LET’S START THE YEAR WITH MORE THAN ONE!***ROTW***HIGH NOTE PIANO PLAYING-George Cables: My Muse, Harold Mabern: Mr. Lucky: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.

Ya know, I really don’t ask for much in life. If you’ve got peace with God, a good family, a handful of faithful friends, a roof over your head and food on the table, you’re ahead of the game in my book. Same with music: I don’t need too much-good tunes, graceful playing, creative ideas and I’m good to go. These two releases by vets of the 88s exemplify all I need to sonically survive.


George Cables has played with everyone who needs to be played with, most notably Freddie Hubbard. Here, he works with the stellar team of Essiet/b and Victor Lewis/dr for a collection of gloriously gorgeous standards like “You’re My Everything” and “My One And Only Love,” and making the ivories sing like Placido Domingo. He’s go the heart of a bopper in his carpals, and the underlying swing of “Hey, It’s Me You’re Talkin’ To” and “My Old Flame” keep the chestnuts roasting. He does a couple solo pieces as well, sounding elegiac on “Lullabye” and late night romantic on “I Loves You Porgy.” I’m not sure what more you’re going to want from a  pianist, as this guy covers the waterfront.


Then, you’ve got a guy like Tyner-inspired pianist Harold Mabern coming up with the brilliant idea of running through the songbook of the REAL “Mr. Entertainment” (no matter what they say about the “Gloved One”). Mabern brings together the rough and ready tenor of Eric Alexander as well as the thriving team of John Webber/b and Joe Farnsworth/dr for an impressive collection of Rat Pack tunes. Alexander sounds like a young Dexter Gordon, with a sound full of macho exuberance and bopping swing on material like “Mr. Lucky”  and “Something’s Gotta Give” while Mabern’s touch is classier than Robert Goulet’s mustache on ”The People Tree” and “Soft Shoe Trainin’ With Sammy.” A solo reading of “Hey There” would bring even The Sands to a whisper. This is just some of the best quartet playing of mainstream jazz you’re going to hear for the next few months. Are these guys EVER coming to LA?

High Note Records


Leave a Reply