Interview with George Cables (Part 2)

In part one George answers questions about how he learned to play. Below, we look at the 250+ George Cables entries in the online Tom Lord discography.

Apologies to any musician on this list if their record is passed over quickly. It was a long interview, and there was no way George could comment on everything.

EI: Let’s just go from the beginning. In 1968 you recorded with a nice band, Paul Jeffrey, Jimmy Owens, Larry Ridley and Billy Hart. So how did that happen, your first record?

The Electrifying Sounds Of Paul Jeffrey : Paul Jeffrey Quintet : Jimmy Owens (tp) Paul Jeffrey (ts,el-ts,varitone) George Cables (p) Larry Ridley (b) Billy Hart (d)
New York, August 8, 1968

GC: Jimmy Owens actually went to the High School of Music and Art. I don’t know if that had to do with it, or even if we knew each other at that time. Our paths had probably crossed. Paul Jeffrey, it was Paul’s date, so it had to come from Paul, but I don’t remember our history.

I do remember Billy Hart was was really encouraging me at that time.  I was sort of shy, you know, “I’m not ready, I gotta practice.” Billy and I met at St. Peter’s Church. We played a little bit at the church, and then we kind of hooked up, and the next thing you know, he was coming to jam sessions at the house, and we got to be friends. He was always encouraging, like, “Listen, man, you gotta get out there, you gotta go out and get the gigs.” So I think he was the one who got me hooked up with my second gig on the road with Buddy Montgomery. Buddy Montgomery in Indianapolis, and that kind of started the ball rolling.

My first gig on the road was with Stanley Turrentine, a week in the Bohemian Caverns in DC, that was right down the road.

EI: So what year was that?

GC: That was 1968, earlier that year. Andrew White played electric bass on that. Stanley Turrentine, that was an interesting gig.

EI: Turrentine gave you some advice on how to learn the blues?

GC: Oh, yeah, he told me about his experience in Texas. He said, “George, did you know when I learned to play the blues?”

I said, “No.”

“Well, I was in Texas, and I was playing at this bar, you know, and back then you had to walk the bar, that was a kind of a corny tradition. But I was a young stud, and I said, I’m not doing that old time stuff. So somebody said, ‘walk the bar’ and I said, I’m not walking the bar, I’m playing the saxophone, and he kept asking and I kept refusing, so later in the night, I went up to him, and he had this gun with a long barrel, and he said, ‘Look, I want you to walk the bar and spill nary a drop of whiskey!'”

And Turrentine said he walked the bar, and that’s when he figured out what the blues was really about! [laughs] He played the blues for real!

EI: I love that story.

Alright, the second thing in the discography is Frank Foster, actually a Blue Note record with some nice people on it, but it didn’t come out at the time, right?

Frank Foster : Manhattan Fever : Burt Collins (tp,pic-tp-1) Jimmy Cleveland (tb) Ed Pazant (fl,as,oboe-1) Frank Foster (alto-cl-1,ts) George Cables (p) Buster Williams (b) Mickey Roker (d)
Englewood Cliffs, N.J., January 31, 1969

GC: No, no. I only vaguely remember that, but I was thrilled to be playing with these big time guys. Frank Foster was very nice, very gracious with me. Buster Williams I had just played with earlier that month, if this is correct. Then Mickey Roker I had played with for the first time a couple weeks before that. I had just joined Art Blakey’s band, and Buster was playing with Buhaina that week, with Woody Shaw, Woody got me the gig with Bu.

EI: How’d you first meet Woody Shaw?

GC: Oh, I’m glad you asked, because I get a chance to talk about my friend and I guess in a way a mentor, Jim Harrison, who was a producer then, you know, a promoter. And he was friendly to young talent, which made sense. He was looking for young guys who could play, you know, and he would encourage and get us gigs, you know, the rhythm section — me, Lenny White, and Clint Houston — to play weekends like Saturday afternoon at Slug’s with three trumpets, stuff like that. I remember Charles Tolliver was one, I got to meet Charles then. And some other days like that, with alto players or whatever.

But one of the things Jim booked was out in Westbury, and one was a concert with Woody Shaw and Booker Ervin. So we got to play with them, and Woody was impressed with Lenny and myself, and Clint, but he got Lenny a gig, both of us a gig with Jackie Mac, which was maybe the last week in ’68 at Slug’s.

And then I played another gig at Slug’s, I don’t know if it was Billy Mitchell or what, but Mickey Roker was on that. Then Woody said, “Hey, you know, Bu’s getting a new band together, and he told me to bring this new piano player!” So there you go! Thank you!

So I went out with Bu, and that week, Tuesday night we started with Bu, probably started at 10 o’clock, maybe 9, but I think it was 10. But whatever it was, Art was on time that night. Usually that wasn’t the case. But he made sure he was on time that night. And I realized a lot later why. We were on stage and the old band came in. And I think Julian Priester was one of them, might have been Ronnie Matthews, I’m not sure, but what happened, Art didn’t tell the other guys that he was letting them go, that he was getting a new band.

EI: No!

GC: I remember those looks, man. I mean, they were pissed off. And I don’t blame them! Coming to the gig and there’s another band on stage!  I remember being on stage and I saw someone glance my way, and I said, “Shit, I’m not getting off of this stage! I’m never leaving this stage!”

At some point everything was cooled out.

We were there for the week, and the next week we all went to Mexico, my first trip out of the country.

EI: Art Blakey, Woody Shaw…

GC: Buster Williams and Billy Harper.

EI: Great band!

The next one in your discography is a New Jersey gig with Blakey. It’s a bootleg, with Scotty Holt and Carlos Garnett.

Mellow Blues : Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers : Woody Shaw (tp) Carlos Garnett (ts) George Cables (p) Scotty Holt (b) Art Blakey (d)
Live, New Jersey, April 15, 1969

GC: Oh, wow! Well that must have been, yeah, 1969. I remember playing with Scotty Holt a lot.

EI: Yeah, and then Jan Arnet is on bass on the next one, that summer at Newport:

Art Blakey & His Jazz Messengers Concert (Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI, Jul 5, 1969) : Woody Shaw (tp) Carlos Garnett (ts) George Cables (p) Jan Arnet (b) Art Blakey (d)
Live “Newport Jazz Festival”, Newport, RI, July 5, 1969

GC: [Sings “The Moontrane”] Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw…

EI: So this is the Lighthouse, which spawned a few records.

Joe Henderson : If You’re Not Part Of The Solution, You’re Part Of The Problem : Woody Shaw (tp,flhrn) Joe Henderson (ts) George Cables (el-p) Ron McClure (b,el-b-1) Lenny White (d) Tony Waters (cga-2)
Live (*), Hermosa Beach, CA, September 24, 25 & 26, 1970

GC: Ah, the Lighthouse. Yes, it did.

EI: Joe Henderson with Woody Shaw, with Ron McClure and Lenny.

GC: It was Joe Henderson’s band, actually.

EI: Uh huh. But that’s such a powerful combination, Joe and Woody.

GC: Oh yeah. Well when we first started that band, we played three weeks at the East Village Inn, and Reggie Johnson was a part of that band. When we first started, there were a few people, it wasn’t much to get in, so people would come in, but I remember one night, there was one guy in the front, and he was asleep…

EI: Really? For Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, and you and Reggie and Lenny?

GC: Ha! But I guess you know, those were some other days. That was like 1970. It was not a great time. But the band was exciting, you know. We were getting our music together, the repertoire together. The piano wasn’t much to write home about, it was a 66 key piano with some keys broken. But I was young and really excited, and then I went home after the first rehearsal, and even before the first rehearsal, working on “Caribbean Fire Dance,” “Afro-Centric,” “Power to the People,” and “A Shade of Jade,” you know. All of those. Wow. That was exciting, Lenny and Woody and Joe and Reggie and myself, you know!

EI: Did you talk about music much with either Joe or Woody?

GC:  Well, sometimes. Woody and I were really good friends. At one time, if you saw Woody you saw me, and if you saw me, you saw Woody. We’d spend quite a bit of time together hanging out, listening to Folkways records of pygmy music. Woody was also a big Bartok fan, you know.

We also watched old black and white movies. Woody had retinitis pigmentosa, so his sight wasn’t great: he had trouble seeing shadows, he was blind at night. So he memorized the credits on the films. We’d sit and watch them. I love old black and white films, especially film noir, so that’s when I started learning about the names, the directors and so on.

EI: I’m sorry to ask these types of questions, but did you talk about scales or anything?

GC: Well, we talked about intervals. General stuff, playing fourths, and talked about playing against the chord, and playing something different, saying, “It’s our turn now, we’ve got to find a way!” Doing more rhythms, and playing different stuff, expanding harmonies, for him through fifths, other things.

He talked about his love of Eric Dolphy, and he was supposed to be going on a gig to Paris to play with Eric, but they day he was supposed to leave he found that Eric had passed away. He said he just sat on the edge of the bed, you know.

It’s funny to go back and think exactly what we talked about, but I know that we did talk about different pieces. We spoke a lot about Larry Young, and about the tonal center, and moving around. There was one song he loved of Larry’s called “Obsequious.” Playing in the chord, and around the chord, and using the intervals to get outside of the chord.  I think I said before, it got to be where I could tell where he was going, I could kind of hear where he was at. We had a similar harmonic concept at that time, an overall concept, kind of what we wanted to hear harmonically.

Trane and McCoy had a lot to do with that, letting the harmonies go, how you play against the chord, the use of fourths, and how the chords were structured. So you know, D major, but we’d play in the neighborhood. In “Moontrane,” the chord is voiced in fourths.  We know we had two things to go with: The chord was D major, and the voicing was in fourths. If you think about the voicing, that could take you somewhere else, not just thinking about the chord. As your hand touches the piano, how you structure that, then you might take it and start somewhere else with the voicing, rather than just D major. Also, the melody, the direction that’s going in.

Golly, it’s been a while.

But I really loved that time with Woody. Playing music with Woody. We were all thinking about it. If you listen to that Blackstone Legacy record, we were playing a lot outside of the chord. In the chord and out of the chord. There are certain songs that we’d play more in on, and the others would be more out. There’s one I wrote called “New World” on that, and the solo section implies that you’re going to be playing sort of F-sharp minor, but the figure in the right hand, the harmony that’s happening, I don’t even really remember…But I remember that it was in and out of the chord.

And then I remember, Lester Koenig was the only producer that ever came out of the control booth and said, “George, do you think you could stretch out more, harmonically?”

I said, “Oh, OK!”

I guess, I was staying around that F-sharp, but you know, OK! I was trying to do the right thing, you know for the record, but those are really exciting days, and you were free to experiment, and with Joe especially. When we’d play, he’d give us solo time and you could move around, you know.

EI: What was Joe Henderson like to work with?

GC: He was interesting, he was a private person. As for talking, sometimes when we were rehearsing we’d go up to his house and stay up and talk, and he’d have the structures of the chord, like a Major 7 b5 #9 you know, what was that? These days, someone might write a C/D-flat, which really doesn’t tell you that there’s an F in that scale. Maybe that’s the kind of sound that somebody wants. Some of the time, a slash chord for me means the voicing they want, the type of sound that they want, but it doesn’t tell you what’s in their mind. Maybe they’re not thinking about anything else, you know, all of it is sound? But Joe was very specific, this is the chord, this is how you build up. He’s going to build the foundation, there’s an F and this is a D-flat major, you know. There’s an A-flat, and an E along with the F, you know. He would build chords up like that. He was specific about the way he felt about his concept.

EI: Did he play the chords on the piano?

GC: Sometimes, but not much.

EI: Woody Shaw played some piano, didn’t he?

GC: Not much. I don’t remember that! [laughs] Joe played piano though, he could play. He didn’t do a lot of it though. Maybe at the very beginning he would show me more about what he was thinking about. These guys would leave you to your own devices, in a way. But if it was something, if I was playing to far away from the chord, or playing too outside, or playing against the chord too much, he’d remind me, ring me in and say, “You know, George, could you play closer to the chord. I think I play pretty good changes, could you play closer to the chord?” I said “Okay.”

But before that, before the Joe Henderson thing, in late 1969 I went to California with Sonny Rollins. Still, I was playing, or trying to play, I was always trying to get in there somewhere. For Sonny though, the right thing to do is just play the right changes, play the right chord. That was a great experience with Sonny. Now he was definitely a private person.

EI:  That Sonny record Next Album is coming out in a second here…Before that,we’ve got In Pursuit of Blackness, and then Blackstone Legacy.

Woody Shaw: Blackstone Legacy : Woody Shaw (tp) Gary Bartz (as,sop) Bennie Maupin (ts,b-cl,fl) George Cables (p,el-p) Ron Carter (b-1) Clint Houston (b-2) Lenny White (d)
New York, December 8 & 9, 1970

EI: A lot of “black” in the titles.

GC: Yeah, that was the black period. Later, Black is the Color by Joe Henderson.

Oh, I see Crankin’ is coming up.

EI: Yeah, a Curtis Fuller record on Mainstream. I’ve never heard of this one.

Curtis Fuller : Crankin’ : Bill Hardman (tp) Curtis Fuller (tb) Ramon Morris (ts) George Cables (el-p) Bill Washer (g) Stanley Clarke (b) Lenny White (d)
New York, July 27 & 28, 1971

GC: We did that for Mainstream.

