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Jean Derome More from the press

In the press

Jazz — Le mois Derome

Serge Truffaut, Le Devoir, January 29, 2011

Jean Derome, ça vous dit? On l’espère et cent fois plutôt qu’une. Parce que Jean Derome, sans surnom particulier, est l’un des dix musiciens appartenant à la catégorie des artistes les plus passionnants, et donc incontournables, en Amérique du Nord. On exagère? On fait dans l’enflure? À peine comme un peu. Mettons des vingt. Là, ça va? Bon.

Toujours est-il que la maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges a donné carte blanche à Derome Jean, sans accent circonflexe sur le e, pour le mois de février. La nouvelle, qui n’est pas une ficelle, est si grosse qu’on attend que les autres maisons en fassent autant. À tour de rôle évidemment. Parce que cet amateur de Georges Perec et de sa Vie mode d’emploi n’a pas son pareil pour glisser le do là où il faut. Bref, Derome est la version oulipienne du jazz et de ses filiales à lui tout seul. Bien.

La série de cinq concerts va commencer le 1er. Ce soir-là, à compter de 20h, le saxophoniste et flûtiste va animer un groupe qu’il anime depuis une vingtaine d’années et qui s’appelle Evidence, comme dans Evidence, pièce écrite par Thelonious Sphere Monk.

Autrement dit, ce trio qui comprend aussi Pierre Cartier à la basse et Pierre Tanguay à la batterie s’attache à interpréter du Monk sans… piano! Écrire Monk, c’est dévoiler le programme. C’est dire qu’ils vont jouer Crepuscule with Nellie, Straight No Chaser, Ask Me Now, Monk’s Mood, Pannonica, Ruby My Dear, Light Blue et certainement Round About Midnight, qui sous la plume de Claude Nougaro a été augmenté de mots.

Le 4 février, la scène sera occupée par le TGG, comme dans Très Grand Groupe, parce qu’il est le TGD, comme dans Tanguay, Guilbeault (Normand de son prénom, à la contrebasse) et bien sûr Derome. À eux trois, un pianiste dynamique, puissant, intense, un pianiste qui nous rappelle le regretté Don Pullen, va se joindre. Son identité? Normand Deveault.

Le TGD + Deveault va décliner les compositions écrites par les grands pianistes de jazz. CQFD: ils devraient s’attarder à l’appropriation de pièces portant les empreintes de Billy Strayhorn, Bud Powell, John Lewis, Misha Mengelberg, Jelly Roll Morton, du moins on l’espère, Horace Silver, peut-être Bobby Timmons, Duke Jordan, Sun Ra — pourquoi pas? — et deux ou cinq autres.

Ensuite, le 9 février, un groupe qu’on ne connaît pas du tout: Derome entouré de Caloia à la contrebasse, de Ceccarelli à la batterie et de Dostaler aux claviers, qui vont interpréter les originaux signés par Caloia. Le 11 février, Derome sera à la tête de sa formation la plus oulipienne, celle qui, comme dans un poème de Raymond Queneau, «Maigris du bout des doigts / Parce que c’est ce qu’il y a de plus distingué».

Toujours est-il (bis) que Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms vont jouer les pièces conçues, arrangées par Derome. Les bonshommes qui effraient sont Cartier, Dostaler, Tanguay et bien sûr Derome dans la fonction d’éclaireur et de chef de bande. Puis, le 15 février, le TGG alias le TGD sera de retour. Cette fois-ci, Deveault va laisser sa place à François Bourassa, à qui se joindra la chanteuse Karen Young. Et que vont-ils faire? Revoir le grand livre écrit par Billy Strayhorn, auteur notamment du splendide Ispahan, de Passion Flower, de Chelsea Bridge et d’autres pièces à conviction qui sont devenues des pièces d’anthologie une fois jouées par Duke Ellington. Vive Ellington! Vive Derome!

Parce que Jean Derome, sans surnom particulier, est l’un des dix musiciens appartenant à la catégorie des artistes les plus passionnants, et donc incontournables, en Amérique du Nord.

Montréal jazz fest 2009: Jean Derome on Lee Konitz

Juan Rodriguez, The Gazette, July 6, 2009

Montréal’s long-reigning avant-garde-and-mainstream horn explorer Jean Derome, after seeing iconic alto sax explorer Lee Konitz, 80, at the Gesù late Friday night at the Montréal International Jazz Festival: “I’ve listened to him for a long time. At the beginning I didn’t understand anything about what he was doing. But then I began to realize that he always plays the same tunes, but in different ways, even at a solo concert at Théâtre Saint-Denis, lots of silences and abstractions. I always come back to certain discs, among others his record with Sal Mosca, Spirits, and Motion with Elvin Jones. I remember when I was young Robert Daudelin filmed a dinner with Lee Konitz and I was very shy in his presence. Now it’s always nice to see artists that are in fine form despite diminished physical resources. His also has a great rapport with his group Minsarah; one of his great strengths has always been his deep ears. I feel fortunate to see him now and seem him en forme with creative juices. He’s always surprising. Now I can’t wait to see Ornette [Coleman, 79, on Thursday].”

