It’s easy to take George Cables for granted. The pianist has been so consistent throughout…
It’s easy to take George Cables for granted. The pianist has been so consistent throughout his career — performing in his swinging and personal post-bop style while never making a recording that was less than very good — that he’s often overlooked, particularly in the U.S., except by his fellow musicians. While he’s been a sideman with a who’s who of modern jazz — in recent years as a member of the allstar Cookers ensemble — Cables has been leading his own recordings since 1975 although the majority have been for overseas labels. Of the 40 albums that he has led since 1975, just 16 were made for American companies. Too Close for Comfort is his seventh for HighNote.
From the first song of the program, a cooking and reharmonized version of “Too Close for Comfort,” it’s obvious that Cables, who is now in his mid-seventies, has lost none of his creativity and enthusiasm through the years. Playing in an attentive trio with bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis, both of whom have several short solos although their main roles are following the pianist closely, Cables performs four originals, three standards, two songs by Bobby Hutcherson, and “Crazy Love”; the latter is taken as an exuberant duet with Lewis.
Throughout the set, Cables sounds as if he could be half his age, particularly on uptempo tunes such as the energetic “Klimo,” “Roses Poses” and a surprisingly rapid “I’ve Never Been In Love Before.” However, during the ballads, such as a tender “For All We Know” (taken as a duet with Essiet) and the sensitive and unaccompanied “A Valentine for You,” Cables displays a maturity that only comes with living a full life.
Lovers of modern jazz piano are advised to acquire a healthy sampling of Cables’ recordings, including this one.