EI: Playing electric piano with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, look at that.

GC: We swung, we did different things on it.

EI: Joe Chambers, oh, I have this one.

Joe Chambers : The Almoravid : Woody Shaw (tp) Garnett Brown (ts) Harold Vick (ts,fl) George Cables (el-p) Cecil McBee (b) Joe Chambers (d)
New York, February 10, 1971

GC: The Almoravid! What do we do on there, “Early Minor”… Didn’t we do some more songs?

EI: I think they might be coming up. It goes in strict chronological order, it might be separated, recorded two months apart.

GC: Oh. And we did another record called Phantom of the City. I had done a record with that title, but Joe Chambers did one too, and we played that tune on it.

EI: Here’s this Atlantic record of Max Roach.

Lift Every Voice And Sing : Max Roach With The J.C. White Singers : Cecil Bridgewater (tp) Billy Harper (ts) George Cables (p) Eddie Mathias (el-b) Max Roach (d) Ralph MacDonald (perc)The J.C. White Singers (vcl group) : 22 voices incl soloists : Ruby McClure (vcl-1) J.C. White (vcl-2) Dorothy White (vcl-3)
New York, April 7, 1971

GC: Yeah, that was interesting, because we played with a choir.

EI: The J.C. White Singers.

GC: They were really great. I think we did only part of them, so the last day of rehearsal, they said, “You know, you guys, this has been a great experience for us, but now we’d like to do our thing for you, so here you go.” Boom! They opened up, and I felt like I was going to be picked up and thrown against the wall, it was so strong so powerful.

EI: What was Max Roach like?

GC: Oh, Max. Max was very nice, very business like, but very warm to me. You know, some times he could go off, but he never did that with me. I worked with Max and Abbey, you know, and Gary Bartz was in the band. I’m trying to think who played bass, I think a couple times Reggie Workman played bass, but somebody else was in there.

EI: It says Eddie Mathias here.

GC: Oh, Eddie Mathias, yeah, yeah. So anyway, playing with him, that was a good record, but we played different places with Max, because he was very business like, he paid well. He had another air about him. And one night Thelonious Monk came out to hang out!

EI: Really!

GC: At Club Baron. I couldn’t believe it! We got off the stand, and he kept looking at me.  You know, I’m not one to go up to Thelonious and go, “Hello, Mister Monk!” All I know is that he’s a different kind of guy. He’s Thelonious Monk. He’s someone apart from everybody. I might say something to Max, but who knows what to say to Thelonious Monk? And that night we had a party at Max’s house, and Monk was there, and the night after, Max said “You know, that’s the most I’ve heard Monk say in years.” And I hadn’t heard him say anything that night! [Laughs]

EI: [Laughs]

GC: And Max said “You know, he likes you.” And man, I haven’t come down from that yet!

When I first saw Max, it was one time that I went to the Five Spot by myself. I think it was Freddie Hubbard, maybe it was James Spaulding, I’m not sure, and for sure it was Ronnie Matthews, and I don’t remember who was playing bass. Abbey was singing, and they played “Nommo”, and he got off, and I was in the front row, excited, a young guy, and Abbey happened to sit at my table, and Max came over. I was like, oh man, is he going to be mad at me for hitting on Abbey? No chance! He came over, looked at me and said, “Do you know what signature that was, what meter that was?” And I knew the answer to that question, I said “7/4.” And he said “Good.” It was really nice, he wanted to engage people, get people involved.

There were two times where I screwed up when we were playing Club Baron. Abbey was singing, and they called “Living Room” or whatever it was, one song, and I started playing, and they looked at each other and smiled, and we played, and I thought wow, they dug what I played. Afterwards Max came up, and said, “You know, we called this song, but you just started playing that.” So they just smiled to each other, and started with me. Gary was on that gig. And there was another time we were playing “Nommo”, and just one time I got screwed up and said, “Oops,” you know: sometimes you make a mistake and you have this stupid smile on your face and I kind of looked up at them, and Max shot daggers my way! That smile didn’t fade, it just disappeared! [Laughs]

That was a great experience. He was so disciplined. Working with Max, he was so disciplined. A gentleman.

This reminds me, I was working with Jimmy Cobb, in, whose band was it? I think maybe it was We Four, or maybe with Javon, or something. We were in Kansas City, so we were walking, we went to this rib joint, the one that everybody talks about, and we went to the black union.  We knocked on the door, and somebody was in there, these old guys were playing “Bird Feathers.” Older, at least, because I’m old guys now! Older than me, I don’t know if they were older than Jimmy. They had the fake book out, playing “Bird Feathers.”  And they said “Hey, Jimmy Jimmy! What’s happenin’, man? What’s your name, man? George Cables, and you play piano? Play some piano, man!” So I played something with them, I don’t think there was a bass player or anything, and one of the guys said, “Damn! That boy’s a genius!” And Jimmy never let me forget it, so now whenever the opportunity rises when I see him, it’s always, “Damn! That boy’s a genius!” [laughs]

Luis Gasca : For Those Who Chant : Luis Gasca (tp,flhrn) Hadley Caliman (fl) Joe Henderson (ts) George Cables, Greg Rolie, Mark Levine (p,el-p) Richard Kermode (org) Chepito Areas (vib) Carlos Santana, Neal Schon (g) Stanley Clarke (b) Lenny White, Michael Shrieve (d) Victor Pantoja, Mike Carabello (cga) Carmelo Garcia, Coke Escovedo (timb)
San Francisco, August 17 & 18, 1971

GC: Oh, For Those Who Chant. Now, I’m not going to tell you everything that was going on there… [laughs]

EI: [laughs]

GC: We did that at CBS at a studio they built for Santana in San Francisco, on Folsom and 5th, I think. It was huge. They cut that in half and made the Automatt, I think that was part of one of the studios, maybe the smaller one.

We were in the big studio with everybody in the world, Carlos is on the record: Carmelo, Coke, Escovedo. Victor Pantoja, man, and even what’s-his-name came by. Things happening all over the place, piano, electric piano, organ, Stanley, Lenny, and at one time there were three drummers playing at one time, Michael Shrieve, and the cat that was playing with Sly.

That’s when I found out how important Trane was to Carlos. I gained a lot of respect for him, and got to know him better, and was really impressed with him.

EI: We got some Paul Jeffrey here, with Wilbur Ware and T.S. Monk.

Paul Jeffrey : Family : Joe Gardner (tp,flhrn) Stuart Butterfield (fhr) Bob Stewart (tu) Paul Jeffrey (ts) Hamiet Bluiett (bar,fl) George Cables (p) Stanley Clarke, Wilbur Ware (b) T.S. Monk (d)
New York, 1972

GC: Am I on there?

EI: Yeah.

GC: Oh, ok, Stanley Clarke, Wilbur, wow. So, I’m not going to remember everything…

EI: Yeah, well there’s so many records to look at, don’t worry about it. I wasn’t even born yet. Here’s some more Henderson, Black is the Color.

Black Is The Colour : Joe Henderson (ts,fl,alto-fl,perc) George Cables (p,el-p) David Horowitz (synt) Georg Wadenius (g) Dave Holland (b) Ron Carter (el-b) Jack DeJohnette (d) Ralph MacDonald (perc,cga)
March or April 1972

GC: Oh yeah. Is that the one with Jack? Jack played piano on one track, too, and I played electric piano. Dave Holland…

EI: I remember having this record in high school…

GC: [laughs] Ah, Freddie!

Freddie Hubbard Quintet Concert (Carnegie Hall, New York, NY Jul 4, 1972 Early Show) : Freddie Hubbard (tp) Junior Cook (ts,fl) George Cables (p) Alex Blake (b) Lenny White (d)
Live “Carnegie Hall”, New York, July 4, 1972

GC: Yeah, Junior Cook, Alex Blake, Lenny White. Freddie, I worked with Freddie for about 5 years, and I loved every minute of it.

EI: So contrast Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw, if I may ask such a dumb question.

GC: Well, Freddie, he was really outgoing. He had established himself as Freddie Hubbard many years before that. You know, Freddie would play against the chord sometimes, but I think Woody was still trying to get with something a bit further out.

Freddie would always compete with anybody who came on stage. If you played high, then Freddie would play high. If you played this way, Freddie would too. But Woody was always very aware that Freddie was ahead of him, and Freddie was Freddie Hubbard. Freddie liked Woody, Woody was a younger trumpet player that Freddie was always interested in, I think. Woody was a good composer, but I think Freddie was a more prolific composer, written a lot of different stuff. Freddie was a great composer, and an underrated composer. Think of all the colors, all the stuff that he was into, “Intrepid Fox”, you know. Woody was a great trumpet player and was known for his musical concept, but I think Freddie probably was a more complete trumpet player. Plus, he could play better piano, Freddie could. He would sit down and play these solos on “Giant Steps.”

EI: Really?

GC: Yeah, right. Freddie I think was a bigger and better technician. Woody is always striving for something new, for a new vision, that’s what was on Woody’s mind. Freddie, in a sense was doing that in his way, but he would want to be recognized for who he was, so sometimes that would take him in another direction. What was that record, where he went to funk, on Atlantic… I remember I saw him after that at a date, he was on his way to Slugs, and he said, “Oh man, you’re going to hate me when you hear this record…” [laughs]

But you know, Freddie was a trumpet virtuoso without a doubt. At a certain point in time, he was without peer. I love Freddie and Woody, but you know, I think Freddie had a little more together in many ways, in ways like chops, and the business, and stuff. Yeah, I just love him. It seemed like when Freddie put the trumpet in his mouth, he could play anything he wanted. Any direction. Whatever he thought of he’d play, that was Freddie.

You know, he’s also got a reputation for being crazy and wild and stuff, but Freddie was warm and sensitive, sometimes he didn’t seem like it, but he was a very warm and sensitive man. And very outgoing. At one point he was very shy, I think. I know he’s a very warm, very giving person, that I can tell you first hand.

EI:  And then Sonny Rollins, Next Album, 1972.

Next Album : Sonny Rollins Group : Sonny Rollins (ts,sop) George Cables (p-1,el-p-2) Bob Cranshaw (b,el-b) Jack DeJohnette (d-3) David Lee (d-4) Arthur Jenkins, Jr. (cga-5,perc-5)
New York, July 14, 1972

EI: Were you ever really in the Sonny Rollins band?

GC: Not really. I did some gigs with him, like the one in ‘69, the first time in California, from April 15th to August 15th, two weeks in LA at Shelly’s Manhole, and two at the Workshop, and we were doing three sets. Especially, I know at the Workshop, we’d play some songs like “Three Little Words” on each set, but every time in a different key.  “Skylark”: at the first rehearsal, it was like, “Ok, Eb.” Second rehearsal it was “Ok, Bb.” And the next time was the date for the record, and it was “Ok, Bb,” but he put the horn in his mouth and it came out in G! [laughs] So that was it. And Bob Cranshaw’s over there, just smiling, laughing.

Because you know, with Bob, none of that matters. I remember one time I was playing with Bob, and I did a mental snooze on “All the Things You Are.” We were playing trio with him and Eddie Moore, and somehow, one of those things, I just went to the wrong key, so I think at first when it goes to C and then G, but I realized I just went to the wrong key, but then I realized Bob was there too! He didn’t miss a beat! I looked at him, and he was just playing with me.

Art Blakey : Child’s Dance : Woody Shaw (tp) George Cables (p,el-p) Stanley Clarke (b) Art Blakey (d) Ramon Morris (ts) Ray Mantilla (cga) Manny Boyd (fl)
New York, July 28, 1972

GC: Ramon Morris took one of my songs. He recorded “Virginia” and credited it to him. He told me that it happened, we were working for Art Blakey at that time. He said, “Well, the producer’s put my name on it, and there’s nothing I could do about it.” So we had words about that, but I never heard the record. And then for some reason I was searching for it, I was trying to get my catalogue together, and I saw it, and apparently that record did quite well, so it put up a little wound for me. I don’t know how I’d find it now, and I don’t know how successful that would be at this point…

EI: That’s actually a new name for me, Ramon Morris, I’ll have to check it out: sorry for the thievery! And then Song of Songs, a wild record.

Woody Shaw: Song Of Songs : Woody Shaw (tp) Emanuel “Manny” Boyd (fl,ts) Ramon Morris (ts-1) Bennie Maupin (ts-2) George Cables (p,el-p) Nyimbo Henry Franklin (b) Sonship “Woody” Theus (d,perc)
Los Angeles, September 15 & 18, 1972

GC: Ah, Woody. Is that the one… Who’s on that?

EI: Sonship Woody Theus, among others.

GC: Ah yes, Sonship. Let me tell the story about that. Back then, Contemporary Records had a storehouse that doubled as a recording studio, or a studio that doubled as a storage place. So we were there, we’re getting all this stuff together, we’re waiting on the drummer.

