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.