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ImproJazz, 11 janvier 2000

“One second is a long time in the life of a poem” writes Patrice Desbiens as an introduction to his record. In this case, the 57 minutes 41 seconds of this CD will surely extend the life of this poet’s works. Patrice Desbiens, with his dozen books published, is still very little known and read. The public knows mostly because one of his poems, Caisse pop, was recorded by Richard Desjardins, a critically acclaimed Québecer songwriter, on his latest record Boom Boom.

René Lussier wanted to record the poet telling his poems in an improvisational context. The guitarist recruited three Ambiances magnétiques collegues: Jean Derome (flutes, alto sax, bird calls), Guillaume Dostaler (synths) and Pierre Tanguay (drums). Patrice Desbiens christened this back-up band Les moyens du bord (Available means). In march 1996, they recorded a string of poems which are offered only now on this cd.

Patrice Desbiens et Les moyens du bord comprises 21 improvisations on as many poems taken here in there into Desbiens’ books. The urban lyricism of Desbiens, that makes me think of a more Montréalistic Desjardins or a slanging Jacques Prévert, is greatly accomodated by these improvised soundtracks. At times only an ambience, at other times a driving groove, the music anchors the poem into the ground by interacting with it, keeping the listener ready to catch every syllable and turning this experience into something very enjoyable (of course, if you don’t understand french, you’ll have a hard time figuring out what’s happening).

The cd is packaged in a spiraled note pad with all thepoems reproduced. This original presentation lacks practicality: the cardboard holding the cd on my copy tear on first attempt of getting the cd out.

Patrice Desbiens et Les moyens du bord has all the qualities of bridge-record, one of these albums that let a new public to enter the world of “musiques actuelles". This cd remains of an easy approach, even for the neophyte. The text gets center stage, the music only accompanies. Therefore, every fan of poetry (understanding French, that is) should jump on this release in order to discover Desbiens’ talent and the universe of improvised music. I must thank René Lussier for a giving a new life and increased exposure to Desbiens’ poetry. I only wish many will discover him as I did, by listening to this record.

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