Sonship wasn’t there! So we called another drummer, Bill Henderson, who was really a pianist. But then Sonship finally shows up. We were in LA, and he had his wool cap on, and I don’t know if he was having kidney problems then, maybe he was in dialysis then, maybe he didn’t want dialysis. But anyway, he came to set up his drums, and took his time and everything, and then he put these two mannequin heads on either side of the bass drum. After that, he pulled had this pink mask — like the Lone Ranger mask but pink — over his face, and said, “Ok, I’m ready.” [laughs]

EI: [Laughs]

GC: I didn’t know what to think! But he was a great player, he played his ass off. He was serious about whatever he had, his concept.

Billy Harper : Capra Black : Jimmy Owens (tp) Dick Griffin (tb-2) Julian Priester (tb) Billy Harper (ts,voice) George Cables (p) Reggie Workman (b) Elvin Jones (d-1) Billy Cobham (d-2) Warren Smith (d)Barbara Grant, Laveda Johnson, Gene McDaniels, Pat Robinson (voices)
New York, 1973

GC: We are still playing some these Harper songs with the Cookers. Oh, Elvin, wasn’t Elvin on this record?

EI: For one tune, yeah.

GC: Yeah, I think for “Capra Black.”  Bill Cobham, Warren Smith, golly! Reggie Workman…

EI: Must have been a thrill to play with Elvin.

GC: Oh yeah, yeah. I mean I got to play with Elvin a few times…

EI: Yeah, there’s more coming up with Art Pepper.

Here’s some obscure Japanese stuff.

Teruo Nakamura : Unicorn : Charles Sullivan (tp-1) Steve Grossman (sop,ts) George Cables (el-p) John Miller (p-1) Teruo Nakamura (b,el-b) Lenny White (d) Alvern Bunn (cga) Keiji Kishida (perc)
New York, May 18 & June 8, 1973

GC: Teruo Nakamura, a bassist who used to live in New York, but I think he since moved over to Japan, played and produced.

EI: Charles Sullivan, a great trumpet player. Not as well known.

GC: Yeah. We’re both Scorpios, he and I, and he’s a Queens guy too.

EI: Charles Sullivan?

GC: Yeah.

[Sings] “Keep your soul togetherrr!”

Freddie Hubbard : Keep Your Soul Together : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn) Junior Cook (ts) George Cables (el-p) Aurell Ray (g) Kent Brinkley (b) or Ron Carter (el-b) Ralph Penland (d) Juno Lewis (dahka-doom,dahka-de-bello)
New York, October, 1973

GC: I worked with Freddie first, before Keith Jarrett. They did Sky Dive with Keith but I think Freddie wanted his guys. Creed preferred to do it with who he wanted to do it with. And then Sky Dive became a great hit.

Keep Your Soul Together was for Creed, that was… I don’t know how that did, but that was a very good record. “Spirits of Trane” turned out to be good, “Destiny’s Children.”

Harold Alexander, he was living in LA then.

Harold Alexander : Raw Root : Harold Alexander, Richard Clay (fl) George Cables (p) Dennis Heaven (el-b) Lenny White (d) Tequila (vcl)
New York, 1974

GC: Tequila, vocals. I think she used to be with Tony Williams.

Polar AC : Freddie Hubbard (tp) Hubert Laws (fl) George Cables (p-1) George Benson (g) Ron Carter (b) Lenny White (d-1) Airto Moreira (perc) Max Ellen, Paul Gershman, Emanuel “Manny” Green,Theodore Israel, Charles Libove, Harry Lookofsky, Joe Malin, David Nadien, Gene Orloff, George Ricci, Tony Sophos, Manny Vardi (strings) Bob James (arr)
New York, 1974

GC: Oh yeah. That was the first recordings of “Ebony Moonbeams” and “Camel Rise.”

EI: Nice to get your tunes recorded on a blazing Freddie Hubbard record with all these guys, right?

GC: Is Christlieb on that?

EI: Yep.

GC: Ernie Watts. I don’t think they took any solos, but…anyway, I got to be on “Son of Sky Dive.”

EI: Here’s a live date, and interesting quintet here, Freddie, Junior Cook, you, Reggie Workman, and Jack DeJohnette.

Freddie Hubbard Quintet Concert (Carnegie Hall, New York, NY Jul 5, 1974) : Freddie Hubbard (tp) Junior Cook (ts) George Cables (el-p) Reggie Workman (b) Jack DeJohnette (d)
Live “Carnegie Hall”, New York, July 5, 1974

GC: Wow. Is that a bootleg?

EI: Yeah, this thing called Wolfgang’s Vault, I don’t know much about it.

GC: I’ve seen that a few times.

EI: They’ve been putting some stuff out, I don’t know if the musicians are getting paid or not.

Gleam is a Freddie Hubbard record in Japan.

Gleam : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn) Carl Randall (ts,fl) George Cables (p) Nyimbo Henry Franklin (b) Carl Burnett (d) Buck Clarke (perc)
Concert “Yubinchokin Hall”, Tokyo, Japan, March 17, 1975

GC: Oh yeah, there’s a boot on the front with smoke coming out of the toe! [Laughs]. [Sings] “Put it in Your Pocket.”  Freddie would sing some words to things, you know. “Ebony Moonbeams.” Actually, I wrote that for Freddie, “Ebony Moonbeams.” I got the title, I think from a radio announcer in DC, he used to say something about ebony moonbeams, and I thought, man that’s a great phrase. And when I wrote that I thought about a trip, I visualized a trip, a boat trip, like a cruise, in the Caribbean, right down the coast of South America, so you can hear that [sings melody]. But I heard a brass choir doing that, and I heard a foghorn starting it off, you know. [Sings melody] Then the boat’s kind of sliding along. I was think of 5/4 that didn’t sound like 5, and then moving it somewhere else that didn’t sound like it. I was thinking, oh that’s 5, then it’s 4.

EI: It seems like you’ve been composing as long as you’ve been playing jazz.

GC: Well, that’s been part of it. The first song I wrote was with the Samaritans, called “Happiness.” [laughs]

EI: That’s very optimistic!

GC: Yeah, that was my personality. Sort of like “Confirmation” changes, the first 8. And something called “Face the Consequences.” “The Bad Man” I don’t remember, “Face the Consequences” I still do. The only real ballad… Well I guess I have others, but the only one that is an actual ballad ballad is “One for My Love.” And then those were four I wrote, and then we started to do more that I recorded later on, that I recorded later on a record called Shared Secrets, I kind of modified it, called “SFCB” which stood for “straight from Cables’ basement.”

EI: Another Freddie Hubbard project, and then a Gary Bartz record, Music is My Sanctuary.

Liquid Love : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn,vcl,arr) Al Hall (tb) Carl Randall (ts,fl) George Cables (el-p,string-synt,clavinet,arr) Ian Underwood (synt) Ray Parker, Jr. (lead-g) Johnny “Guitar” Watson (g-1) Nyimbo Henry Franklin (b,el-b) Chuck Rainey (el-b-1) Spider Webb (d-1) Carl Burnett (d) Mailto Correa (perc) Buck Clarke (cga,cowbell) Mike Levy, Maurice Green (vcl)
Los Angeles, March 18 – April 16, 1975

Gary Bartz : Music Is My Sanctuary : Eddie Henderson, Ray Brown (tp) Gary Bartz (as,sop,p,el-p,synt,vcl) Larry Mizell (keyboards) George Cables (p) David T. Walker, Wah Wah Watson, John Rowin,Juewett Bostick (g) Curtis Robertson, Jr., Welton Gite (b) Nat Neblett, James Gadson, Howard King (d) Mtume, Bill Summers (perc) Syreeta Wright, Sigidi, Gary Bartz, Larry Mizell (vcl) above 3 (vcl) are background vcl , coll. pers.
Hollywood, CA, 1975

GC: Ah, Sanctuary. We did “Sweet Thing” on there. Is that where we did [sings] “Oo Baby Baby?” [speaking] Ah, yes, we did. I liked that.

One thing I love about Gary, he would reach in all directions. I really appreciated that. He would incorporate Langston Hughes, or something, and then ballads, you’d get some of the ones, “Lost in the Stars.” some of the obscure ones, or he would go back to “Smokey,” you know. I really appreciate him. He’ll play the blues, anything. Gary is one with a broad spectrum, I really appreciate him.

We were playing once, and someone came in, we were playing in New York, it was one of those three alto gigs, wherever it was, and Gary’s solo came, and Gary started playing, and was just on fire. And afterward, a friend of a friend from California who plays alto was visiting, and he said “Damn, Gary Bartz is just incendiary!”

And I thought that was great. There are some people that say, “Miles Davis, prince of darkness,” or “When I listen to Trane, it’s like getting the word straight from God.” And “incendiary” I thought really nailed Gary, because when he plays, he could start and you know, be very deliberate about what he does, and he has a lot of stuff under his belt, but somehow, someway, everything is on fire, I think incendiary is a great description of Gary Bartz.

EI: The next one is your first record! Why Not.

Why Not : George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Los Angeles, October 7, 1975

GC: “Ebony Moonbeams”, “Rita” part one and two, “Dark Side, Light Side”, “Yuh’s Blues”. I named it for Yuh because we played a blues section, that was the solo section at the time, and Yuh Masahiko was the producer, and he started his own label, he called it Whynot, and the record was Why Not, and the tune was called “Why Not?” so I figured he deserved a song named after him. [Laughs]

EI: Well this might be a good time to stop and talk about LA for a bit, because you would have moved there by now, right?

GC: Yeah, I was in LA from 1971 to ’83. Yeah, I kind of liked it, I could drive around. In New York I never had a driver’s license, so I was like “Oh boy.” The streets were bigger, there were palm trees, it didn’t snow…

EI: [laughs]

GC: And I could get on a plane any time, you know. So in ’75 I was working with Hub, started in ’71 or ’72. ’71 I think. I’d been working with Joe Henderson ’70 to ’71, but I left the band for California. At first I used to watch TV, I was in love with San Francisco and I used to watch “Ironsides” just to see San Francisco.

EI: Really…

GC: And I said “Well, if you like it so much, you could just move out there…” That was at the time when New York’s jazz scene was a little depressed, and New York was getting depressed, people getting held up on the street in broad daylight. I was living in the East Village at the time, so I said “The hell with this,” and moved to California. I was going to move to San Francisco, but it made sense to move to LA because there were more guys, more people playing. Also, I was infatuated with this lady from LA.

EI: Ah ha! The real reason! You said all this other stuff! [Laughs]

GC: That was a major reason. We later got married, that was Rita. Later divorced.

EI: Tony Dumas and Carl Burnett, to me this is like the classic LA jazz of the 70s, right here, very high level cats.

GC: Well yeah, I mean Carl Burnett played with a lot of energy, so it wasn’t a typical LA stuff.

EI: No, no, it’s just great playing. I have that record, it was hard to find for a while but now you can get that Whynot stuff on CD.

Windjammer : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn) Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm, Bernie Glow, Lew Soloff (tp) Wayne Andre (tb) David Taylor, Alan Raph (b-tb) Hubert Laws (fl) George Marge (oboe,alto-fl,eng-hrn) Wally Kane (bassoon,fl) Phil Bodner (alto-fl) Michael Brecker (ts) Bob James (p,clavinet,synt) George Cables (el-p-1,clavinet-2) Steve Khan (g-3) Richie Resnicoff (g-4) David Spinozza (g-5) Eric Gale (g-6) Jerry Friedman (g-7) Gary King (b) Steve Gadd (d-8) Andy Newmark (d-9) Chris Parker (d-10) Ralph MacDonald (perc) Ray Mantilla (perc-11) Max Ellen, David Nadien, Emanuel “Manny” Green, Harry Cykman, Charles Libove, Harry Lookofsky, Max Pollikoff, Paul Gershman, Matthew Raimondi, Richard Sortomme (vln) Alfred Brown, Emanuel Vardi (viola) Charles McCracken, Jesse Levy (cello) Patti Austin, Vivian Cherry, Gwen Guthrie, Zack Sanders, Frank Floyd (vcl)
New York, 1976

GC: That was more… Who produced that?

EI: It’s a Columbia record.

GC: What’s his name? Bob James?

EI: Could be, I don’t know. But another cast of thousands. I mean, look at the horn section on this, Jon Faddis, Marvin Stamm, Bernie Glow, Hubert Laws, Michael Brecker…I see Bob James was playing.

GC: I’m only on a few tracks, so I think it was a Bob James production.

EI: Then, it’s your record with Bobby Hutcherson, because he must have been out in California then as well.

Bobby Hutcherson : Waiting : Emanuel “Manny” Boyd (sop,ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib,marimba) George Cables (p) James Leary (b) Eddie Marshall (d) Kenneth Nash (perc)
San Francisco, CA, February, 1976

GC: Oh yeah, Eddie Marshall, what songs were they? It was on Blue Note, so I guess I am a Blue Note artist! [laughs]

I’m not on the cover of Waiting, because they all lived out in San Francisco. We did the record, then I went to LA, and they shot the cover for the record! [Laughs] They were all waiting at a bus stop, and a matter of fact, it looked like it was in LA. It was probably in Oakland or something.

There’s a lot of James Leary pieces on it. “Hangin’ Out With You,” “Prime Thought,” “Waiting.”

Bobby was living out in San Francisco, and sometimes he would come to LA, come by my house and come in and I’d be sleeping, he’d come and wake me up, shake me, say, “Hey George, you got any tunes?”[Laughs]

Just rock me, I’d say, “Ugh, let me see…”

EI: And here’s the first record with Art Pepper.

