Jean Derome, founding figure of Montreal's musique actuelle scene, took the stage of L'Astral. Playing music from his last album To Continue with his regular group Les Dangereux Zhoms, comprised of longtime cohorts Tom Walsh on trombone, Guillaume Dostaler on piano, Pierre Cartier on electric bass and Pierre Tanguay on drums.
Derome, in deadpan delivery, described the tunes as a suite dedicated to the mundane incidents of life on the road, with titles like "Nez qui coule" and "Cogné de genou."
Dostaler is a very deliberate player in every comping phrase and every line. It took a while before Tanguay unleashed his irreverence in the solo of "Prières." Cartier sang "La grenouille et le boeuf" admirably in a trembling baritone and his electric bass allowed for a sustained, almost post-rock undertone to "Nez qui coule." Walsh often relied on glissandi and extreme high register, often complemented by a plunger. Derome, on alto and soprano saxophones and flute, played with a fairly clean tone, marked by intentional spurts of overblowing and other extended techniques.
Compositionally, the pieces featured some intriguing structures - the Berg-like stacked tone row of "La grenouille," the intervallic unisons of "Nez qui coule." The blend between Walsh's trombone and Derome's alto was especially notable. The centrepiece of the set was "Prières" (based on Protestant hymns), with the horns in harmonized chorale, the cued repeated figures for Tanguay's solo, and splitting the band into two time feels. Throughout the show, it was all very interesting but the spark was lacking - perhaps that was part of the tribute to the mundane as well.
The Kalmunity Après Jazz party was off the hook. It started off slow and took a while before people showed up, but around the stroke of midnight people started flooding in. Half of San Francisco's Jazz Mafia crew came in, and various drummers, singers and horn players came in to join us. Jazz Mafia seems to be Kalmunity's West Coast twin - they also hold down a weekly Tuesday gig, and are a sizable collective that has led to other smaller ensembles. Drummers E.J. Strickland and Obed Calvaire were just hanging out.