Jean Derome. Flutist, saxophonist, composer, arranger, singer, b Montreal 29 Jun 1955. His studies 1972-5 at the St-Laurent Cegep with Michel Perrault (theory) and 1975-9 at the CMM with Jean-Paul Major (flute) and others coincided with the activities of his first important group, Nébu. Formed in 1973 with the pianist Pierre St-Jacques and completed by the bassist Claude Simard, it played classically-informed contemporary jazz and toured extensively in Quebec, performed at the Festival de musique ouverte de Châteauvallon in France in 1977, and appeared at the inaugural FIJM in 1980 before disbanding in 1981. Its second LP drew notice for Derome's 1000 hand-drawn jackets, in retrospect an early sign of the industriousness, the resolve to be original, and the disdain for commercial convention that have characterized his career.
In 1978 Derome founded EMIM with St-Jacques and others and subsequently served as composer, arranger, and flutist for a succession of EMIM-related groups, including the Chick-Boom Chick Band in 1980, the G.U.M. (in turn a street ensemble, Guérilla urbaine musicale, in 1981, and a big band, Grande Urchestre de Montréal, 1982-3), and Jonas 1982-3. In 1983 he took up the alto saxophone, playing it almost immediately with La Grande aventure (a street band popular for several years at the FIJM) and later with Éboulements and with two groups devoted to the music of Thelonious Monk, Mystérioso 1983-4, and Evidence, established in 1985. Five Derome compositions from this period were published in Les Cahiers de jazz (Éditions du lyncathrope 1983).
Derome has been a duet partner in concert to the bassist Pierre Cartier, the clarinetist Robert M. Lepage, and most notably with his longtime collaborator, guitarist René Lussier. Formed in 1984 and later taking the name the Granules, they have combined traditional reels and songs (eg, La Bolduc's 'Le Marchand des rues'), free improvisation, musical parody, and social commentary (eg, 'Avez-vous travaillé?,' whose text comprises the questions asked of unemployment insurance applicants) to humourous and pointed effect. In 1988 Derome and Lussier performed at the Sound Symposium and the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville, and 1990 appeared at jazz festivals in Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. They gave concerts in New York and Los Angeles in 1991. Their European itinerary has included London and Moers, Germany, in 1989 and Berne, Bâle, and Zurich, Switzerland, in 1990. The Granules were expanded to a big band for concerts at New Music America, 1990, in Montreal, and in 1991 at Gand, Belgium. Derome also has travelled in Europe, the USA and the former USSR with Fred Frith's multi-national group Keep the Dog, established in 1988.
Derome had written music (often in collaboration with Lussier) for some 30 films by 1991 - eg, for Painted Landscapes of the Times: The Art of Sue Coe (1986) and Paul Strand Under the Dark Cloth (1988) and for several NFB productions including L'Albédo, Riopelle, Les Illusions tranquilles, Le Dernier glacier, and Passiflora. Derome also assisted Lussier and Robert Lepage in mixed-media performances with the animator Pierre Hébert (see Lussier for details). In the theatre Derome adapted Racine's Phèdre for improvisers (Phèdre, sans paroles, presented by EMIM in 1980), and took acting and playing roles in André Duchesne's Clockville (1981) and in a variety of other productions.
Derome was a principal 1980-3 of, and a choreographer for, Quidam (Quatuor en improvisation musique danse) in Montreal; his Spectacles (1982) brought together dancers and improvisers, with both parties subject to the same stimuli and controls and yet directly responsive to each other. Derome maintained Spectacles only for improvisers after 1990. He was a founder and the musical director 1983-6 of the Événements de la pleine lune, which intermittently offered music and dance concerts in Montreal on the occasion of a full moon. His Confitures de gagaku (1985, for woodwinds, soprano, double bass, keyboards, and percussion), comprising 10 pieces based on traditional Japanese gagaku ceremonial music, was premiered under one such moon in 1986, repeated without dancers at the Victoriaville festival in 1987, and subsequently recorded. It includes versions of his Oiseaux and Saturne, previously recorded with Lussier. Other Derome compositions of note include Hommage à Mingus (for the G.U.M.) Jonas (Jonas), Les Aventures de Sascha l'Chat (Granules), and Seven Dances for 15 (Hemispheres).
Jean Derome, 'Matter manner/Matière manière,' Musicworks, 49, Winter 1991