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George Cables

 

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best front men in jazz. He grew up in New York and by his middle twenties was making his first recordings. In 1969 he toured briefly as part of the famed Art Blakey Jazz Messengers, together with trumpet player Woody Shaw. By the next year both Cables and Shaw were on the West Coast and were playing and recording with saxophonist Joe Henderson and then with Shaw's own group.

Those were exciting times, as both Shaw and Henderson were moving away from the dominant hard-bop idiom of the times, in part influenced by the work of Miles Davis, and Cables played electric piano, as was often the custom of the day. He pursued the electric as well as the acoustic piano on the first recordings under his own name, which offered light funky tracks alongside more traditional standards. In 1976 the father of bop tenor saxophone playing, Dexter Gordon, returned to the United States from years of living in Europe and eventually hired Cables, who stayed with him until 1979. The group toured the United States and Europe and provided excellent exposure for the pianist. After all these years, I still remember the impression he made when I had the opportunity to hear this group. He was a good foil for the grand old man, offering support for his long solos, and providing apposite, though somewhat more modern, excursions when the spotlight was turned on him.

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