George Cables is one of those musicians that serious jazz fans love, but who’s not that well known to the broader public. He’s never crossed over in any way, because he’s never really tried to. He’s jazz to the core of his bones, and he’s had an incredible career both as a leader and as a sideman. He started out at the very end of the Sixties and really made his mark in the Seventies, when he played with Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Art Pepper, and a million other people. He’s recorded dozens of albums as a leader, and played on over 200 albums as a sideman. These days, he’s a member of the Cookers, the all-star band led by trumpeter David Weiss that also includes Eddie Henderson, Billy Harper, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart, among others. He also leads his own trio with bassist Essiet Essiet and drummer Victor Lewis.
He recently suffered a serious health issue, which resulted in him having his left leg amputated above the knee. We talk about that in this interview, as well as some of the people he’s played with over the years, how he chooses material — he writes a lot, but he plays a lot of standards as well — and much more. I hope you’ll enjoy this conversation, and come away with an interest in a guy whose name isn’t nearly as well known as it should be.
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Music heard in this episode:
George Cables, “Young at Heart” (I’m All Smiles)
Dexter Gordon, “As Time Goes By” (Manhattan Symphonie)