Artists Jean Derome

A leading light of Québec’s new music scene, composer and multi-instrumentalist Jean Derome has been regularly performing throughout Canada, the United States of America and Europe and has appeared on more than a hundred records since 1978.

Jean Derome has won several distinctions in recognition of his creative spirit, both in Québec and abroad, including the Freddie Stone Award (1992) for his work in the field of creative music in Canada, the prestigious Bourse de carrière (Career Grant) from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec in 2012, as well as three Prix Opus awarded by the Conseil québécois de la musique: International Achievement in 2001; Musique Actuelle Record of the Year (Chamber Music category) in 2016; Event of the Year (for the Année Jean Derome 15-16) in 2017.

The reed and wind instruments player — who co-founded the label Ambiances Magnétiques — celebrated his 45-year long career in 2015 with the Année Jean Derome (AJD), a series of 18 concerts performed throughout Québec from May 2015 to June 2016 that focused on his various activities as musician, improviser, composer and archivist. Richard Jutras feature-length documentary Derome ou les turbulences musicales was launched in 2015 as part of the event.


Jean Derome

Montréal (Québec), 1955

Residence: Montréal (Québec)

  • Composer
  • Performer (saxophones (alto, baritone, soprano), flutes (flute, bass flute, piccolo, alto flute, recorders), keyboards, small wind instruments (ocarinas, jew’s harp, game calls, toys…), percussion, invented instruments, voice)
  • Improviser

Associated groups

On the web

Jean Derome [Photo: Jean-Claude Désinor, Montréal (Québec), August 2009]
Jean Derome [Photo: Jean-Claude Désinor, Montréal (Québec), August 2009]
  • Jean Derome [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), October 17, 2019]
  • Jean Derome [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), October 17, 2019]
  • Jean Derome [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), October 17, 2019]
  • Jean Derome [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), October 17, 2019]
  • Jean Derome, Jean Derome [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), October 17, 2019]
  • Under the direction of Jean Derome, the Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM), ,  and  play extracts of canoe-camping, short expedition [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), June 12, 2019]
  • Under the direction of Jean Derome, the Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM), ,  and  play extracts of canoe-camping, short expedition [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), June 12, 2019]
  • Jean Derome and his two Opus prizes [Photo: Charles Bélisle, Montréal (Québec), February 3, 2019]


empreintes DIGITALes / IMED 9736, IMED 9736_NUM / 1997

In the press

Live Reviews: Suoni per il Popolo

Lawrence Joseph, Signal to Noise, no. 51, September 1, 2008

The eighth annual Suoni per il Popolo spanned a month and covered a huge range of musical genres. Over 50 concerts took place in two venues located across the street from each other in Montréal’s artist-filled Mile End neighborhood. It gave fans of free jazz, experimental rock, avant folk, contemporary classical, electronic, and improvised musics plenty to get excited about. Add a workshop with the Sun Ra Arkestra, street performance art, DJ sets and an outdoor day of music and children’s activities, and you have an unbeatably eclectic event. […]

The festival kicked off with two shows that exemplified what it does best. The more intimate Casa del Popolo was the venue for a free jazz blowout with saxophonist Glen Hall, bassist Dominic Duval, and drummer William Hooker, […] Hall keeps a relatively low profile, despite having studied with Ligeti and Kagel and played with the likes of Roswell Rudd, Jimmy Giuffre and John Scofield. The compositions in the first set paid tribute to some of his influences, while the second set shifted to freely improvised territory, with Montréal’s young trumpet luminary Gordon Allen sitting in to add blistering sound blasts and overblowing to the mix. At times this resembled the more noise-based music Hooker has made with Thurston Moore. […]

Allen was a fixture at the festival, playing in seven shows during the month, including guitarist Rainer Wiens’ version of Riley’s In C.

Another evening featured the debut of All Up In There, a trio of Allen, Michel F Côté on percussion, and Frank Martel on Theremin. Martel often played the theremin as if it were a stand-up bass, while Côté, when not playing kit, obtained a surprising variety of sounds from winging two mics around Pignose amps. The overall effect was more like a group of virtuosic Martians than a standard jazz trio. […]

Christof Migone’s performance piece Hit Parade took place outside on a busy Saint-Laurent Boulevard, taking over the sidewalk and one lane of traffic. Eleven people lay face down on the pavement, each pounding a microphone into the ground exactly one thousand times, at varying speeds. The sound of a giant asynchronous metronome prompted ironic thoughts in this listener about the usual meaning of the phrase “hit music,” and about pounding the pavement as a metaphor for life. […]

