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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.

Originally Published