One of the most active and eclectic musicians on the Canadian creative music scene, Jean Derome has managed to earn the recognition of a larger public, a rare feat in that field. Thanks to his large-scale musique actuelle projects, his compositions, his work as an improviser, his jazz groups and his music for the screen and the stage, Derome ranks as a major creative force, in Quebec and abroad. He is experienced and innovative on both saxophone and flute, and his unique writing style cannot be mistaken for anyone else's.
Sensitive and powerful, his music often features a funny strike that makes its complex nature more inviting.
Ever since Nébu (one of Quebec's first avant-garde jazz groups : A trio with Derome on flute, pianist Pierre St-Jacques and bassist Claude Simard, N?bu played "classically-informed contemporary jazz".) in the early ?70s, Derome has been consistently renewing and diversifying his approach of composition. He impressed audience and critics first with the flute, then with the saxophone, as a lead character in the musique actuelle underground. He took part to the various artists' collectives looking for new ways to express themselves freely, without esthetic or social constraints, including the Ensemble de musique improvis?e de Montr?al. Later, in the early ?80s, he co-founded with the guitarist René Lussier Ambiances Magn?tiques, a collective and record label that raised his profile at home and introduced his name to the outside world. Among his numerous projects, let us mention the duos Les Granules, Nous perçons les oreilles and Plinc! Plonc!, the dynamic group Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms, and the large-scale projects Confitures de gagaku, Je me souviens - Hommage ? Georges Perec and Canot-camping. Most of these projects are based on a unique form of synergy between composition, structured improvisation and genuine creative madness, all this articulated with unmatched playfulness. In 1992, Derome became the second artist to be presented with the Freddie Stone Award (bassist Lisle Ellis was the first).
Besides improvising on a regular basis with Ambiances Magn?tiques' members and appearing in their projects, Derome has also shared the stage with several musicians of international stature, among others Fred Frith, Lars Hollmer, Louis Sclavis and Han Bennink. He performs regularly all over Canada, in the US and in Europe. He received a Prix Opus in 2001 for his exposure abroad.
Lately, jazz circles have been praising his undisputable qualities as a jazzman, thanks to the Thelonious Monk tribute project Évidence, the Normand Guilbeault Ensemble (whose Mingus Erectus CD is devoted to Charles Mingus' music), and the much-lauded Trio Derome Guilbeault Tanguay.
Although Jean Derome writes tirelessly for his own projects, he is much in demand in the fields of film, theatre and dance. A short list of this side of his work would have to include his numerous scores for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), especially for films by John Walker, Jacques Leduc, Fernand B?langer and animated films by Pierre H?bert, Mich?le Cournoyer and Jean Detheux; his incidental music for Théâtre UBU, Th??tre de Quat'Sous and Th??tre du Nouveau Monde; not forgetting his work with several top choreographers, including Louise B?dard, Andrew de Lotbini?re Harwood, Daniel Souli?res and Ginette Laurin. Other music ensembles have commissioned works from him, including Tuyo, Bradyworks, the Hard Rubber Orchestra from Vancouver and Fanfare Pourpour. Incidentally, Derome is the musical director of the latter.
Over thirty years of music and 70 record credits later, Jean Derome still has sleeves bursting with tricks.