Jean Derome brings Montreal improv to Vancouver.

Alexander Varty, The Georgia Straight, November 6, 2008

Language and geography pose formidable challenges to those who’d like to see more interplay between Quebec and British Columbia, but many artists are working to bridge that gap—most notably in improvised music, where there’s been a strong connection between Vancouver and Montréal for more than 20.

The two cities share some common attributes, notably a degree of isolation from the mainstream and a willingness to experiment. But affordable housing and superior funding have allowed Montréal’s players to develop an idiom all their own: musique actuelle, which blends elements of American-style free jazz, progressive rock, contemporary chamber music, and Gallic joie de vivre in a sound that’s as sophisticated as haute cuisine and as earthy as joual.

Vital though this music is, until recently some of its practitioners were feeling like it might be an endangered species.

“I was really worried to see the players and the audience always getting older and older, with no renewal,” says saxophone and flute specialist Jean Derome, reached at his Montréal home. “It was like we were just kind of an error in history—something that happened that won’t happen again. But now we’re seeing a lot of younger musicians starting to do free improv, or mixing acoustic instruments with electronics and so on. There’s a new generation of musicians that is thinking creatively and not just standing on the shoulders of a few originals.”

As one of the key architects of musique actuelle, Derome is understandably pleased by this influx of new talent—a phenomenon, he adds, that’s happening in Vancouver, too. This weekend, he’ll guest with Vancouver’s NOW Orchestra at its annual Hear It NOW festival, and while he’s long been familiar with bandleader Coat Cooke’s work, many of the faces in the recently revamped septet will be new to him.

“I was really surprised to see that the lineup has changed, that it’s not anymore the big 19-piece band,” he says. “But I had the feeling that Coat was finding it difficult… there was so much history between all the players, and sometimes that can almost be a trap. You feel that things can’t change.”

The new NOW band, which features a mix of jazz-based and rock-influenced players, is well suited to the material Derome’s bringing with him, which includes a few numbers culled from the repertoire of Les Dangereux Zhoms, the extroverted quintet that was for many years a fixture on the Montréal scene. The reed virtuoso will also have his own powers taxed: NOW has commissioned Vancouver New Music artistic director Giorgio Magnanensi to write a new piece for the band, and Derome reports that it includes a saxophone line that’s so complex even he’s having difficulty figuring it out.

Telephone conversations with the composer are helping, however. “The music is difficult, but the guy is not,” says Derome of Magnanensi — an assessment that could be applied equally well to this engaging saxophonist and his work.

Live Reviews: Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville

Mike Chamberlain, Signal to Noise, no. 51, September 1, 2008

While the 2008 edition marked the 25th anniversary of the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville, and while the festival grid looked, in some respects, like a tribute to certain mainstays of the festival that’s not quite the way that Victo’s director, Michel Levasseur, set out to put the milestone program together. The 25th anniversary nonetheless has a resonance for many people, Levasseur found. “You can’t hide the reality of this history,” he said in an interview before the festival. “Some people have 25 years of marriage. Some people think of where they were 25 years ago. Some of our audience weren’t even born then. […]”

And there was, in fact, a certain symmetry to the lineup, with Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms + 7 and John Zorn’s project The Dreamers opening the festival at 8 and 10 pm respectively. Both Derome and an expanded lineup of Les Dangereux Zhoms and Zorn’s Dreamers delivered performances that demonstrated that their leaders were still making interesting, relevant music. Les Dangereux Zhoms did two pieces. The first, Traquen’Art, was first performed late last year in homage to the Montréal production company of the same name, while the second, Plateforme, was a premiere, written in tribute Levasseur’s creation and life work. With the lineup expanded to include the voice of Joane Hétu, the reeds of Lori Freedman, and the turntable of Martin Tétreault, among others, the two compositions encompassed a wide palette that drew together almost everything Derome has done over the past thirty years. Ranging from delicate interplay between voice, violin and viola to full-on collective improvisation with screeching guitar and muted trombone pyrotechnics, the music exploded generic considerations in the best Victo tradition. […]

A lot of festival-goers skip the midnight shows, but this year’s edition featured two of the best I have seen in a decade of attending the festival, the Friendly Rich Show on Thursday and Michel F Côté’s post-rock soul sextet (juste) Claudette on Sunday. […] While the collective intrigue of the three Thursday concerts were hard to match, there was much to savor over the weekend. Among these […] the premiere performance by the trio of René Lussier, Martin Tétreault and Otomo Yoshihide, whose nakedly human endeavors to improvise as a trio had to overcome their long histories of playing with one another in duos, the results demonstrating both the promise and the pitfalls of improvised music.

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