George Cables

Too Close For Comfort

As the veteran on this Hot Box marquee, George Cables presides over small Preservation Hall of late modern jazz. He came of age in the ’60s when the presiding wisemen of the day (Blakey, Rollins, Gordon, Pepper) still swung with a sustaining momentum. Those were the rules Cables learned, and they stayed with him.

Too Close For Comfort is a nice study of maturing within that tradition while hanging on to core principles. Cables has always been a very complete pianist, of course; his first album as leader in 1975 was a trio. But as a sideman on Dexter Gordon’s 1977 Sophisticated Giant album (his first session with drummer Victor Lewis, incidentally), he was an Olympian-class bebop pianist. His right hand did all the talking while the left hid in the shadows. He hasn’t lost that. There are such interludes on the present CD, but he connects them in the context of a more orchestrated trio format, where the pianist is the presiding multitasker juggling a procession of rhythmic and harmonic choices.

Cables is a connoisseur of contrasts. The title song is an appropriate opener. Its familiarity invites a listener’s attention, while the tune itself contains built-in tempo shifts. An opening stop-time sequence sets up a tension that’s released in the adjoining 4/4 section. “Klimo” is a Cables composition with similar back-and-forth juxtapositions of tempo. He enjoys the pleasures of subtle surprise through shifts in dynamics and density within a rooted stability of style and even personnel. He’s worked consistently with Lewis for 30 years, and bassist Essiet since 2005; they have ears that can hear around corners.

On Sale Now
December 2021
Roy Hargrove
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