2015 Healdsburg Jazz Festival – Day 10

George Cables, Essiet Essiet, Victor Lewis with guest Craig Handy

Purchase ticketsWhen: Sunday, June 7
Where: Raven Theater, 115 North Street, Healdsburg
Time: 7:00 pm
Reserved Tickets: $50 | $30
Event Sponsor: Voigt Family Sculpture Foundation

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George Cables Trio

George Cables (photo by Terrance Jennings)
George Cables (photo by Terrance Jennings)

Part of the elite cadre of great living jazz pianists, George Cables is one of those flexible jazz notables who has shared the stage with some of the greatest of jazz legends—including Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Sarah Vaughan, Art Blakey, and Dizzy Gillespie—but who has also made a bold name for himself as a leader, often in trio form. His discography, as leader, goes back to the late ‘70s, including the notable early title Cables’ Vision, in cahoots with a band including his sometimes leader Freddie Hubbard, Ernie Watts and Peter Erskine.

Nimble as a fiery bop and hard bop player, lyrical as a ballad player and with the right touch in gospel-ish, and jazz-ified pop or soul mode, Cables has proven himself to have a handle on the right thing in whatever mode he works in, by degrees of expression, musical heat and personal vision. On Sunday, Cables will fill the role as a fitting finale to the 2015 festival, leading a trio of impressive players in their own right, veteran drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Essiet Essiet—with whom he recorded the dazzling 2012 album My Muse, along with Lewis–and here, with the auspicious addition Craig Handy on saxophone.

Essiet Essiet
Essiet Essiet

Cables has developed a strong, telepathic connection with Lewis, a mainstay of jazz drumming since the ‘80s, and the in-demand, ever-flexible Essiet. Stretching into quartet mode, the Healdsburg show will feature stellar saxophonist Handy, the Oakland-born player who has become an important figure in modern saxophone since moving to NYC in the ‘80s, playing with Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Herbie Hancock, and with a discography of his own running through last year’s album for the revived Okeh label, Craig Handy & 2nd Line Smith, with cameos by Wynton Marsalis and his old collaborator Bridgewater.

Victor Lews
Victor Lewis

Cables’ roots in jazz history, wealth of musical involvement with jazz greats and his celebrated sensitivity in whatever situation he finds himself in came together beautifully in a critically-acclaimed album from last year, Icons and Influences. On a dozen well-chosen tracks, Cables pays tribute to his heroes, from pianists like Cedar Walton, Duke Ellington, and colleague Mulgrew Miller (with the tune “Farewell Mulgrew”) to Nat King Cole—as vocalist—and saxophone legends John Coltrane and Joe Henderson, all of whom feed into the broad vocabulary Cables brings to the piano.

Craig Handy
Craig Handy

In the New York Times, Ben Ratliff cited Cables’ Icons and Influences as one of the top albums of 2014, calling is “a quiet, alert and exemplary new trio record, partly a goodbye to musician friends who’ve recently slipped away, partly an index of his heroes. It’s personal, not historical, joyful but not grandiose.” In writing about the 2012 album My Muse, NPR’s Kevin Whitehead noted that “the trio polishes its music to a high gloss, so you could underestimate it if you think jazz always needs a healthy dose of grit to stay real. My Muse is so unassumingly good, you could miss just how good it is. It gives good taste a good name.”

Expect to hear music from these two recordings and several other Cables “Classics” that we have come to love.