GC: Oh, The Trip.

The Trip : Art Pepper (as) George Cables (p) David Williams (b) Elvin Jones (d)
Los Angeles, September 15 & 16, 1976

GC: That was a great time, because I really got to play with Elvin, the whole record. I was so excited to play, on top of the beat, you know. But no way! It’s like somebody grabbed my neck and said “Slow down, buddy! Come back, relax!” That was another lesson.

EI: Interesting.

GC: It was all out of control, but he held me, pulled me back. David Williams, that was nice, I enjoyed that. Now did we do that in the Contemporary studio, or did we do that in another studio?

EI: It just says LA, so I’m not sure. What was Elvin like to be around?

GC: It was easy. I don’t remember, you know, but it was so easy. Everybody I used to work with was so easy.

EI: That wasn’t Art Pepper’s rep, though…

GC: Well, Art later, no, but we got along well. Every now and then there would be some funny stuff, every now and then he might get mad at me, but not very often. We had a great relationship. And then when we did a date in New York, that was easy because then it was easy to relate with him and Elvin, and kind of hang.

It was Les Koeing that got us together. He thought we would work well.

But as you said, that’s not Art’s reputation. He could be difficult, because he was eccentric. He could have a paranoia about dumb stuff like who likes him, who’s talking about him behind his back…In a way he was a perfectionist. He wanted this, he wanted that, and he was very nervous, so that was part of it. We had a good time, a good relationship. We could talk, and hang, and he was unabashed about his history and stuff.

EI: He wrote a whole book about it, with all sorts of drugs and sex in it, it’s amazing. It’s a good book, actually.

We got another Gary Bartz record, which looks like a funky project.

Love Song : Gary Bartz (as,sop,vcl) George Cables (keyboards) Carl McDaniels (g) Curtis Robertson, Jr. (e-b) Howard King (d) Rita Greene (vcl) and vcl trio : [ Clydie King, Shirley Matthews,Billy Thedford (vcl) ]
Hollywood, CA, 1977

GC: “Just Suppose,” that’s my song. I heard it again somewhere, and it didn’t really work that well, with what we were trying to do with it. But he did “Love Song,” that’s another of mine.

We were both living in LA at that time. I had a group that I was trying to call Cable Car and Gary was a part of that. We’ve had a long association, because when I was in New York before, we, Gary and Woody and I used to hang out quite a bit together.

EI: I feel like Gary came up with Albert Dailey.

GC: Probably. All these guys are my seniors, right? Woody Shaw was a couple months younger than me, but Gary was my senior. I just kind of learned from these guys, I was happy to be around, hanging out. Be fortunate to get involved with this. I didn’t know Albert Dailey, I didn’t see him that much, he wasn’t on the scene when we were in LA. And I don’t know, was he still here, had he passed then?

EI: No, I think he was still around. He’s just someone I always like hearing when I hear him.

GC: He was a real strong pianist, he used to play with Freddie. Wasn’t he on that record where they played that one tune [sings a Freddie head]. Freddie was a great writer! Very underestimated. People don’t give him enough credit as a composer.

Eddie Henderson : Comin’ Through : Eddie Henderson (tp,flhrn) Patrice Rushen, George Cables, Charles Mims, Mtume (keyboards) Lee Ritenour, Al McKay (g) Julian Priester (tb) Emanuel “Manny” Boyd, Connie Henderson (fl) Howard King (d) Skip Drinkwater (perc) Dianne Reeves (vcl)
Hollywood, 1977

GC: Comin’ Through, yeah. As a matter of fact I wrote “Morning Song” at Eddie Henderson’s house. It was like 5 o’clock in the morning, sun’s coming up over the piano. So he got it first. He did that, and he did “Beyond Forever” which is another one of my pieces.

Bobby Hutcherson : Knucklebean : Freddie Hubbard (tp) Emanuel “Manny” Boyd (fl,sop,ts) Hadley Caliman (fl,ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib,marimba) George Cables (p,el-p) James Leary (b) Eddie Marshall (d)
San Francisco, CA, March 1, 1977

GC: Oh, “Sundance Knows”. Oh yeah, with Manny Boyd. Knucklebean, he did “Why Not?” on there, and another “’Til Then.”

EI: And then we have Art Pepper, No Limit with your mates Tony Dumas and Carl Burnett.

No Limit : Art Pepper (as-1,ts-2) George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Los Angeles, March 26, 1977

EI: And David Fathead Newman.

Keep The Dream Alive : David “Fathead” Newman (fl,as,ts) George Cables, Hilton Ruiz (clavinet,el-p,p) George Davis, Lee Ritenour (g) Wilbur “Dud” Bascomb, Jr. (el-b) Idris Muhammad (d) Bill Summers (perc,cga) + horns & voices William Fischer (arr)
Berkeley, CA, May, 1977

GC: We did that up at Fantasy Studios.

EI: With some voices?

GC: Nah, the voices weren’t there when we were there.

EI: Ah, sure.

GC: Dance of the Sun was that Eddie?

Dance Of The Sun : Eddie Marshall Quintet Feat. Bobby Hutcherson : Emanuel “Manny” Boyd (ts,sop) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) James Leary (b) Eddie Marshall (d,perc)
San Francisco, CA, May 1, 2 & 4, 1977

GC: Eddie was a great drummer and a great person. I think his father had something to do with inventing the high-hat. Or how it’s used. “The Stroll” is a Bobby Hutcherson piece that’s really nice, it just goes down chromatically. Later on, I recorded it as a duet with Bobby on Cables’ Vision.

EI: Here’s your first record with Dexter Gordon.

Sophisticated Giant : Woody Shaw, Benny Bailey (tp,flhrn) Slide Hampton (tb,arr) Wayne Andre (tb) Frank Wess (as,fl,pic) Dexter Gordon (ts,sop) Howard Johnson (tu,bar-1) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Victor Lewis (d)
New York, June 21 & 22, 1977

GC: Sophisticated Giant!

EI: Big band, with Rufus and Victor Lewis.

GC: Yeah, I don’t know what to say about all this, we’ve been talking about all these records, but damn! This was a fun date. Slide Hampton did the arrangements. “You’re Blasé,” [sings melody] “Red Top” [sings melody].

EI: You go on to play with Dexter so much, too.

GC: I went on to play with Dexter, only for two years or so, actually.

EI: Oh, that’s all?

GC: But we played a lot. Like a lot, not a long time but often.

EI: Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe that both Art Pepper and Dexter Gordon, while from an older generation, both tried to play some of the modern harmonic movements in the 70s.

GC: Yeah. Well, Dex played “Body and Soul” with some Coltrane changes, and sometimes he’d ask me about certain intervals [sings a Woody Shaw-type line with fourths] but he had his thing, he wasn’t abandoning his style or anything. And Art had his thing too, but maybe he wanted to play a little further out, or play with a little more energy, or play soulful.

But one thing Art would never change was playing ballads. He loved ballads: you play slow, don’t double the ballad. He was adamant about that.  I remember one time Tony Dumas played a passing note and got yelled at, “Don’t you ever play that shit again! Don’t double up!” It’s like, “Damn, man I just played a passing note…”

EI: Jeez…

GC: It makes sense really: We played a bounce the last song, and then this, and after that we bounce again, so what’s the difference if you don’t play a ballad on a ballad?

Dexter never abandoned his way of playing, but he was into 5/4, he’s into doing something with phrasing, and he wasn’t afraid to ask you, “Hey man, what was that you were playing?” He wasn’t afraid to do that, although basically, he did stay basically in his thing, it wasn’t like he really changed up, why should he? But he wasn’t afraid to be in that setting.

EI: And then Roy Haynes.

GC: Thank You, Thank You.

Roy Haynes: Thank You, Thank You : John Klemmer (ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (el-p) Ron Carter (b) Roy Haynes (d) Peter Engelhardt (tuned bells)
Berkeley, July 16, 18 & 20, 1977

GC: It was an honor for me, he named a record after one of my songs, you know., McBee, so they must have done “Quiet Fire” on this too. That’s a good recording of “Quiet Fire.”

Roy Haynes is one of my favorite drummers ever. He played the hell of the funk of “Thank You, Thank You” He’s one of the few guys, I can’t think of any other guys, who plays his thing on a funk song and it’s funky, because the way he plays is like a common denominator, he gets that thing. That’s one reason Chick and Miroslav could match so well, because he could play really modern. And I think the way he played lent himself to modern music.

EI: And Vistalite as well. The CD reissue of both of these is actually called “Quiet Fire.”

Roy Haynes: Vistalite : George Cables (el-p,p-1) Stanley Cowell (el-p-2) Milcho Leviev (el-p-3) Marcus Fiorillo (g) Cecil McBee (b) Roy Haynes (d) Kenneth Nash (perc)
Berkeley, July 20, 1977

EI: And then you’re at the Village Vanguard with a great band. This a really good listen, I love this stuff. Larry Grenadier was telling me he learned a lot from these recordings, too.

Art Pepper (as,ts-1,cl-2) George Cables (p) George Mraz (b) Elvin Jones (d)
Live “Village Vanguard”, New York, July, 1977

GC: Oh, yeah, this one was fun. This came out in Japan and became album of the year, but it was released as a box, not one at a time like here, dribs and drabs. And again, Lester Koenig was the guy.

I had put a glass of orange juice on the Vanguard piano, and I get the rap for knocking the juice in the piano, but I didn’t!  They were getting ready for the recording and one of the engineers knocked it in. Now, I’ll take the blame, because I put it on the piano, but I didn’t knock it in!

EI: [Laughs]

GC: So I may be responsible for the new piano, so it may have been a good thing!

EI: George Mraz and Elvin, that’s a good rhythm section.

GC: Oh yeah. George wasn’t the first bassist, there was another bassist, but Art wasn’t happy, so George came in. George came in on the first day of recording, as I remember. Ate it up.

EI: There’s so many tunes here from the Vanguard, I think eventually almost every song from the week got released…

We got some more Art Pepper, and some Bobby Hutcherson.

Art Pepper: San Francisco Samba : Art Pepper (as) George Cables (p) Michael Formanek (b) Eddie Marshall (d)
Live, “Keystone Korner”, San Francisco, CA, August 6 & 8, 1977

Bobby Hutcherson : Blue Note Meets The L.A. Philharmonic : Emanuel “Manny” Boyd (sop,ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) James Leary (b) Eddie Marshall (d) Bobbye Porter Hall (perc) + Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Dale Oehler (arr)
Live “Hollywood Bowl”, Los Angeles, August 13, 1977

GC: Hollywood Bowl, Oh, this was interesting. The conductor wasn’t that familiar with the music, but that was a nice thing. But I got to play with the LA Philiharmonic, wow!

Who conducted? Calvin something. Dale Oehler did the arrangements. Joe Chambers was there too. It’s all music from a Bobby Hutcherson record.

EI: I don’t know this at all. I sort of assumed it wouldn’t be so interesting, with the orchestra in there, but you think it was interesting?

GC: Well, it was at the time, and we had to cue the conductor, because he didn’t have time to look at the music. Is there a James Leary piece in there? Carmen McRae was on the concert. It was a great evening at the Hollywood Bowl.

EI: A lot of people there until the LA sky, I imagine.

So here we are in late ’77, and this famous great quartet with Dexter and Rufus and Eddie Gladden.

Night Ballads : Dexter Gordon Quartet : Dexter Gordon (ts) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d)
Live “The Rising Sun”, Montreal, PQ, Canada, November 9, 1977

GC: Yeah!

EI: Now what was Eddie Gladden’s story, where was he from?

GC: He was from Newark, and I don’t think he left there a lot, but boy, could he play! I think at first Billy Hart played a gig or something, then Victor Lewis played, but Victor I think was playing with Woody. I don’t know who sent Eddie Gladden, maybe it was Woody because they were both from Newark, but man, when Eddie Gladden came, he lit a fire under that rhythm section, that was it.

Because there were different personalities. Rufus would play up on top sometimes, he’d play all over the bass, you know. And I think everybody had their role, but we all fit somehow. We all got in there and fit. And Eddie was a key guy. But everyone was key in that, everyone filled a role, and did stuff that to me was really amazing. And then Rufus started some stuff, he’d stop playing, it’s a ballad and it becomes solo piano. I decide to play and Rufus stops, and then Eddie stops, and then it’s solo piano. So I said, well I’m just going to play some stuff, so I’d play in, out of time, and then brought the time back in. And Dex was probably like “What the hell are they doing? What the hell’s going on now?”

But Dexter was really good that way, he would really encourage and allow you space to do your thing. So we did that once, and then we did it the next time, and that became a part of the deal. So Dexter was instrumental in doing it, letting me play a little more solo piano. Because I was afraid of playing solo piano in those days, you know. Because as I said, I’m thinking about being a part of the rhythm section, not solo piano. But little by little, I got more joy out of it. Even when I’m playing solo piano at home, I’m thinking about playing with the band, but now I just get a lot of joy out of playing piano, you know, not playing this style, that style, having to play solo piano. Just playing the piano, not missing anybody, I’m just going to play the piano.

EI: Right, beautiful.

