George CablesGeorge Cables
Icons and Influences
HighNote ***1/2
Anyone in the know knows about George Cables. The former Jazz Messengers, Joe Henderson, Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper sideman has a substantial discography as a leader as well dating back to the 1970s, a body of work that also includes much more recently Morning Song and
My Muse already for Joe Fields’ HighNote label. And Cables is also, these days, a crucial element in what for many is the supreme heritage hard bop band on the planet, The Cookers.

The New Yorker turns 70 in 2014, and the pianist turns his attention on this his latest work, an album about sheer piano affinity and the pianist as above all a member of the band. It′s a solid trio affair with, joining him, bassist Dezron Douglas of The New Jazz Workshop and ex-Stan Getz drummer Victor Lewis, who returns from 2012′s My Muse, with tributes to two fallen jazz piano masters who passed away within the last year, Cedar Walton and Mulgrew Miller, in the opening tracks. Also included on Icons and Influences recorded in Brooklyn in September 2013 are absorbing takes on Brubeck’s ‘The Duke’ (Kevin Whitehead in the notes mentions the fact that Cables rehearsed singers for what became Ellington’s Second Sacred Concerts), Ellington’s ‘Come Sunday’, and Joe Henderson’s ‘Isotope’, plus a Lord Kitchener calypso among the dozen tracks. It’s wonderfully poised, Jamal-esque at times, measured and as sophisticated a piano trio album in the modern mainstream idiom that you’d go a long way to find. The left-hand piano rhythms have a swinging elasticity that’s infectious; and then there’s the melodic imagination at play when Cables lets the improvisation flow, not exactly rhapsodising, more a case of expressing his inner spirit. No one's reinventing the wheel here, part of the pleasure principle at work, yet Cables finds new things to say on the trio's gently tugging version of 'Nature Boy' where subtlety and elegance, watchwords on this album, reign supreme.
Released on 21 January