Saxophonist George Bouchard was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Bouchard completed a degree in Economics at the University of Buffalo and then joined the Navy where he was a musician in the service for the next four years. During this time, Bouchard completed the Berklee School of Music correspondence course in arranging. After the Navy, Bouchard earned a Master's Degree in Composition from Memphis State University and began his college teaching career immediately upon graduation. Bouchard is a career educator and has taught continuously since completing his Master's degree in Composition at Memphis State in 1971. Bouchard has been on the faculty at Jackson State Community College in Tennessee and at William Paterson College in New Jersey before moving towards his present position as a Full Professor in Music at Nassau Community College.
For the past 37 years, every summer George has traveled throughout the U.S. and occasionally to Germany, Denmark, Scotland, England, Nova Scotia, Australia and New Zealand with the acclaimed jazz clinician team assembled by Jamey Aebersold
. Bouchard has been able to associate and to play with major jazz stars such as: Slide Hampton
, Art Farmer
, Bobby Shew
, Pat LaBarbera
, Bobby Watson
, Dave Samuels
, James Williams
, Ronny Mathews among many others. In several instances these concert tapes have been made into records by various impresarios.
Bouchard authored the book Intermediate Jazz Improvisation, which has become a best seller and is well used in the jazz education field. In 2008, Bouchard released Mellow Lane
, the CD contains all original material. In 2012, Bouchard produced two additional CDs of instrumental standards, Don't Rush the Dawn,
a quartet recording with musicians from the Louisville area, and With All Due Respect,
a sextet recording with musicians from Long Island, where Bouchard currently lives. Bouchard's 2013 release of original material is entitled Listen to Your Dreams. Listen to Your Dreams
is comprised of a sextet presenting eight selections composed and arranged by Bouchard. The CD was recorded live at Mirelle's in Westbury, New York. The recording quality is great and the energy of a live gig is certainly captured on the CD. The lineup is George Bouchard
on tenor and soprano saxophone, Andrew Grossbard on tenor saxophone, Dave Smith
on trumpet and flugelhorn, Charles Blenzig
on piano, John Ray
on bass and Ian Petillo
on drums. The music is very digestible throughout the CD and Bouchard does a great job of allowing each member in the ensemble ample space to shine with keeping the musical setting varied and moving between various styles. The three horn front line gives the CD a full sound and gives many color variations to each selection.
"I'm Your Baby" is AABBAA structured melody given a New Orleans flavored beat that has Smith's trumpet taking the lead with a moving harmony line from the reeds. The B section is varied with all three horns mainly playing tutti, with the exception of well-placed fills. The selection creates a fun setting for the soloist to shine and shine they do. Grossbard takes the first ride over the infections groove of Petillo's drums. Grossbard's tenor saxophone sound is fully balanced with energetic flurries and screaming lone notes to build his solo. Smith takes the next chorus and fills it with his warm trumpet lines, methodically developing each line through the harmony. Blenzig's piano accompaniment is always pushing the soloist to dig deeper, his ascending chordal movement certainly seems to inspire Smith's final phases of his solo.
"Nothin' I Can Do" seems to function as something of a centerpiece of the project, with excellent and inspired solos by all. Bouchard's writing is classy, ebullient, and always filled with fascinating textures. The opening title tune features a relaxed straight eight feel and haunting melody; "Elaine" topographies lovely dark hues and excellent three part horn writing. The players are absolutely top notch; the group sound is sound crisp and succinct with a mix of fragility and haunting beauty. All the players are tuned into each other with an insistent energy and momentum resulting in marvelous group interplay.
A truly fine outing, Bouchard has compiled an excellent set of tunes and his choice to record the date live really adds to the energy of the CD, showing that listening to your dreams can pay with spades.