George Cables : You Don’t Know Me

This double solo CD is the purest and most generous supply of George Cables’ passionate, profuse piano ever available in one place. Cables’ version of romanticism is luxuriant but never soft. He shares his feelings through rigorous, dense designs, defined in a fiercely firm touch. Cables is all about tough love. In the hands of a lesser artist, Cables’ approach to solo piano would be over the top. Such is the extravagance of his decoration, in skeins of counterlines and flurries of grace notes and fidgeting chords and digressions in long strands and parenthetical asides and rushed tempos. Cables makes it work because his outpouring of detail is architectural.

The 21-piece program contains rich interpretations of great songs like “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Stella by Starlight” and “The Way We Were.” Normally they are ballads, but Cables, as he rains his own content upon them, speeds them up. There are also eight Cables originals (six of them dedicated to family members) and three spirituals (the best is the slowest piece here, “Going Home”). Two pieces associated with Bill Evans are successfully contrarian. “My Foolish Heart” is not ethereal, and “Waltz For Debby” is not lilting. The former is voluminously embellished, yet poignant. The latter spills everywhere, yet sings.

Thomas Conrad

Thomas Conrad has a BA from the University of Utah and an MA from the University of Iowa (where he attended the Writers Workshop). He taught English at Central State University in Ohio, then left the academic world for the private sector. His affiliation with publications such as JazzTimes, Stereophile, The New York City Jazz Record and DownBeat has enabled him to sustain active involvement in two of his passions: music and writing.