The Quatuor Bozzini, a string quartet dedicated to contemporary music, performed a selection of pieces by experienced improviser/composers. Malcolm Goldstein’s four-part structured improvisation A New Song of Many Faces for in These Times (2002) was by turns gentle and harsh, agitated and introspective, as melodic and rhythmic fragments were passed from one member of the quartet to another. Goldstein himself performed Hardscrabble Songs, a 13-minute solo piece for voice and violin. Jean Derome and Joane Hétu’s Le mensonge et l’identité (“Lies and Identity”) is an hour-long tour de force with a strong socio-political component. The Bozzinis’ spoken contributions (both live and on prerecorded tape) ranged from pithy quotes from philosophers and politicians to personal anecdotes. The music deliberately unraveled into chaos, the players moving music stands and chairs about the room in response to unsynchronized metronomes, tipping over stands as the scores on them were completed. […]

Live Reviews: Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville

Mike Chamberlain, Signal to Noise, no. 51, September 1, 2008

While the 2008 edition marked the 25th anniversary of the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville, and while the festival grid looked, in some respects, like a tribute to certain mainstays of the festival that’s not quite the way that Victo’s director, Michel Levasseur, set out to put the milestone program together. The 25th anniversary nonetheless has a resonance for many people, Levasseur found. “You can’t hide the reality of this history,” he said in an interview before the festival. “Some people have 25 years of marriage. Some people think of where they were 25 years ago. Some of our audience weren’t even born then. […]”

And there was, in fact, a certain symmetry to the lineup, with Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms + 7 and John Zorn’s project The Dreamers opening the festival at 8 and 10 pm respectively. Both Derome and an expanded lineup of Les Dangereux Zhoms and Zorn’s Dreamers delivered performances that demonstrated that their leaders were still making interesting, relevant music. Les Dangereux Zhoms did two pieces. The first, Traquen’Art, was first performed late last year in homage to the Montréal production company of the same name, while the second, Plateforme, was a premiere, written in tribute Levasseur’s creation and life work. With the lineup expanded to include the voice of Joane Hétu, the reeds of Lori Freedman, and the turntable of Martin Tétreault, among others, the two compositions encompassed a wide palette that drew together almost everything Derome has done over the past thirty years. Ranging from delicate interplay between voice, violin and viola to full-on collective improvisation with screeching guitar and muted trombone pyrotechnics, the music exploded generic considerations in the best Victo tradition. […]

A lot of festival-goers skip the midnight shows, but this year’s edition featured two of the best I have seen in a decade of attending the festival, the Friendly Rich Show on Thursday and Michel F Côté’s post-rock soul sextet (juste) Claudette on Sunday. […] While the collective intrigue of the three Thursday concerts were hard to match, there was much to savor over the weekend. Among these […] the premiere performance by the trio of René Lussier, Martin Tétreault and Otomo Yoshihide, whose nakedly human endeavors to improvise as a trio had to overcome their long histories of playing with one another in duos, the results demonstrating both the promise and the pitfalls of improvised music.

FIMAV (May 15-19)

Kurt Gottschalk, All About Jazz New York, no. 75, July 1, 2008

Guitars reigned supreme at this year’s Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. The saxophones were there to be sure; Jean Derome, Joe McPhee and Roscoe Mitchell are not ones to sneeze at. But the 25th edition of FIMAV centered on the six-string, with Raymond Boni, Tim Brady, Nick Didkovsky, Fred Frith, René Lussier, Joe Morris, Marc Ribot and Elliott Sharp all on the bill. (…)

Sets by the members of the Ambiances Magnétiques collective from Montréal (100 miles southwest of Victoriaville) are always a much anticipated part of the week and this year made for three strong sets: Jean Derome’s Les Dangereux Zhoms revived as a sextet; Michel F Côté’s excellent organ lounge (juste) Claudette and a trio of René Lussier, Martin Tétrault and Otomo Yoshihide. The latter was an especially exciting outburst of two turntables and two guitars ( Yoshihide manning one of each), running from energy to abstraction. Yoshihide was originally set to play just turntables, but arrived with guitar in hand. Perhaps he sensed something about the frenzy of FIMAV 2008.

La maturité de L’OFF Festival de jazz

Serge Truffaut, Le Devoir, May 24, 2008

Enfin! Bravo! Merci aux organisateurs de L’OFF Festival de Jazz de Montréal d’avoir accompli un retournement temporel. La neuvième édition de cet événement ne se tiendra pas simultanément à l’autre, le «gros», si l’on peut se permettre. Après s’être rendu compte que l’offre musicale se confondait avec hyperinflation au début de l’été, les responsables de l’Off ont décidé de devancer les dates. Bref, il se déroulera du 13 au 21 juin.

