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Red Mitchell / George Cables: Live at Port Townsend

Ken Dryden By

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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.

Mitchell's buoyant sound is immediately identifiable at the start of "Autumn Leaves, and Cables injects a bit of his own humor into his solo. Cables' shimmering setting of "Body and Soul and their performance of the overlooked standard "Tangerine, featuring a lively unaccompanied chorus by Mitchell, also stand out. But it is the bassist's lively blues "Big 'N' and the Bear, a tribute to two earlier greats of the bass (Walter Page and Jimmy Blanton) which he recorded on many occasions, that steals the show; Mitchell delights the audience with his humorous scat singing. Sadly, this Port Townsend performance turned out to be their only concert together.

Track Listing: Autumn Leaves; Don't Blame Me; Tangerine; Body And Soul; Stella By Starlight; Big 'N' And The Bear.

Personnel: Red Mitchell: bass; George Cables: piano.

Title: Live at Port Townsend | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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