Martin Tétreault More from the press

In the press

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.

Barnyard Drama (Suoni / L’Off Festival)

David Ryshpan, Panpot, July 3, 2008

… The evening started off with Philippe Lauzier and Pierre-Yves Martel of Quartetski, turntablist Martin Tétreault and Norwegian guitarist Kim Myhr in three quiet and textural improvisations. The set started with Lauzier playing his alto saxophone with a plunger mute affixed on his bell, creating a muffled and distant sound. The blend of Tétreault’s turntables, Myhr’s guitar effects and Martel’s viola da gamba was impressive. It was difficult to determine where the sounds were coming from. Martel, unamplified, would bow furiously, unleashing streams of harmonics, and even thump his bow against the body of the instrument. Myhr and Lauzier used their instruments more as resonators for external objects and vocalizations. Myhr many times moved a spinning toy across the body of his classical guitar, which he alternately played lying flat on his lap or in normal playing position. Lauzier also played bass clarinet, emphasizing the overtones of the instrument, and pulled out a plastic tube through which he circular breathed. At that moment, with Lauzier playing the tube, the whole group combined to sound like a massive vacuum cleaner, or that noisy radiator from down the hall — a sound full of airy noise, feedback and harmonics…

The blend of Tétreault’s turntables, Myhr’s guitar effects and Martel’s viola da gamba was impressive.

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 lofffestivaldejazz.com

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.

Soundcheck Review

Dan Warburton, The Wire, no. 241, April 1, 2004

On 14 December 2000 in Montréal, turntablist Martin Tétreault and percussionist Pierre Tanguay recorded an offbeat but affectionate homage to the history of jazz in the form of ten three-minute pieces, one for each decade of Uhe 20th century. Three days later Tétreault mailed a DAT of the session to French improvising clarinettist Xavier Charles, who added his own contributions on 29 December before mixing down and pressing the result in a ridiculously limited CD-R edition two days later. The trio can indeed claim to have made the last jazz record of the 20th century.

In today’s Improv, whose practitioners scowl joylessly at laptops and inputless mixing boards, it’s a pleasant surprise to come across the same sense of humour that once characterised Lol Coxhill’s and Steve Beresford’s work on the Nato label. Recorded in mono, the first four tracks are followed by a Pythonesque “and now - stereo!" flourish. Though conceptually rigorous, this is no mere exercise in cheap pastiche. Charles’s quotations of Sidney Bechet are as affectionate as they are accomplished, but he makes no attempt to ape the beboppers. Instead he sticks to sustained grainy multiphonics swinging between the left and right channels, leaving Tétreault’s mangled Hammond organ samples and Tanguay’s manic drumming to reference 50s hard bop.

Similarly, “1960-1970 Free Jazz Tony Williams Lifetime" finds the clarinettist emitting distinctly 21st century spits and rustles. The deliciously cheesy closing track, “1990-2000 Acid Jazz Electronique", leaves the listener in little doubt as to what the musicians think of the genre, especially Charles who spends the entire track noodling, Feldman-like, on three adjacent semitones. The inner sleeve of this vinyl reissue Iovingly reproduces Delphine Touzet’s delightful original artwork - «Sauvons le Jazz!» indeed. It has rarely taken such a hammering as this.

A Gift Idea: Expand Someone’s Horizons

François Couture, actuellecd.com, November 25, 2003

The Holidays are closing in. Are you wondering what gifts to buy this year? You’re looking for the original gift, the one that will surprise and please? Why not expand the musical horizons of a loved one, a colleague at work, or a cousin you haven’t seen since last Christmas? Here’s my highly personal selection of gift ideas to introduce someone (or yourself, you’re allowed to indulge from time to time!) to the wonderful world of “musique actuelle."

That good ol’ song

It may seem a bit easy, but everyone likes a good song. That said, we don’t all have the same definition of what a good song is. And the artists in DAME’s catalog take some liberties with this format — that’s what makes things exciting. But Geneviève Letarte’s Chansons d’un jour will please anyone looking for songs with intelligent, accessible melodies and poetic lyrics. The soft melancholy of Chants des adieux, chants de la solitude will profoundly move dreamers in search of a different voice (Lou Babin’s, irresistible).

You don’t understand French? The lyrics of Jerry Snell’s album Life in the Suicide Riots will make you think hard about the world we live in. And the chugging guitar riffs of André Duchesne ’s Locomotive will catch the attention of any rock fan, even one deaf to French. Speaking of rock, the deconstructed rock of the all-female group Justine can keep you busy for a while, lyrics or no lyrics. Their first album (Suite) is a powerful mixture of progressist rock, while their second Langages fantastiques leans more toward improvised songs. If you want a taste of what songwriting avant-garde artists can come up with, try the compilation album Chante! 1985-2000, a wide and wild selection of unusual songs.

Party time

A time for celebrating, letting off steam, and disobedience, the party when applied to music can give way to a distortion of admitted rules. L’Orkestre des pas perdusinjects a new form of circus life into fanfare music, an infectious R ’n’ B (rhythm ’n’ brass, of course) that will refresh any parade. Its cousin Les Projectionnistes (both bands are led by Claude St-Jean) trades circus for rock and the brass section transforms from funny fanfare to frenetic funk. Taking a different approach, the Fanfare Pourpour leaves the official parade attire behind to favor the spontaneity of a street fanfare. It’s music for “everyone" (Tout le monde, the title of their first album) without dropping to the lowest common denominator.

In a similar spirit, but adding an East-European flavor and an incredible dose of energy is the group Interférence Sardines, which features two members of the neo-trad group Les Batinses. Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms walks a jazzier road, but its frivolous side easily becomes delightfully exuberant. The group’s three albums are all highly recommended, but Carnets de voyage remains an excellent place to start. And I find the same spirit of excessiveness and raw emotion in La boulezaille (Pierre Langevin and Pierre Tanguay) and Plinc! Plonc! (Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay), two albums where world music, jazz and free improvisation collide.

And to boldly go where few have gone before

Maybe you would like to go further and hook someone on a kind of “musique actuelle" that is more daring and abstract. Here are a few key albums from DAME’s catalogue in improvised and electronic music.

Martin Tétreault is one of the most fascinating experimental artists right now. His technique at the turntable spins 45 questions per minute. His recent album with Diane Labrosse, Parasites, puts disquieting quiet sounds under the microscope. And Studio — Analogique — Numérique, his fresh collaboration with the Japanese mastermind Yoshihide Otomo, proposes cutting-edge sonic research in very original packaging: a box set of three 3" CDs.

A pillar of the avant-garde music scene since the early ‘70s, Fred Frith remains the favorite of many connoisseurs. The two albums by the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet (with René Lussier, Nick Didkovsky and Mark Stewart) are essential listens. DAME also distributes the titles released by Frith’s own Fred Records.

One of the first groups from the DAME stables to have explored electroacoustic improvisation, the Klaxon Gueule trio revels in noisy textures and demanding pleasures. Their last two albums Muets and Grain met critical acclaim. And I also want to mention the Ohmix compilation album, a daring electronic project where select artists (including Martin Tétreault, David Kristian, John Oswald, Terre Thaemlitz, and Ralf Wehowsky) remix the albums of the label Avatar.

Finally, instead of sending out the usual Christmas cards, consider the sound post cards produced by the label Ouïe-Dire. These are regular post cards accompanied by 3" CDs from French experimental artists. And happy Holidays!

More texts

Downtown Music Gallery, The Wire no. 207

By continuing browsing our site, you agree to the use of cookies, which allow audience analytics.