GC: That’s the way I think about it, and Dexter had a good part in that.

EI: Did you discuss music with Dexter at all?

GC: Yeah, we talked about history, about music history. You know, sometimes, one time, it wasn’t history, but I screwed something up, the introduction to “The Christmas Song.”  He said, “Man, how come you play the hard stuff, and you screw up the easy stuff? “ [Laughs] Well I don’t know how to answer that! [Laughs]

We used to talk history, talking about the territory bands, the Basie band.  In fact, he introduced me to Count Basie! I got to meet Basie, he said “Hey it’s my piano player, what do you think, man?”

But we would talk about “Moten Swing,” which I was unfamiliar with, the Moten band, which actually became the Basie band, after it was Moten it was Walter Page, and then Basie. So you know, stuff like that. I’d love to talk about Art Tatum, talk about his experiences with Art Tatum, about how guys, saxophonists would sit in. “But he wouldn’t let ME sit in!”

When he did that, he looked like he was 19, his eyes lit up, he was so excited. And I got to sit and talk with him about the old days. I’d hang with Dexter, I loved Dex. I loved playing with Dexter, and I think he’s had a profound influence on me as a musician, as a soloist, on my concept, as a pianist, how to play, how to speak with the piano in terms of swinging and playing in tempo. Also in ballads, talking about the words, how important they are. And even though I’ve heard that before, somehow with Dex it became clearer. Of course, part of it was how he’d recite the first 8 bars.

Lester Young was his guy, and Dex would Lester’s stint in the army, how that hurt him in many ways because there were other guys playing, and then when he came out, doing his thing, the other guys would start doing it.

EI: You know Lester said about Stan Getz, right? “Stan Getz the money.”

GC: [Laughs] Yeah. Well, Lester was Stan’s guy, that’s where he came from. [Laughs] And Dexter, too.

I’m looking at this Philly Joe date up here.

Philly Joe Jones: Philly Mignon : Nat Adderley (cnt-1) Dexter Gordon (ts-2) Ira Sullivan (ts-3,sop-4) George Cables (p-3) Ron Carter (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
Berkeley, CA, November 29-30 & December 1, 1977

EI: I have this record.

GC: I have it, Philly Mignon. And I don’t know if it was ever a CD, but I have the record somewhere. This is the only record I ever did where somebody came and sat in on the record, and that was Dexter Gordon! [Laughs] And he played “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”! We came to the studio, and here comes Dexter, walking with his big grin on his face.

I had so many thrills. I used to think about working with Dexter: If I died today, I couldn’t have any complaints. I mean, I worked with Art Blakey, Philly Joe, Max Roach, and this one, this date was later, after I had worked with Philly in 1970 and I had worked with Freddie and Joe, Bobby Hutcherson, these people are the people who have changed the direction of the music, you know, and I’ve been a part of that, of their bands. I’ve been a part of making music with them. What the hell more can you ask for? I mean, up till this, it’s still in the 70s!

EI: Yeah, man, we’re moving along, but quickly talk about Philly Joe.

GC: Yeah, well, Philly Joe was a great drummer for pianists, because he knew how to play, but he wouldn’t overplay, but play with intensity and he played on top of the beat, he liked people who played on top, and I loved playing with him, he was very open. He was very warm.

Oh, I’ll tell you something. This was 1970, and I came back from this tour, I got stranded out West because of some club that didn’t pay us what we needed. But anyway, I came back, I had heard all of these stories about Philly Joe, and the first call I get is “Philly Joe wants you to work with him!”

I said, “Oh boy…” but how do you say no to Philly Joe Jones? So we played Slugs, and we played “Dear Old Stockholm,” but I screwed it up. [sings part of the head] and after the gig, he said “George, come here.” And he sits down at the piano, and says, “Now George, ‘Dear Old Stockholm’ goes like this,” and he plays it while he’s looking at me, and I’m looking at the piano. [Sings head] So you know, I’m like, “Oh shit, I’ve got to really be on my game here!”

And over the years we really got closer, I mean, we didn’t spend a lot of time together, but we had a really great relationship, and he asked me to be on his record. What could be better than that? And I remember, Ira was saying, “Man, the piano player is doing something…” Something he didn’t like, you know, and Ron came up and said, “Hey man, he’s playing the right stuff!” [Laughs]

[At this point, we started going quite quickly through everything else. Only the interesting commentary is kept in this transcription.]

Kazumi Watanabe : Lonesome Cat : George Cables (p,el-p) Kazumi Watanabe (g) Alex Blake (el-b) Cecil McBee (b-1) Lenny White (d)
New York, December 14, 1977

Love Affair : Gary Bartz (as,sop,synt,vcl) George Cables (p) Dorothy Ashby (harp) Bill Summers (perc)
c. 1978

Dexter Gordon Quartet : Dexter Gordon (ts) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d) Thad Jones (cnt-3)
Copenhagen, Denmark, March 5, 1978

Great Encounters : Dexter Gordon Quartet : Dexter Gordon (ts) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d)
New York, May 1, 1978

Manhattan Symphonie  Dexter Gordon (ts) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d)
New York, May, 1978
Nights At The Keystone : Dexter Gordon (ts) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d)
Live “Keystone Korner”, San Francisco, CA, May 13, 1978

GC: Um hmm…and there’s that Bobby record with a few of my pieces.

Bobby Hutcherson
Highway One : Hubert Laws (fl) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (el-p) James Leary, Van Zalinge (b) Eddie Marshall (d) Kenneth Nash (perc)
San Francisco, May 30 to June 23, 1978

EI: Oh yeah?

GC: Lemme see… “Highway One,” “Sweet Rita Suite, part 2: Her soul,” “Secrets of Love,” That was not a bad time to be recorded, because you got paid pretty well, CBS, you know. Checks were coming in, you were getting paid. “Circle,” that’s another one of mine. So what did we do? We did four of my songs on here, there were six on the record.

With the records, you do forty minutes, twenty on each side, but when CDs came in, it was like doing a record and a half! Or more! [Laughs]

EI: Carnegie Hall here, you’re playing with Dexter and Johnny Griffin and Eddie Jefferson.

Dexter Gordon (ts) Johnny Griffin (ts-1) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d) Eddie Jefferson (vcl)
Concert “Carnegie Hall”, New York, September 23, 1978

GC: Yeah, wow. I loved playing with Eddie too, I’d love it when he’d sing. [sings like Eddie Jefferson] “Moody’s Mood for Love..”

Ooh, “Tanya”! [impersonating Dexter Gordon] “The girl upstairs…”

A Gordon Cantata : Dexter Gordon (ts) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d)
Rome, Italy, October, 1978

Bobby Hutcherson
Conception : The Gift Of Love : Jon Faddis, Anthony Tooley, Danny Moore, Earl Gardner, Joe Wilder (tp) Urbie Green, Bob Alexander, John Gale (tb) Hubert Laws (fl) Romeo Penque, Lenny Hambro, Daniel Trimboli, Frank Wess (reeds) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) James Leary (b) Eddie Marshall (d) Kenneth Nash, Bill Summers (perc)
New York, March 15 & 16, 1979

George Cables :
Circle : Joe Farrell (fl-1) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Eddie Gladden (d)
Los Angeles, March 27 & 28, 1979

 Dexter Gordon  Live “Keystone Korner”, San Francisco, CA, March 27, 1979

GC: [Sings] “More than you know…” “Thank You Thank You!”

George Cables
Ernie Watts (ts) George Cables (el-p,clavinet) Tony Dumas (b) Peter Erskine (d)
Los Angeles, March 29, 1979

Un Poco Loco : Bobby Hutcherson (vib,mar) George Cables (p,el-p) John Abercrombie (g) Chuck Domanico (b,el-b) Peter Erskine (d)
Los Angeles, 1979

Art Pepper (as,cl-1) George Cables (p) Charlie Haden (b) Billy Higgins (d)
Burbank, CA, May 25 & 26, 1979

EI: Then you’re on a record with Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins, with Art Pepper.

GC: Yeah, yeah.

EI: Must have been amazing to play with Billy Higgins.

GC: I loved Billy Higgins. He didn’t know how not to swing. He was just great, I love Billy Higgins, he’d just play. And he was warm. It was just fun, easy to play with, easy to be with.

EI: What about Charlie Haden?

GC: I didn’t know Charlie that well, but you know, he had his thing. I think with Charlie it was a little different for me. I’ve always thought of him as a guy who really played great without a piano. Especially with the way that I think of the bass, I’m looking for what bass notes he’s gonna play. But he’s more of a melodic player in a lot of ways, and then he plays those double “boom boom” notes. I had to really adjust my thought for that.

EI: Right. Cedar expressed something about that too, about playing with Charlie, it’s a different style. [laughs]

GC: Right, right. [laughs]

Art Pepper (as,cl-1) George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (blitz-b) Billy Higgins (d)
Live “Shiba Yubin Chokin Hall”, Tokyo, Japan, July, 1979

Joe Farrell :
Sonic Text : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn) Joe Farrell (fl,sop,ts) George Cables (p,el-p) Tony Dumas (b,el-b) Peter Erskine (d)
Los Angeles, November 27 & 28, 1979

EI: Here’s Cables’ Vision, a soulful funky disc with powerful soloists.

 George Cables : Cables’ Vision : Freddie Hubbard (tp-1,flhrn-2) Ernie Watts (ts-3,sop-4,fl-10) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (el-p-5,p-6) Tony Dumas (b-7,el-b-8) Peter Erskine (d) Vince Charles (perc-9)
Hollywood, December 17, 18, & 19, 1979

GC:  “The Stroll” is just a duet with Bobby. I dedicated that to my mother. That was my first record in the United States and Freddie, he played his ass off on that, and had just had a root canal, the day before, his jaw was all puffy. Came out and on “Byrdlike,” he played that to death. “Morning Song,” “I Told You So,” “Voodoo Lady,” so most of that I wrote, and I had the good sense to use Freddie’s piece and Bobby’s piece on it.

EI: Here’s a High Note record, must be a live date.

 George Cables
Morning Song : Eddie Henderson (tp-1) George Cables (p) John Heard (b-1) Sherman Ferguson (d-1)
San Francisco, CA, 1980

GC: Oh yeah, this is a live date that came out recently. Joe Fields called me when I did my first transplant, a kidney transplant, he said, “I guess you haven’t been working forever, so I have some stuff here, if you let me put it out, I can send you a check.” I said, “Cool with me!” This is stuff from the Keystone Korner.

EI: I want to hear that actually, I don’t have that yet.

Charles Owens Plays The Music Of Harry Warren : Charles Owens New York Art Ensemble : Charles Owens (ts,sop,fl,alto-fl,arr) James Newton (fl) George Cables (p) Red Callender (b,tu)Ray Brown (b) Roy McCurdy (d)
Los Angeles, February 15, 1980

George Cables
Some Of My Favourite Things : George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) Billy Higgins (d)
Hollywood, February 18 & 19, 1980

Carl Burnett
Plays Richard Rodgers : Bob Summers (tp) Eddie Harris (as,ts) George Cables (p) John B. Williams (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Los Angeles, June 10, 1980

Freddie Hubbard
Mistral : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn) Phil Ranelin (tb) Art Pepper (as) George Cables (p,el-p) Peter Wolf (synt) Roland Bautista (g) Stanley Clarke (b,el-b) Peter Erskine (d) Paulinho da Costa (perc)
Hollywood, September 15, 17, 18 & 19, 1980

Art Pepper
Sankei Hall – Osaka, Japan, November 18, 1980 (Unreleased Art Pepper Vol. VII) : Art Pepper (as,cl) George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Live “Sankei Hall”, Osaka, Japan, November 18, 1980

James Leary
Legacy : Tim Acosta, Fred Berry, Cal Lewiston, Zane Woodworth (tp,flhrn) Fred Mergy, Gordon Messick, John Russell, Nic Ten Broak (tb) Steve Keller, Charlie McCarthy, Da’ud David Johnson,Tod Dickow, Ray Loeckle (reeds) Joe Henderson (ts) George Cables (p) James Leary (b) Eddie Marshall (d) Kenneth Nash (perc)
San Francisco, c. 1981

EI: You’re on this, check that out!

GC: L. Subramaniam!

EI: You’ve been everywhere, man, you’re on everything!

L. Subramaniam
Emil Richards (vib) George Cables (p) Ronnie Foster (synt) Larry Coryell (g) L. Subramaniam (vln,el-vln) Roscoe Beck (b) Ricky Lawson (d)
Culver City & Venice, CA, 1981

GC: [laughs] This one’s more straight ahead. Ashley Alexander had something to do with this and Richie Cole. Was this a Richie Cole production? I don’t know.

  Freddie Hubbard
Back To Birdland : Freddie Hubbard (tp,flhrn) Ashley Alexander (double-tb) Richie Cole (as) Med Flory (ts) George Cables (p) Andy Simpkins (b) John Dentz (d)
Los Angeles, January 19 & 20, 1981

EI: It doesn’t look like a Freddie Hubbard Production…

GC: “For B.P.” is on there though [sings melody]. Not an easy piece.

