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Confitures de Gagaku

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Album Review

Confitures de Gagaku ("Gagaku Jam" or "Gagaku Preserves") was Jean Derome's first album under his own name. The idea for this project, inspired by Japanese gagaku, magic squares, and haïkus, dates back to 1983. Over the next five years, Derome composed the 11 pieces that would come together on this album. Some, such as "Saturne" and "Oiseaux," were first recorded for his duo albums with René Lussier. Derome recorded Confitures de Gagaku in Winter 1988 with an 11-piece ensemble made of flutes, clarinets, saxophones, keyboards (piano and synthesizers), double bass, percussion, and vocals. Some names are regulars of the Ambiances Magnétiques stables: Pierre Cartier, Guillaume Dostaler, Robert M. Lepage, Jean-Denis Levasseur, Pierre Tanguay. Others are less usual contributors and one must point out the presence of jazz singer Karen Young who plays a central role in the project, delicately giving life to the haïkus. Confitures de Gagaku is not Japanese music and does not sound the least exotic for that matter. This is musique actuelle of the purest Montreal brand, only it is less frenetic than usual: slower pace, bigger place for silence, more meditative. But "Nouveaux Oiseaux" is a typical angular-bouncy Derome melody. Somewhere between jazz, contemporary classical, and Fred Frith's softer projects, Confitures de Gagaku, albeit occasional lengths ("Lonely Eye Can't See," for example), was a very strong debut, inhabited by a calm atmosphere one will rarely find again in Derome's works. The album was recorded direct to two digital tracks with one stereo microphone. Surprisingly, sound quality is very good. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: 29 June 1955 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the most visible figures of Montreal's musique actuelle scene, saxophonist and composer Jean Derome is also one of the instigators of the music community represented by the Ambiances Magnétiques label he co-founded. The fact that he is a graduate of the College of Pataphysics and was the recipient of the prestigious Freddie Stone Award in 1992 goes a long way to explain the blend of absurd, childish fun and dead-serious avant-garde jazz found in his compositions. When asked what kind of music...
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Confitures de Gagaku, Jean Derome
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