The FIMAV festival offered the opening slot of its 25th edition to frequent participant and Montreal musique actuelle mainstay Jean Derome, who rose to the occasion with, basically, a new band and two new long-form compositions. Plates-Formes et Traquenards documents the event in stellar clarity. Derome's Dangereux Zhoms is a long-standing project, though it spent most of the 2000s under wraps. The unit had been reactivated in 2007 to release a new CD (To Continue), but none of that material is found here. However, the current DZ lineup provides the backbone of the project: Derome on flutes and saxophones (and some creative conducting), trombonist Tom Walsh, pianist Guillaume Dostaler, bassist Pierre Cartier, and drummer Pierre Tanguay. Augmenting the group are a cross-section of Ambiances Magnétiques' larger circle of players, including vocalist Joane Hétu, guitarist Bernard Falaise (of Miriodor fame), and turntablist Martin Tétreault. This 12-piece ensemble performs two long suites (35 minutes each) by Derome, compositions that blend his typical driving odd-metered themes -- the second and last parts of "Plates-Formes," part six of "Tranquenards," other sections, too -- with jazzier bits, textural playing, and improvised and semi-improvised sections in subgroupings. Overall, the project sounds like a cross between Derome's jazzier writing and Canot-Camping, his conducted improv project. It is prime Derome: soulful at times, perplexing at others, chaotic one moment, extremely well organized the next, both majestic (in a serial music way) and silly (in a circus fanfare way). A must for fans of Derome's musique actuelle and an excellent audio recording to boot.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture