George Cables: Back in Action
AAJ: Can you talk a little bit about playing with Dexter Gordon? It seems like he was one of the coolest men in jazz history.
GC: [Laughter] I think that's right. Dexter was a great jazz musician. He was like a history book. Somebody once asked Salvador DalÍ if he used drugs and DalÍ said, "Salvador DalÍ uses drugs. Salvador DalÍ is drugs!" Dexter Gordon played jazz, Dexter Gordon is jazz. He started with Lionel Hampton's band and he's influenced everybody through John Coltrane and just about everybody who's played the sax. He used to [say of] all the saxophonistsSonny [Rollins], Gene Ammons, Zoot Sims"That's my son."
Playing with Dexter was a marvelous experience. He wanted you to be aware of the history of the music. He would say, "You know, I think it's important to know the lyrics of a song so that you understand the song." That's why when he introduced a song he would recite the first eight measures so people would hear the lyrics. And people liked that anyway. They liked hearing Dexter do it in his voice. Dexter liked to tell me a story about how Lester Young once turned to his band [before playing a song], and people were asking, "What's he doing?" What he was doing was reciting the lyrics of the whole song to the band. That was very important to Dexter. And I'll tell you another thing. Dexter was steeped in the history but he was never afraid to learn something new. He'd be curious about something he decided he wanted to get into. Before I sign off, I just want to say thank you to everyone who communicated with me and sent their thoughts and prayers. It really meant the world to me while I was recovering.
George Cables, You Don't Know Me (Kind of Blue, 2007)
Frank Morgan, Live at the Jazz Standard, Vol. 3 (HighNote, 2003)
George Cables, Quiet Fire (SteepleChase, 1994)
Art Pepper, Complete Galaxy Recordings (Galaxy, 1989)
Art Pepper, The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions (Contemporary, 1977)
Joe Henderson, If You're Not Part of the Solution... (Milestone, 1970)