contains all of the stories and tells none of them.
I make pure music.
I make impure music.
Pure joie de vivre. Pure magic.
That’s what it’s about and it’s not about that at all.”

Jean Derome [English translation: Scott Thomson, x-20]

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In the press

  • NR, Vital, February 10, 2021
    Its motifs and refrains show a style of playing that has seen Derome receive plaudits from critics, his peers and live audiences alike.

Review

NR, Vital, February 10, 2021

Given Derome’s legacy and standing in the field on the Canadian creative music scene Souffles feels like a culmination of a lifetime crafting forward-thinking music and, at the same time, a misfire. At times music can be dynamic. Its motifs and refrains show a style of playing that has seen Derome receive plaudits from critics, his peers and live audiences alike. Yet, there are portions of the album when it doesn’t really work. Cloudy sees Derome playing a wind instrument. Is it a penny whistle? A Piccolo? A child’s recorder? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Its sound is in the middle of a Venn diagram featuring virtuoso reedist playing an unfamiliar instrument, toddler music group, nails down a blackboard and asthma attack. The phrases are played almost ad nauseum for its nearly five-minute duration. With each one, the tension gets more and more unbearable. When Cloudy does end you let out a pleasing sigh of relief. Which is a shame when compared to Eskers-Zoo. Here Derome delivers riff after glorious riff. The music soars. It dances all around you. It makes you feel alive and excited for the next barrage. He attacks his instrument. Playing it for all its worth, then gently caresses it and plays tenderly. It’s nothing short of wonderful. And makes the tracks like Cloudy even more infuriating. Derome is clearly a gifted player. He has an exceptional ear for melody and contrasting tones, which makes the damp squib of Cloudy, Castelet and Cantus Firmus so dejecting.

If you are an existing fan of Derome’s work give his a-go, as you might find something I didn’t. If you don’t know Derome’s work, maybe try something else as this might be too overpowering on a first try. What is clear is that after all these years Derome isn’t running out of ideas, but much like the edible namesakes the album is named after, they need to cook to perfection. Many some of these tracks needed to come out of the cover a little soon and others needed a little more time before they were ready for public consumption.

Its motifs and refrains show a style of playing that has seen Derome receive plaudits from critics, his peers and live audiences alike.