George Cables – Icons & Influences – HighNote HCD 7255, 72:45 ****:
(George Cables – piano; Derzon Douglas – bass; Victor Lewis – drums)
The definition of icons and influences are very similar with the key component relating to the ability to affect the development character or to be a representative symbol of character. In this release, Icons & Influences, George Cables is clearly looking to memorialize those individuals who played a significant role in the development of his life as a musician.
The session is a potpourri of dedicated originals, jazz covers, and standards that showcase Cables’ formidable talent supported by a first-rate rhythm section with the veteran drummer Victor Lewis and the admirable young bassist Derzon Douglas. In the past twelve months, both Cedar Walton and Mulgrew Miller, who had noticeably different piano styles, passed away, and so Cables offers two very unique tributes to each one through his compositions “Cedar Walton” and “Farewell Mulgrew”. The different harmonic shadings and rhythmic nuances provide an evocative reflection of these two pianists and their influence on him, not necessarily in terms of style, but more in their commitment to the genre.
As Cables has readily admitted in his biography:”I never really listened to pianists when I was coming up…I’ve been more influenced by Miles or Trane and their whole bands rather than by any single pianist”.
George Cables is a well-traveled musician who from the ‘60s through the ‘80s worked with some of the very dominant players of that period including Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Art Pepper among others; all of whom could easily fit into the icon category. As a self-assured young pianist with a wealth of technique, he fit into any situation where a contemporary style of playing was required. Now in his late ‘60s, he has carried his upbeat concepts and orderly sense of expression to this session including Ellington’s “Come Sunday” and Bill Evans’ “Very Early”. In no small way, Cables has been buoyed by the very imposing bass playing of Derzon Douglas throughout, but it is especially prominent on Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke”, as well as the crisp approach and steady time-keeping of drummer Victor Lewis who keeps the groove intact on “Mo’Pan” and shows that the two of them are relaxed with each other during the course of this session.
This is a delightful trio recording that demonstrates that each of the participants has a particular comprehension of jazz customs.
TrackList: Cedar Walton; Farewell Mulgrew; Happiness; The Duke; Come Sunday; Little B’s Poem; Nature Boy; Very Early; Isotope; The Very Thought Of You; Mo’Pan; Blue Heart