George Cables
Whisper Not : George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) Peter Erskine (d)
Hollywood, CA, February 13 & 14, 1981

Art Pepper
Pescara Jazz (1969-1989) : Art Pepper Quartet : Art Pepper (as) George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Live, Stadio Adriatico, Pescara, Italy, July 12, 1981

Art Pepper (as) George Cables (p) David Williams (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Live “Maiden Voyage”, Los Angeles, August, 1981

Harold Land
Xocia’s Dance (Sue-sha’s Dance) : Oscar Brashear (tp,flhrn) Harold Land (ts) Bobby Hutcherson (vib-1) George Cables (p) John Heard (b) Billy Higgins (d) Ray Armando (perc)
Los Angeles, CA, October 22, 1981

Art Pepper
Live In Far North Japan : Art Pepper (as) George Cables (p) David Williams (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Concert “Abashiri-Shimin-Kaikan”, Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan, November 22, 1981

George Cables
Old Wine, New Bottle : George Cables (p) David Williams (b) Carl Burnett (d)
Hollywood, CA, January 11 & 12, 1982

George Cables
Darn That Dream : George Cables/Art Pepper/Joe Farrell : Art Pepper (as) Joe Farrell (ts) George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) John Dentz (d)
Hollywood, CA, March 23, 1982

Joe Farrell
Someday : Joe Farrell (ts) George Cables (p) Tony Dumas (b) John Dentz (d)
Hollywood, Ca., March 23, 1982

EI: There’s a famous pair of duo records with Art Pepper.

Tete-a-Tete : Art Pepper/George Cables : Art Pepper (as,cl-1) George Cables (p)
Berkeley, CA, April 13 & 14, 1982

Goin’ Home : Art Pepper/George Cables : Art Pepper (as-2,cl-1) George Cables (p)
Berkeley, CA, May 11 & 12, 1982

GC: Yeah, that was the last session. Tete-a-Tete and Goin’ Home were the same session. We didn’t know it at the time when we were doing it that it would be Art’s last. I chose that song “Goin‘ Home,” I was going to dedicate it to my mother-in-law who passed, but then Art passed away, so it became the idea of Art “Goin’ Home,” and that became the title of the record.

And then the other one, “Tete-a-Tete” was a kind of calypso I wrote.

I remember one thing, on the first session Art was nervous about doing it duo, and Ed Michel kept going and coming back in, so we locked the door. Course, Ed just found the key and came back! [laughs] But Art just didn’t wait, he said, “Come on man, I just want to do this.” But Ed was being a producer, you know, gotta do this, gotta do that. Duo was a new thing for both of us, we wanted to get it right.

George Cables : Wonderful L.A. : George Cables (p) David Williams (b) Ralph Penland (d)
Hollywood, CA, December 13 & 14, 1982

GC: Wonderful L.A., that was just before I left LA, it probably was released after I moved from LA! But that was a good record, with David Williams and Ralph Penland. I had worked with Ralph with Freddie, and David was living in LA at the time, he worked with Cedar, wonderful bassist to play with. That same group went to Trinidad and Barbados, but this was a good record, I have to listen to it again. Sleeping Bee, another one with the same Japanese company.

George Cables : Sleeping Bee : Tony Dumas (b) replaces David Williams
Hollywood, CA, May 19 & 20, 1983

GC: Yesterday, Today, and Forever, with Shorty Rogers and Bud Shank, now that was different…

Shorty Rogers
Yesterday, Today And Forever : Shorty Rogers/Bud Shank : Shorty Rogers (tp,flhrn) Bud Shank (as,fl) George Cables (p) Bob Magnusson (b) Ron McCurdy (d)
Hollywood, CA, June, 1983

EI: These are like some other white West Coast jazz heroes.

GC: I had a good relationship with Bud, too. And Bud and Shorty were tight, you know. I’ve been doing Port Townsend for almost 30 years now, and I went up the first year with Bud, I think it was the first year that he was involved in, and he was there for 20 years or so. And so you know, he had me up there every year, I only missed one year, and that was after he had split.  We played some good music with Bud and Shorty, that was interesting.

Shorty was a born-again at that time.

EI: Oh, no!

GC: Yeah. But he didn’t run that on me. It was nice. When I was a kid I would watch movies with Shorty Rogers, doing that stuff.

EI: “The Three Little Bops.”

GC: Oh yeah! [laughs] The animation, Warner Bros! “Three Little Bops!”  That was great, that was funny.[laughs]

Peter Sprague : Musica Del Mar : George Cables (p) Peter Sprague (g,el-g) Bob Magnusson (b) Eddie Moore (d)
San Francisco, CA, September, 1983

Bobby Hutcherson : Nice Groove : Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) Herbie Lewis (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
Monster, Holland, December 11 & 12, 1983

Bebop And Beyond : Warren Gale (tp,flhrn) Mel Martin (sop,ts) John Handy (as) George Cables (p) Frank Tusa (b) Eddie Marshall (d)
San Rafael, CA, February, 1984

GC: Warren Gale. He was a hell of a trumpet player.

EI: Oh, yeah? Some of these West Coast names are less familiar to me.

Full Circle : Bruce Forman Quartet With Bobby Hutcherson : Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) Bruce Forman (g) Jeff Carney (b) Eddie Marshall (d)
San Francisco, May, 1984

George Cables : The Big Jazz Trio : George Cables (p) Stanley Clarke (b) Peter Erskine (d)
Hollywood, May 7 & 8, 1984

GC: Big Jazz Trio. This is the very first recording of “Helen’s Song,” I had just written it. What year was that? ’84… Wow [laughs]. Stanley had a contract with somebody, we had started working together with Joe Henderson in 1970 sometime, and by this time he was doing very well with his thing, and they wanted to put everybody on the cover, but they couldn’t put Stanley on the cover, the contract wouldn’t allow, so they said, “Ok, we’re going to take photos of all of you from the waist down.” So we stood there on this ledge of the Spaghetti Factory, across from the studio there, and it was a “big jazz trio,” so big we couldn’t even fit in the picture, that was the idea. So everybody’s legs, and Stanley had shorts on.

Bobby Hutcherson : Good Bait : Branford Marsalis (ts-1,sop-2) Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) Ray Drummond (b) Philly Joe Jones (d)
Berkeley, CA, August 9 & 10, 1984

Bruce Forman
Dynamics : Bruce Forman/George Cables : George Cables (p) Bruce Forman (g)
San Francisco, February, 1985

GC: Yeah, duet with Bruce Forman, that was a good record. We rehearsed a lot for that record. We’d get together and get the repertoire together, and we’d do duet concerts, just guitar and piano.

EI: I’ll have to look for that one, but I certainly know the next one very well, Phantom of the City with Tony Williams and John Heard.

 George Cables
Phantom Of The City : George Cables (p) John Heard (b) Tony Williams (d)
Berkeley, CA, May 14 & 15, 1985

GC: Oh yeah, I was so thrilled that Tony would do this record with me, and John Heard.

EI: How did you get Tony involved?

GC: I just asked him. I was going to ask Billy Higgins or Tony Williams, and I said, let me ask Tony first. I just asked, him, you know said I had a date coming up. And he sounded great: I was thrilled. He put that introduction on “Phantom of the City” that was great. He did a rehearsal at his house, and “Phantom of the City” we almost forgot to do it on the date, and Tony said “Didn’t you have another piece?” “Oh yeah, ‘Phantom of the City’!”. I was the producer on this, so I had a lot of other things on my mind, but I forgot about the main song! Tony had a thing on there [sings drum intro], I remember, he worked that out, it was fascinating at the rehearsal to see Tony Williams work out this [sings drum beat]. I thought that really kind of made the piece.

EI: One thing about this record is you can hear how much Tony is swinging in that style, playing in a piano trio so beautifully, you know?

GC: Oh man, and his sound, we got in the studio, it was Ralph Kaffel’s [president of Fantasy Records ] son Phil Kaffel who was the engineer and he was so good, he had Tony’s sound down like that. Tony had a sound that was easy, voom, there it is. “You got it already?!?”  That was great, I loved it. Loved working with him.

EI: That one needs to come out on CD, that’s a great record.

GC: I wish it would.

Bud Shank
California Concert : Bud Shank/Shorty Rogers : Shorty Rogers (flhrn) Bud Shank (as) George Cables (p) Monty Budwig (b) Sherman Ferguson (d)
Costa Mesa, CA, May 19, 1985

Archie Shepp
California Meeting – Live On Broadway : Archie Shepp (ts,sop) George Cables (p) Herbie Lewis (b) Eddie Marshall (d) Royal Blue (vcl-1)
Sacramento, CA, May 22, 1985

GC: Archie Shepp! A live record. Royal Blue, he came and sat in on one.

EI: You take a famous solo on “Giant Steps” on this one.

GC: I do?

EI: Yeah. It’s really fast.

GC: Oh really?

EI: I’m not sure if it’s that good of a record overall, honestly, but that’s an amazing piano solo.

GC: I had always listened to Archie. We had played a couple gigs and down at Kimball’s in San Francisco. Archie really zeroed in on “Giant Steps.” You are supposed to to play each chord, B, D, G, Bb, Eb, [sings arpeggios], but what my ears were telling me was telling me was that Archie was going from B to Bb to Eb, like “Night and Day” sort of. It was like he got to the nuts and bolts of the song, like he had that big thing. Instead of the trees he was dealing with the forest.

I don’t know if that was an accident or what, but you know sometimes you hear something and you get an epiphany. One day I was listening to the Art Ensemble of Chicago and something was transferred, like: “I didn’t hear that before. Oh! That’s what it’s about.” One time, Freddie Hubbard and I were in Chicago somewhere, and somehow we went on one of those nights and we were listening, and you know, you hear something that pulls you, and that night we both got the Art Ensemble. There have been some people like that I’ve just tried to get and I just can’t get it. But it wasn’t the case with Shepp, or in that case with the Art Ensemble.

EI: Well, Shepp is always interesting, I said it wasn’t that good record because you can tell that it’s a very rough date, someone threw up some microphones and then there’s no rehearsal or organization, you know.

GC: Royal Blue comes in and he wants to do St James Infirmary…!

EI: “Night in Tunisia” lasts a long time with some funny stuff that happens structurally.  I like another chance to hear Herbie Lewis, though…

Laurie Antonioli
Soul Eyes : Laurie Antonioli Featuring George Cables : Laurie Antonioli (vcl) George Cables (p)
San Francisco, CA?, June 28 & 29, 1985
Bud Shank : That Old Feeling : The Bud Shank Quartet : Bud Shank (as) George Cables (p) John Heard (b) Albert “Tootie” Heath (d)
Berkeley, CA, February 17 & 18, 1986

GC: Tootie, I love Tootie. Be careful when you’re around him, he might say anything!

EI: Especially if there’s a woman in the room, he’ll say anything! And then you’re guilty by association!

GC: [laughs] Oh man…

Double Image : Frank Morgan/George Cables : Frank Morgan (as) George Cables (p)
Glendale, California, May 21 & 22, 1986

Bruce Forman : There Are Times : The Bruce Forman Quartet : Bobby Hutcherson (vib) George Cables (p) Bruce Forman (g) Jeff Carney (b) Eddie Marshall (d)
San Francisco, CA, August, 1986

Chico Freeman
Chico Freeman (ts,as,sop,sopranino,bar,Bb-cl,Eb-cl,b-cl,b-fl,alto-fl,C-fl,perc) George Cables (p) Herbie Lewis (b) Eddie Moore (d)
Menlo Park, CA, November 12, 1986

George Cables
By George : Plays The Music Of George Gershwin : George Cables (p) John Heard (b) Ralph Penland (d)
Berkeley, CA, February 27, 1987

EI: I have this one, Plays the Music of George Gershwin.

GC: That one got a little play, people liked that. I mean they liked this one better, they said, “Ok, now he’s really playing trio.” I thought the other one, Phantom of the City, was the one, as far as trio was concerned.

EI: I’m not going to disagree with you there.

GC: Frank Morgan, this one was deep, but maybe I shouldn’t talk about this one.

 Frank Morgan : Quiet Fire : Frank Morgan/Bud Shank Quintet : Frank Morgan, Bud Shank (as) George Cables (p) John Heard (b) Jimmy Cobb (d)
Live “Jazz Alley”, Seattle, WA, March 26-28, 1987

EI: Let’s hear it, George, you’ve been so nice about everyone!

GC: [Laughs] So Frank and Bud didn’t get along that well, because Frank was resentful of Bud, and of who Bud was, and Frank had spent all that time in jail, so Frank kept noodling around during Bud’s solo, and Bud didn’t like that. I mean, who would?

So Bud would call me over to the side and say “You know, Little Lord Fauntleroy over there…” Because Frank was supposed to have cleaned up and all that, so Bud would come to ME and call him Little Lord Fauntleroy, and I would hear it from both ends! That’s why I always say that the piano player’s the glue! Gotta keep everybody happy. But they did a good job on “Quiet Fire,” that was good.

EI: And Jimmy Cobb on drums.

GC: Yeah man, I love working with Jimmy, I just saw him the other day.

