When a jazz musician has been around as long as pianist George Cables, and has seen, heard and performed with so many other world-class musicians, such interactions are bound to leave a lasting impression, and on the trio date Icons and Influences Cables warmly salutes a number of those who have helped frame his musical persona and escorted him along a journey of wonder and discovery that has enabled him to become the superbly talented artist he is today. As most listeners would assume, several of Cables' influences are fellow pianists, and those remembered here include Cedar ...read more
Anyone who is serious about jazz will tell you that George Cables belongs in the pantheon of the greatest jazz pianists. Everyone, that is, except George Cables. Exceptional in every way, he is yet a team player. He sees himself as part of the rhythm section, and has always emphasized the group over the soloist. He has worked extensively since the late 1960s with many of the legends: Art Blakey, Art Pepper, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, and Dexter Gordon, to name a few. An integral part of the jazz legacy and history, Cables is now building a portfolio ...read more
Pianist George Cables' relationship with the late Helen Wray must have been one joyous romance. Contrary to the expectations of an album dedicated to a departed loved one, My Muse is a collection of uplifting and, frankly, happy-sounding originals and standards. Take away the personal context and you'd swear Cables and company were just enjoying the gig.Cables is an elegant pianist. He has the rare capability to play with great drama, but without ever becoming hard or abrasive. And of course he can swing with impeccable pace and timing, employing his deft sophistication that makes even simple passages ...read more
Morning Song, a recently discovered live set from 1980 led by the great George Cables, is a tale of two gigs. While the quartet performances are middling, Cables' overall dynamism, particularly on his solo piano turns, lifts the disc above mediocrity. The rhythm section of Cables, bassist John Heard and drummer Sherman Ferguson, is excellent, with the leader constantly inspiring Heard and Ferguson to meet his harmonic challenges. Heard's pizzicato on Up Jumped Spring" is luminous; it also drives the Latin burner Quiet Fire," with Ferguson finding an extra gear in his drum kit to complement Cables' ...read more
When George Cables sat at a bright red Steinway at the Society for Ethical Culture during the 2008 JVC Jazz Festival this past June and played his first notes of the evening, it was immediately clear that his recent illnesses, surgeries and convalescence had not blunted his enviable skills. He played an excellent set that night, selecting most of the tunes from his solo double-CD You Don't Know Me, an ambitious and impressive mix of spirituals, originals and standards. Cables can play with feathery lightness or deft, full-bodied chops. His fingers glide effortlessly along the keys, intoning ...read more
Throughout his more than four decades playing jazz, pianist George Cables has been among the most sought after, dependable and talented players on the scene. Born in New York City on November 14, 1944, Cables cut his teeth barely out of his teens and hasn't looked back, appearing on hundreds of recordings. Whether a sideman for a timeless luminary, taking the lead with his own band or playing solo, Cables' aggressive, flowing style and distinctive sound have made him a favorite among fans and fellow musicians.
In November, 2007 Cables was dealt a severe medical blow ...read more
George Cables doesn't get talked about too much anymore. Although he was prominent enough in the 70s to play with Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, and Freddie Hubbard, he has since disappeared somewhat from the mainstream scene. Consequently, HighNote's release of Morning Song, a collection of Cables' 1980 performances from San Francisco's The Keystone Korner, is an important artifact. Although the commercial sound of late 70s jazz can feel dated and contrived, it is a valuable reminder of the way things were. At the time of recording, Cables' career was on the rise. The preceding year had seen ...read more
Piano/bass duos are not as commonplace as piano/bass/drums trios, probably because duos rarely make up a regularly working group. That doesn't mean that the frequently one-off recordings by duos aren't of immense interest. The remarkable duo concert featuring bassist Red Mitchell and pianist George Cables (who had never played together) turned out to be Mitchell's final recording, made only a few months prior to his death in 1992. No rehearsal took place, aside from a brief discussion a week prior to the date, yet you can't tell that it is their first performance together. ...read more
During the final years of Art Pepper's life, from the mid-'70s through 1982, George Cables was the saxophonist's pianist of choice, both live and in the studio. Pepper called Cables Mr. Beautiful--not just for his playing, but also for his warm and loving personality. (In particular, Pepper appreciated Cables' positive attitude to white musicians, which apparently contrasted pleasantly with that of many other sidemen he'd worked with over the years, who'd denigrate Pepper behind his back.) Cables' playing illuminated a clutch of late-period Pepper albums.
One day--assuming the affection was mutual--we may get to hear a Cables tribute to Pepper. ...read more
With an urbane, beautifully harmonic, clean-edged sound, Portal seems an updated brand of West Coast cool, by way of the Northwest (Seattle) this time around, like a mix of Chico Hamilton's chamber bands, the fluid guitar work of Wes Montgomery, and that dry, cool approach of Paul Desmond's sax work stirred up in one groove-oriented band. Dave Peterson's guitar combined with George Cables' piano kick the harmonic mix up a notch or three on a set that depends more on the group sound than it does out-in-front soloing.Rhythm Tune" showcases drummer John Bishop's complex and engaging percussion work; ...read more
Art Pepper called him "Mr. Beautiful." Equally proficient as sideman or leader, George Cables has been producing quality jazz for the past thirty years. In addition to Pepper, he has provided support for an impressive list of masters, including Dexter Gordon, Frank Morgan, Joe Farrell, Frank Foster, Windard Harper, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, and Gary Bartz, the last of whom joins Cables on this recording.
Looking for the Light is the result of some introspection on the part of Cables, who has not been in good health recently. Mr. Cables composed eight of the disc’s ...read more
We don't get enough of George Cables these days. You know how it is; record for those little independent labels and somehow you just get lost in the major league shuffle. Look a little deeper and you'll find that Cables has made some great trio music in recent days, with two dates coming to my mind in particular, Night and Day on the Japanese DIW label and Cables' Fables from the pianist's SteepleChase oeuvre. Apparently the alliance with the latter concern has proven productive because there's been a great stream of trio discs to come as the product of that ...read more
In the last 15 years, our rush to anoint dozens of twenty-somethings as the new ‘marketable’ heroes of jazz, we have overlooked many master musicians. Recently though, I see that trend reversing. Artists such as Tommy Flanagan, John Lewis, and Hank Jones have signed domestic label recording contracts. With major label signings come their deserved critical acclaim and attention. Let me add to that list of masters deserving attention: Kirk Lightsey, Barry Harris, John Hicks, and George Cables.
Cables, born 1944, has been known domestically as a sideman to the likes of Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, ...read more
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