Styles: Avant-Garde Jazz, Modern Creative, New Orleans Brass Bands, Post-Bop, Jazz-Rock, Experimental
Trombonist, composer, and bandleader Claude St-Jean is part of a generation of artists who emerged on the Montreal creative music scene in the mid-'90s, in the wake of earlier musicians such as Jean Derome, Rene Lussier, Andre Duchesne, and Robert Marcel Lepage, who had begun recording on the Ambiances Magnetiques label in the '80s. St-Jean has worked with a wide array of Montreal and Quebec artists, including Diesel, Marie et Ses Quatre Maris, Trafic D'Influence, and David Running, but made his first big splash as a bandleader with L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus, a group he founded in 1993. The alternative brass band released its debut recording, T'auras Pas Ta Pomme, on Ambiances Magnetiques in 1996. From that initial CD, it was clear that St-Jean was fully in step with the adventurous spirit of Montreal's experimental "musique actuelle" scene, but was also out for a rollicking good time, composing and arranging a set of concise, punchy brass band tracks driven by the insistent groove of drummer Remi Leclerc and the pumping sousaphone of Jean Sabourin. However, L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus was not St-Jean's only band as a leader; the year of T'auras Pas Ta Pomme's release, the trombonist formed Les Projectionnistes, a harder-edged ensemble that retained L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus' propulsive momentum and memorable charts but added a dose of electric rock energy, thanks in large part to the presence of electric guitarist Bernard Falaise. In addition to its densely scored shorter tunes, Les Projectionnistes performed live improvisations along with classic silent films at Montreal's Usine C Theatre and at the Montreal and Toronto Jazz festivals; both styles of music can be heard on the band's debut Ambiances Magnetiques recording, Copie Zero, released in 1999. Meanwhile, St-Jean was remaining busy as leader of L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus, which released its second CD, Maison Douce Maison, again on Ambiances Magnetiques, in 1998. Although no electric instruments are present on Maison Douce Maison, the album is far more funked up and punchy than T'auras Pas Ta Pomme, as if a bit of the Les Projectionnistes vibe had found its way into the recording. Both L'Orkestre des Pas Perdus and Les Projectionnistes maintained fairly active live performance schedules in the late '90s and early 2000s, appearing in concert and at festivals in Quebec, throughout Canada, and occasionally in the United States and Europe. In the fall of 2001, Les Projectionnistes toured across North America, performing a new program of St-Jean compositions entitled Naive Music and Other Paradoxes.
- Dave Lynch (All Music Guide)