Loren Pickford : Song For A Blue Planet : Loren Pickford (as) George Cables (p) George Roessler (g) John Heard (b) Billy Higgins (d)
Los Angeles, June, 1988

Charlie Rouse : Epistrophy : Don Cherry (tp-1) Charlie Rouse (ts) Buddy Montgomery (vib-2) George Cables (p) Jessica Williams (p-3) Jeff Chambers (b) Ralph Penland (d)
Live “Bimbo’s 365 Club”, San Francisco, CA, October 10, 1988

GC: Oh, that was Charlie Rouse’s last date.

EI: Don Cherry’s on a couple tunes.

GC: That was an Orrin Keepnews production, and we got to play a version of “‘Round Midnight” that I really like. I think it’s solo, and that was maybe one of the early solo ones, I think that was solo piano on there. I remember Cecil Taylor telling me, “Man, I heard that man, and I really liked that, man!”

EI: Cecil told you that, really?

GC: Yeah. Which reminds me, talking about Tootie, we went to see Elvin and Cecil at the Blue Note. Tootie was with Tommy Flanagan, I had gone to see Tommy,  and Tootie said, “Let’s go down to the Blue Note and see Elvin, let’s check that out!” So we tried to get a cab, but there were no cabs. We were at the Jazz Standard, though, so we just walked down and got in there, and it was standing room only. And Elvin and Cecil were playing on the way in, and Elvin’s rumbling, and Cecil’s doing his thing, like partly Tai Chi and partly whatever, and then he would rattle and rumble a bit, and then Elvin would rumble and they would play, and at the end people would cheer. So after the set, Tootie leaned over and said “George. What was the name of that tune?” [laughs]

So yeah, back to Rouse, this was a great evening, I got to play part of that night, and I got to play with Don Cherry, I think that was the only time I played with Don Cherry, it was a special night for me.

EI: Frank Morgan, Mood Indigo. I like this record, it’s got a nice vibe.

Frank Morgan : Mood Indigo : Wynton Marsalis (tp-1) Frank Morgan (as,voice) George Cables (p-2) Ronnie Mathews (p-3) Buster Williams (b) Al Foster (d)
New York, June 26 & 27, 1989

GC: Frank recorded my song “Lullaby” a couple times at least. And during the gig, we’d begin the set with “Lullaby” and end the set with “Lullaby.”

 Jiggs Whigham
The Jiggs Up : Jiggs Whigham (tb) Bud Shank (as) George Cables (p) John Clayton (b) Jeff Hamilton (d)
Live “Centrum”, Port Townsend, Washington, July 26, 1989

Chuck Metcalf : Elsie Street : Chuck Metcalf Quintet Feat. George Cables : Jay Thomas (tp,fl,ts,sop) Dan Greenblatt (ts,sop) George Cables (p) Chuck Metcalf (b) Jamael Nance (d)
Seattle, Wash., November 16 & 17, 1989

GC: Chuck Metcalf is a good writer.

 Greg Marvin
Taking Off ! : Greg Marvin Feat. Tom Harrell : Tom Harrell (flhrn) Greg Marvin (ts) George Cables (p) Joe Locke (vib-1) added, Eric Von Essen (b) Sherman Ferguson (d)
Englewood Cliffs, N.J., November 24 & 27, 1989

EI: We’re about to get to the digital era happens and the discography just explodes into so many records. Stop me if you see something you want to comment on here.

Richard Davis
Live At Sweet Basil : Richard Davis And Friends : Cecil Bridgewater (tp) Ricky Ford (ts) Sir Roland Hanna (p) George Cables (p-1) Richard Davis (b) Ronnie Burrage (d)
Live “Sweet Basil”, New York, August 8, 1990

Frank Morgan
A Lovesome Thing : Roy Hargrove (tp-1) Frank Morgan (as,sop) George Cables (p) David Williams (b) Lewis Nash (d) Abbey Lincoln (vcl)
New York, September 5 & 6, 1990

Joe Locke
Longing : Joe Locke Quintet : Mark Ledford (tp-1,vcl-1) Johannes Enders (ts-2) Joe Locke (vib,midi-vib) George Cables (p) Jeff Andrews (b) Ronnie Burrage (d)
Copenhagen, Denmark, October, 1990

GC: Joe Locke Quintet, Yeah that was a Steeplechase.

EI: Right. You started making a lot of Steeplechase records.

GC: I like Joe Locke, you know.

EI: A great player, for sure.

George Cables : Cables Fables : George Cables (p) Peter Washington (b) Kenny Washington (d)
Klampenborg, Denmark, March, 1991

GC: Oh yeah, this, Cables’ Fables. This should have been called George Washington Trio. [Laughs] But this is a good record, I’m really happy about this one.

Joe Chambers : Phantom Of The City : Philip Harper (tp) Bob Berg (ts) George Cables (p) Santi Debriano (b) Joe Chambers (d)
Live “Birdland”, New York, March 8 & 9, 1991

George Cables : Night And Day : George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Billy Hart (d)
New York, May 5, 1991

EI: You play Jaco’s “Three Views of a Secret” trio here with McBee and Jabali: no one else plays that piano trio, I think.

GC: Oh, I love that, that’s a great song. I played that with Toots Thielemans first, I learned it when I was playing at the Keystone.

Max Roach : Max Roach Chorus & Orchestra : George Cables (p) Max Roach (d) Priscilla Baskerville, Florence Jackson, Karen Jackson, Lucille J. Jacobsen, Sarah Ann Rodgers, Robbin L. Balfour,Brenda Lee Taub, Christopher Pickens, Abraham Shelton, Thomas Young, James Gainer, Greg Jones, T. Ray Lawrence, John Motley, Ronell Bey (vcl)
New York, June 15, 1991

Jeff Jerolamon
Introducing Jeff Jerolamon : Jeff Jerolamon Featuring George Cables : George Cables (p) Javier Colina (b) Jeff Jerolamon (d)
Valencia, Spain, October 28, 1991

George Cables : Beyond Forever : George Cables Quartet : George Cables (p) Joe Locke (vib) Santi Debriano (b) Victor Lewis (d)
Copenhagen, Denmark, December, 1991

Red Mitchell
Live at Port Townsend : George Cables (p) Red Mitchell (b)
Live “Summer Jazz Workshop/Festival”, Port Townsend, WA, July 25, 1992

GC: Oh yeah, that was fun. That was a concert, in Port Townsend.  We did a rehearsal. He said, “Look, we’ll just get together and talk this stuff down,” and then when we got there, he said “Man, I didn’t bring my bass, you mind if I just sing my part?” [laughs] So we did, we went over what we needed to do, and then boom, there it was.

Sax Legends, Volume 1 : David Liebman (sop-1) Lee Konitz (as-2) Phil Woods (as-3) Frank Morgan (as-4) Steve Coleman (as-5) Donald Harrison (as-6) John Zorn (as-7) Craig Bailey (as-8)Archie Shepp (ts-9) Houston Person (ts-10) Bennie Wallace (ts-11) David Murray (ts-12) George Cables (p) Santi DeBriano (b) Rufus Reid (b-14) Joe Chambers (d)
New York, August 13, 14 & 25, 1992

GC: Oh, this is when Joe Chambers was in charge, and it was like one or two songs with every saxophone you could think of.

EI: Even John Zorn’s on it.

GC: Yeah, John Zorn, that was interesting, actually.

George Cables : I Mean You : George Cables Trio : George Cables (p) Jay Anderson (b) Adam Nussbaum (d)
New York ?, April, 1993

GC: The first tune is “Woofin’ and Tweetin.’” That used to be Mort Fega, on WBIA. We used to use his show as an opposite to Symphony Sid, it’s a Gene Ammons song. This is a good record too, I like it. Every time I see Harold Mabern, he heard that song “Double or Nothing” and liked it, so every time he sees me he says “Double or nothing!” [Laughs]

Doug Raney
Blues On A Par : George Cables (p) Doug Raney (g) Steve LaSpina (b) Adam Nussbaum (d)
Copenhagen, Denmark, April, 1993

John Stubblefield Morning Song : John Stubblefield (ts,sop) George Cables (p) Clint Houston (b) Victor Lewis (d)
Brooklyn, NY, May, 1993

GC: Yeah, Stubblefield, that was maybe his last record.

Ralph Lalama : You Know What I Mean : Ralph Lalama Quartet : Ralph Lalama (ts) George Cables (p) Dennis Irwin (b) Leroy Williams (d)
New York, December 26, 1993

George Cables At Maybeck : Maybeck Recital Hall Series, 35 : George Cables (p) solo
Live “Maybeck Recital Hall”, Berkeley, CA, January 9, 1994

Chico Freeman
Focus : Chico Freeman Quintet : Arthur Blythe (as) Chico Freeman (ts) George Cables (p) Santi Debriano (b) Yoron Israel (d)
Berkeley, CA, May 16, 1994

GC: I got to play with him too, Arthur Blythe. I liked him.

EI: Beautiful sound, right?

GC: Yeah!

Nathan Davis : I’m A Fool To Want You : Nathan Davis With Special Guest Grover Washington, Jr. : Nathan Davis (ts,sop,as,cl,b-cl) Grover Washington, Jr. (ts,sop) George Cables (p) Santi Debriano (b)Greg Humphries (d) Pierre Marc Davis (perc)
Valley Forge, PA, December, 1994

George Cables : Skylark : George Cables Trio : George Cables (p) Jay Anderson (b) Albert “Tootie” Heath (d)
New York ?, April, 1995

George Cables : Person To Person : George Cables (p) solo
Ganlose, Denmark, April 5, 1995

George Cables : Alone Together : George Cables (p) Carlos Barretto (b) Philippe Soirat (d)
Lisbon, Portugal, June, 1995

GC: Alone Together, that was in Portugal. The bassist, Barretto, wrote a song called “Scablemates!” [Laughs]

Bobby Shew : Heavyweights : The Bobby Shew Quintet : Bobby Shew (tp,flhrn) Carl Fontana (tb) George Cables (p) Bob Magnusson (b) Joe LaBarbera (d)
Los Angeles, September 20 & 21, 1995

Norman Hedman : Healing Hands : Norman Hedman & Tropique ’96 : Ronnie Buttocoveolli (tp,flhrn) Andrienne Wilson (fl,vcl) Chico Freeman (ts,sop) Glen Pearson (p,synt) George Cables (p) Mario Rodriguez (b) Norman Hedman (cga,perc,chekere) Joe Gonzalez (bgo,bell,cga,chekere) Willie Martinez (timb,d)
New York, 1996

Andres Boiarsky : Into The Light : Claudio Roditi (tp-1) Paquito D’Rivera (as-2) Andres Boiarsky (ts,sop-3) George Cables (p) David Finck (b) Ignacio Berroa (d) Gabriel Machado (perc-4)
Englewood Cliffs, N.J., September 24 & 25, 1996

Boulou Ferre
New York, NY : Boulou Ferre Quintet : George Cables (p) Boulou Ferre, Elios Ferre (g) Jay Anderson (b) Billy Hart (d)
New York ?, October, 1996

Pete La Roca
Swingtime : Pete Sims : Jimmy Owens (tp) David Liebman (sop) Ricky Ford (ts) George Cables (p) Santi Debriano (b) Pete LaRoca (d) [aka Pete Sims (d) ]

George Cables
Dark Side, Light Side : George Cables (p) Jay Anderson (b) Billy Hart (d)
New York, October, 1996

GC: That song “Ah, George, we hardly knew you” was  by Don Pullen song. Sort of Spanish-sounding.

EI: How did you learn it?

GC: I was playing with a group called…

EI: Was it the four saxophone thing?

GC: Yeah, and Don Pullen was on it.

EI: I saw that live and Don Pullen was the piano player.

GC: Right, I came in after Don.

EI: It was Nathan Davis, Sam Rivers, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, yeah, I saw that. Can’t remember the name of it either.

GC: Ha. This is your life! [Laughs]

EI: [Laughs] Yeah, we can wrap this up pretty soon. Do you want to take control, scroll down here?

GC: No, you’re doing a good job.

George Cables : Bluesology : George Cables Trio : George Cables (p) Jay Anderson (b) Billy Drummond (d)
New York, September, 1997

GC: Bluesology, I like the cover on that. And I got to do “Ebony Moonbeams” and “Voodoo Lady.” It’s a pretty good record, and I like the way we play “In Your Own Sweet Way.”

Winard Harper, we did some stuff. When he plays live his bass drum, you can feel it in your chest, sometimes you have to gasp!

Winard Harper : Trap Dancer : Patrick Rickman (tp,perc-1) J.D. Allen (ts,perc-1) George Cables (p) Eric Revis (b) Winard Harper (d,slit-d-2,jimbe-d-3) Cecil Brooks, III (d-2,perc-3)
Paterson, N.J., December 30, 1997

Jamey Aebersold
Dexter Gordon : Volume 82 : George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Victor Lewis (d)

Von Freeman
75Th Birthday Celebration : Von Freeman, Chico Freeman (sax) George Cables (p) Santi DeBriano (b) Gene Jackson (d) Dianne Reeves (vcl)
Live “Blue Note Jazz Club”, New York, April 18 & 19, 1998

Ricky Ford
Balaena : Ricky Ford Quartet : Ricky Ford (ts) George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Ed Thigpen (d)
Live “Sunset Jazz Club”, Paris, France, July 30 & 31, 1999

Bennie Wallace
In Berlin : Bennie Wallace (ts) George Cables (p) Peter Washington (b) Herlin Riley (d)
Berlin, Germany, November 6, 1999

GC: Bennie Wallace, with Peter and Herlin, it’s the only time I got to play with Herlin. On the next session is Ray Drummond, he’s a great bassist.

