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Charles Ables Dies at 58

Charles Ables, who spent most of his career playing bass for singer Shirley Horn, passed away on Oct. 8. He was 58.

Ables was born on July 23, 1943 in Mississippi, and had an extensive career before joining Horn, playing guitar on a Ray Charles recording and participating in Carmen McRae’s last record. When Ables came to Horn and asked about the possibility of accompanying her, Horn responded that she didn’t need a guitarist so much as she needed a bassist. Enterprisingly, Ables took up the bass, and soon became a member of the Shirley Horn Trio, a position he held for over 30 years.

Ables had much success with Horn, touring around the world and participating in numerous acclaimed recordings, including 1998’s I Remember Miles, which won a Grammy award. Horn said of Ables and drummer Steve Williams, “They know which way I’m going to turn. When the mood is really there and we get into it, it seems like we can feel each other.” No higher tribute can be paid an accompanist.

Ables is survived by his mother, Gladys, a brother Richard, and a daughter Tiffany. Condolences may be sent to: Richard Ables, 513 14th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.

Originally Published