The George Bouchard Group's Listen to Your Dreams: Live at Mirelle's is pure undiluted straight-ahead jazz by a buncha guys who know what the hell they're doing and have been at it for a long time (37 years for Bouchard). The sextet features three horn players, a rhythm section, and a mid-ground pianist, Charles Benzig, who has some of the coolest comps going. Catch what he does on the very first cut before heading out for his solo. You'll rarely hear so fully musical an undercurrent in accompaniment, and when he fades into true comp chops so as not to overpower the upcoming bassist's solo…talk about a trifecta!
Bouchard plays alto and soprano sax while Andrew Grossbard mans a second tenor, with Dave Smith on trumpet and flugelhorn. The three trade off frontline work then step back to form a chorus or single-unit melodic conveyance. There's little to no call-and-response play or duet duals; instead, everything moves to forward the songs rather than collect tidepools of exotica. This makes for a highly flowing atmosphere within which individual voices are more like linguistic subordination and imagery enhancement than blow session or Olympian marathon…though they do push the boundaries every so often, to very good effect.
The reason you'll hear chains of nightclub applause is because the solos indeed flow like wine at a wedding reception, Bouchard charting in lots of room for 'em. Each cut gets a full intro and then everyone goes to work parsing the elements, forming returns to pure thematics in order to prep for the next round, so when I say this is straight-ahead stuff, I'm referring to the second branch, the first being the school that keeps fairly close tabs on the song as first written by whomever concocted it. In many ways, Bouchard's is the Middle Path of jazz, neither conservatively based nor blowing the walls out. It cleaves to discipline and harmonic values as a means for individual expression and, in that, is what most would concede is the true heart of the mode.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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