 Mel Martin
Friends And Mentors : Mel Martin And Bebop & Beyond : Jack Walrath (tp) Bobby Watson (as) Mel Martin (ts,sop) Mike Longo (p-1) George Cables (p-2) Ray Drummond (b) Winard Harper (d-1) Billy Hart (d-2)
Brooklyn, NY, November 23, 1999 & June 19, 2000

Garrison Fewell
City Of Dreams : Tino Tracanna (sop,ts) George Cables (p) Garrison Fewell (g) Steve LaSpina (b) Jeff Williams (d)
River Edge, N.J., December 8 & 9, 1999

GC: Garrison Fewell is a good guitarist.  I like his playing.

Norman Hedman. He’s gone too, damn.

Norman Hedman : Craig Rivers (pic-fl) Roger Byam (ts) A.J. Mantas (mar) George Cables (p,arr) Ron Monroe (b) Norman Hedman (cga,perc,arr) Willie Martinez (timb) Joe Gonzalez (shekere)
New York, 2000

Winard Harper:  Faith : Winard Harper Sextet : Patrick Rickman (tp) Wycliffe Gordon (tb-1) Brian Horton (ts) George Cables (p-2) Nick Rolfe (p-3) Brandon Owens (b) Winard Harper (d) Abdou Mboup (perc)Alioune Faye (djembe-4) Carrie Smith (vcl)
Paramus, N.J., January 17, 2000

George Cables
One For My Baby : George Cables (p) Jim Anderson (b) Yoron Israel (d)
New York ?, April, 2000

Steve Johns
No Saints No Sinners : Steve Johns/Peter Brainin : Eddie Henderson, Chris Rogers (tp,flhrn) Conrad Herwig (tb) Peter Brainin (reeds) George Cables (p) Jay Anderson (b) Steve Johns (d)
Riveredge, N.J., May 30, 2000

Jay Clayton
Brooklyn 2000 : Jay Clayton (vcl) acc by Gary Bartz (as,sop) George Cables (p) Anthony Cox (b) Jerry Granelli (d)
Brooklyn, NY, September 16 & 17, 2000

GC: Jay Clayton and Jerry Granelli, this was an interesting record. “You Taught My Heart To Sing” is a McCoy Tyner song I learned from Jay. She does it in 3/4 , but it’s not really in 3/4 and it’s not really in her key of B-flat, either. I should have done my homework: the record with Jackie Mac is in A-Flat or something.

But then I said, well I’m going to do it in B-flat, but I like it in D-flat, too, so the last A I’m going to modulate to D flat. And I liked that vibe, so I do it that way.

Because I do believe that once you write a song and once it’s out there, it’s like your kid: he’s going to do what he’s going to do, you know. And with my music, while it comes from my hands, if somebody else is going to play it, I’m curious to see what are they going to do with it, how are they going to make it their own.

And some people don’t like that, especially some composers don’t like that! [laughs] They say, “This is how it goes!”

But I have to allow it with my own music. And when I play other people’s music I do it too, just trying to make it my own. Maybe it means just putting in an introduction, changing the tempo, changing the chords, whatever it takes.

Pat LaBarbera
From The Heart : Pat LaBarbera (ts,sop) George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Joe LaBarbera (d)
Toronto, Canada, October 11 & 12, 2000

George Cables : Shared Secrets : Ralf Rickert (tp,flhrn) Bennie Maupin (b-cl,ts) Gary Bartz (sop,as) Larry Klimas (ts,bar,fl,sop) George Cables (p,el-p,emulator) Abraham Laboriel, Alphonso Johnson (b) Peter Erskine, Vinnie Colaiuta (d) Pat Murphy (cga,perc) Luis Conte (timb)
Los Angeles, 2001

GC: Shared Secrets, oh boy. The only record where I had to do multi-tracking. I was in the studio with Helen’s sister, and first I thought we’d just get some stuff together, but they said we had to finish it and do the whole thing. So two rhythm sections, Peter Erskine and Abraham Laboriel, and Vinnie Colaiuta and Alphonso Johnson. So we did those tracks, and then we did the horns on top of that, we used a Kurtzweil with an emulator, so I could get voices, I could get all kinds of little stuff, all the percussion instruments and stuff. Then I did a horn section, trumpet and flugel, and one guy, Larry Klimas played flute, soprano, tenor, and bari. And one time he overdubbed the flute two times, so we had three flutes. And then some extra percussion came, Luis Conte. And Bennie Maupin came and overdubbed solos, and Gary Bartz. So this turned out to be a really nice record, I really like it.

George Cables : Senorita de Aranjuez : George Cables Trio : George Cables (p) George Mraz (b) Victor Lewis (d)
New York?, June 19, 2001

Roswell Rudd
Roswell Rudd & Yomo Toro with Bobby Sanabria & Ascension : John Walsh, Mike Rodriguez (tp) Roswell Rudd, Chris Washburne (tb) Gene Jefferson, Peter Brainin (as) Jay Collins (ts,fl)Boris Kozlof, Jorge Longo, Alex Hernandez, Andy Eulau (bar) John DiMartino (p,org) Yellssonn Villamar, Igor Atalita, George Cables (p) Raul Juarena (bandoneon) Alice Svigal, Ilmar Gavilan (vln)Donald Nicks (el-b) Bobby Sanabria (d,tymp,cga,bgo,perc,voice) Hiram “El Pavo” Remon (perc,voice) Wilson “Chembo” Corneil (cga) Guillermo “Yomo” Toro (tres) Marciela Serrano, Michelle Silva, Allesandro Belloni, Dalia Silva (voice)
New York?, June 18, 2002

Garrison Fewell
Red Door Number 11 : George Cables (p) Garrison Fewell (g) Attilio Zanchi (b) Gianni Cazzola (d)
Milan, Italy, July 2 & 3, 2002

George Cables : Is Paris Burning? : George Cables Trio : George Cables (p) George Mraz (b) Victor Lewis (d)
New York, August 7 & 8, 2002

Deardorf/Peterson Group : Portal : Hans Teuber (saxes) George Cables (p,el-p) Dave Peterson (g) Chuck Deardorf (b) John Bishop (d) Michael Spiro (perc)
Seattle, WA, c. 2003

George Cables : Looking for the Light : George Cables Quartet : Gary Bartz (as,sop) George Cables (p) Peter Washington (b) Victor Lewis (d)
New York, January 27 & 28, 2003

EI: With Gary Bartz, Peter Washington and Victor Lewis, I’ve got to get this. Again for this Muse FX label like Shared Secrets.

GC: Yeah, Muse FX, that’s my brother-in-law, Pat Murphy. He came to New York to do this one, so we went to the studio on 45th between 8th and 9th. That’s a good one, I might have an extra one of those too. “Mr. Baggy Pants”, that’s dedicated to my father, “E.V.C.”, that’s dedicated to my mother.

Sonny Fortune
Continuum : Sonny Fortune (as,sop,ts) George Cables (p) Wayne Dockery (b) Steve Johns (d) Steve Berrios (cga,perc)
New York, June 23, 2003

Frank Morgan
City Nights : Frank Morgan (as) George Cables (p) Curtis Lundy (b) Billy Hart (d)
Live “Jazz Standard”, New York, November 26-28, 2003

Frank Morgan
Raising The Standard : Frank Morgan (as) George Cables (p) Curtis Lundy (b) Billy Hart (d)
Live “Jazz Standard”, New York, November 28-30, 2003

GC: Oh, Frank Morgan. That was a live record, they released two records.

EI: Yeah, I was there. A soulful gig to be sure.

The Jazz Explorers
Jazz My Soul : Bob Rebholz (b-fl) George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Billy Hart (d)
New York, January & March 2004

Peter Leitch : Autobiography : Jed Levy (ts,fl-1) George Cables (p) Peter Leitch (g) Dwayne Burno (b) Steve Johns (d)
New York, January 24, 2004

GC: Peter Leitch, I like Peter, he’s a good guitarist.

George Cables
A Letter To Dexter : George Cables (p) Rufus Reid (b) Victor Lewis (d)
New York, May 25, 2004

GC: This one I dedicated to Dexter as a trio, because I believe you don’t need to have a saxophone to dedicate music to Dexter Gordon.

EI: I have this, it’s really nice. After all, who better to pay tribute to Dexter than you? You and Victor Lewis is also always a good combination. Billy Hart was telling me about that, too.

Gary Bartz
Soprano Stories : Gary Bartz (sop) George Cables (p) John Hicks (p-1) Greg Bandy (g) James King (b)
Bushey, Herts, United Kingdom, 2005

Jerry Weldon
The Smoke Sessions : Jerry Weldon Quartet : Jerry Weldon (ts) George Cables (p) John Webber (b) Jimmy Cobb (d)
Live “Smoke Jazz Club”, New York, 2005-2009

GC: Jerry Weldon is a great saxophonist and great guy. He used to be my neighbor. Jimmy Cobb, we did that at Smoke.

George Cables
Live In Bollate : George Cables Quartet : Piero Odorici (ts,sop) George Cables (p) Essiet Essiet (b) Victor Lewis (d)
Live “All’Auditorium Don Bosco di Cascina del Sole”, Bollate, March 22, 2005

Jerry Weldon : 3 O’Clock in the Morning : Live at Smoke : Jerry Weldon (ts) George Cables (p) John Webber (b) Jimmy Cobb (d)
Live “Smoke”, New York, May 19, 2005

George Cables
You Don’t Know Me : George Cables (p)
New York, May 5 & 6, 2007

GC:  You Don’t Know Me, that’s a double record. I liked that one, all solo. It was really different.

George Cables : But Beautiful : George Cables Trio : George Cables (p) George Mraz (b) Lewis Nash (d)
unidentified location, June, 2006

Sonny Fortune : You and the Night and the Music : Sonny Fortune (as,fl) George Cables (p) Chip Jackson (b) Steve Johns (d)
Dover, N.J., December 18-20, 2006

GC: [Sings “You and the Night and the Music”] I enjoy playing with Sonny, Sonny has high energy, and when I played with Sonny live, it made that I hadn’t done in many years.

EI: Yeah, Sonny Fortune is kind of a return to almost 30 years ago, when you were playing more modal music. Or maybe I’m wrong, would you use the term “Modal Music?”

GC: I would, although it’s not really accurate [laughs]. I mean, you stretch out, you use that tonal center, but the high energy, he’s very influenced by Trane, so a lot of pieces have that dedicated key, but then there are some that aren’t. Some of those people kind of mess with the tones and the harmonies, they open it up, you know.

 Shea Breaux Wells
A Blind Date : Shea Breaux Wells (vcl) acc by David Weiss (tp) Craig Handy (as,fl) George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Billy Hart (d)
Forestville, CA, June 6 & 7, 2007

The Jazz Explorers
Strength To Climb : David Liebman (ts) George Cables (p) and others

Dick Griffin
Time Will Tell : Dick Griffin (tb) James Spaulding (fl,as) George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Victor Lewis (d)
c. 2010

The Cookers
Warriors : David Weiss (tp) Eddie Henderson (tp,flhrn) Craig Handy (fl,as) Billy Harper (ts) George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Billy Hart (d)
South Orange, N.J., January 19 & 20, 2010

The Cookers
Cast the First Stone : Eddie Henderson, David Weiss (tp) Craig Handy (as) Billy Harper (ts) Azar Lawrence (sop,ts-1) George Cables (p) Cecil McBee (b) Billy Hart (d)
New York, April 5 & 6, 2010

GC: I have a couple of pieces on this with the Cookers. That’s a great group, the guys play well, take no prisoners, playing with that energy that sometimes is missing in the music today.

Tim Mayer
Resilience : Dominick Farinacci (tp-1) Greg Gisbert (tp-2) Claudio Roditi (tp-3) Michael Dease (tb) Robert Edwards (b-tb-4) Don Braden (fl-5) Robert Foster (alto-fl-5) Michael Thomas (cl-5) Tim Mayer (ts) George Cables (p) Mark Whitfield (g-6) Dezron Douglas (b) Willie Jones, III (d)
August, 2010

Eric Alexander : Gentle Ballads V : Eric Alexander (ts) George Cables (p) Nat Reeves (b) Joe Farnsworth (d)
New York, March 29 & 30, 2011

GC: I would like to hear this,  Nat Reeves just told me it was a good record. I remember it being good. I did an arrangement on here, “Nature Boy.”

So that’s it?

EI: That’s it! At least for now…

GC:  I’m about to do a CD release with Victor and Essiet, who are on the CD, and I’m quite happy with that CD.

EI: It’s the one dedicated to your late wife?

GC: Yes.

EI: How long were you with Helen?

GC: 28 years. We weren’t married, really, but we were closer than many married people.

EI: Sure.

GC: She’s still around, you can probably see evidence of her everywhere you look in the house, you know. And we had a long distance thing, you know, because she was in San Francisco and I was in LA or New York. But we were both independent people, so it worked out pretty well.

Cables Muse