Blogue

15 mai 2008
Par Mathieu Bélanger in Panpot (Québec), 15 mai 2008

Texte

«One of the nicest moments of Plates-formes occurred when he directed the ensemble to alternate between duos of Walsh’s trombone or Hétu’s vocals with Tanguay’s drumming and blasts of white noise by the other nine musicians.»

Very few musicians and musical events share a history as intimately related as that of Jean Derome and the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. In this regard, the Montréal-based saxophonist, flutist, composer and core member of the Ambiances Magnétiques collective seemed like a natural choice to open the 25th edition of the FIMAV.

For the occasion, Derome presented a project called Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhomes + 7, that is the long-running then-sextet-now-quintet of Derome, trombonist Tom Walsh, pianist Guillaume Dostaler, electric bassist Pierre Cartier and drummer Pierre Tanguay augmented with seven musicians. More specifically, the original Zhoms were joined on stage by Joane Hétu on vocals, Lori Freedman on clarinets, Gordon Allen on trumpet, Bernard Falaise on electric guitar, Martin Tétreault on turntables and electronics, Jean René on viola as Nadia Francavilla, the latter probably unknown to most “musique actuelle”/jazz/improvised music listeners, but better-know for her work with the Quatuor Bozzini.

It was meant, not without a pun, to describe this project as Derome’s special commemoration project. Indeed, it was first put together in December 2007 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Traquen’art, a Montréal-based improvised music and world music production organization. The second ever concert happened as part of the FIMAV whose 2008 edition was, as mentioned above, its 25th. As a matter of fact, Derome himself seems to have marked the pun with the titles of the compositions performed. The first was premiered at their debut concert and is called Traquenards. The title of the second is Plates-formes, for the organization behind the festival is called Productions Plateformes.

At around 30 to 35 minutes each, both Traquenards and Plates-formes were actually suites more than pieces, meaning they consisted of multiple sections lasting from 5 to 10 minutes. They reflected the eclecticism of Jean Derome’s musical universe for they suggested through references of jazz, rock, contemporary music, electronic music or even noise, but also integrated some of these styles’ formal characteristics. It is also worth mentioning that the ideas of trap (English for the French word “traquenard”) and platform (the English translation of the French word “plate-forme” as one will have already guessed) acted as inspiration for the writing of the two suites, although this was not always obvious judging from the music, but it probably was not always meant to be, either.

Derome’s use of the 12-musician ensemble as a whole was diversified. One of the nicest moments of Plates-formes occurred when he directed the ensemble to alternate between duos of Walsh’s trombone or Hétu’s vocals with Tanguay’s drumming and blasts of white noise by the other nine musicians. At other times, the 12 musicians played Derome’s themes at unison.

However, there still remained room for each musician to demonstrate his/her craft. In this respect, one section of Traquenards consisted of Dostaler starting something on the piano until Falaise, Hétu or Tétreault made a noise, at which point he had to start something else. Needless to say they had a little fun with the concept, either forcing Dostaler to change very quickly or leaving him to develop some material for longer than he would normally have.

Oh, and before anyone asks, the balance and volume level was great in the Cinéma Laurier so the music could be appreciated in all of its details.

In conclusion, if anyone has a 25th anniversary coming up, he definitely should consider asking Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms + 7 to play. You’re likely to hear some pleasant music, just like the spectators did on that evening of May 15th.

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