La deuxième modification apportée est géographique. Adieu le Patro Vys, bonjour le Dièse Onze, qui a ceci de bien qu’il est un club de jazz à l’année. Jazz et resto situé au 4115 A du boulevard Saint-Denis, pour être précis. Les autres points de chute sont les mêmes que ceux de l’édition antérieure: le Lion d’or et le Pub Saint-Ciboire. Auxquels s’ajoutent cette année…

… La Sala Rossa. Et là, si l’on peut dire, c’est l’autre bonne nouvelle de cette année. Voici de quoi il s’agit: les organisateurs de l’Off se sont associés à ceux du festival Suoni per il popolo, qui se tiendra du 1er au 30 juin. Cette alliance, selon les confidences de Jean-Jules Pilote, cheville ouvrière de l’Off, devrait s’étoffer au cours des prochaines années.

C’est à espérer. Car au cours des prochaines semaines, ce duo d’organisateurs va proposer deux spectacles à La Sala Rossa: le Sun Ra Arkestra, dont on a parlé la semaine dernière, le 14 juin, et le Barnyard Drama, le quartet Lauzier, Myhr, Martel, Tétreault ainsi que Gordon Allen le 15 juin. Prix du billet de Sun Ra: 25$, alors que celui du lendemain se détaille entre 14 et 16$.

Puisqu’on décline les histoires d’espèces sonnantes, il faut insister sur un fait économique fondamental. C’est sérieux, très sérieux même. Le rapport qualité/prix inhérent aux shows de l’Off est REMARQUABLE! Le coût d’entrée des spectacles à l’affiche du Dièse Onze est de 8$. Ceux du Pub Saint-Ciboire sont gratuits. Ceux du Lion d’or: 20$ en prévente ou 25$ à la porte pour deux shows ou 15$ pour celui débutant à 21h30. Pour les détails, on peut se renseigner au

Bon. Après lecture du programme, six des shows au Lion d’or sont à retenir: la Fanfare Pourpour, qui aura l’accordéoniste et chanteur suédois Lars Hollmer pour invité. Cette fanfare à la veine humoristique indéniable est toujours dirigée par l’immense Jean Derome. Quoi d’autre? Il suffit d’écouter leur album paru sur étiquette Ambiances Magnétiques pour s’apercevoir que les membres de cette grande formation excellent dans l’alchimie des folklores du monde.

Le 18 juin, le saxophoniste et clarinettiste Chet Doxas va proposer un spectacle propre à aiguiser toutes les curiosités: Le Mur de Jean-Paul Sartre. Doxas a composé une série de thèmes inspirés, donc, de ce chef-d’œuvre littéraire qu’il interprétera en compagnie de Stéphane Allard et Zoé Dumais aux violons, de Jean René à l’alto, de Sheila Hannigan au violoncelle, de Zack Lober à la contrebasse, de son frère Jim à la batterie, tous sous la direction de Jon Sapoway.

Le même soir, mais après Doxas, les musiciens phares des labels DAME et Ambiances Magnétiques vont occuper la scène pour improviser à tout va. Autour de Derome, on retrouvera Joanne Hétu au saxo, Charity Chan au piano, Diane Labrosse à l’échantillonnage, Lori Freedman à la clarinette basse, Guido Del Fabbro au violon, Rainer Wiens à la guitare et l’incontournable Pierre Tanguay à la batterie.

Le 20 juin, le très courageux, le musicien essentiel, le contrebassiste battant Normand Guilbeault va décliner ses compositions retraçant la vie de Louis Riel. Il sera flanqué de quatorze musiciens, narrateurs et projectionnistes. C’est au Lion d’or le 20 juin à 20h. La veille, au même endroit, on aura droit à l’accouplement jazz et poésie avec José Acquelin, Renée Gagnon, Hélène Monette, Carole David et Jean-Marc Desgent.

Enfin, le 21 juin, l’affiche est alléchante parce que… parce que… le saxophoniste Janis Steprans a réuni trois autres saxos autour de lui pour clôturer cette 9e édition. André Leroux sera au soprano, David Bellemare au ténor, Jean Fréchette au baryton et Steprans, bien entendu, à l’alto. Simon Lévesque à la contrebasse et Dave Laing à la batterie vont rythmer le tout.

Les billets sont en vente à L’Oblique, à L’Échange, à L’Articulée ainsi qu’à la Casa Del Popolo et à Cheap Thrills pour les shows du 14 et du 15 juin.


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