I've Got My Own Album To Do: George Cables - "Cables' Vision"

George Cables • Cables' Vision • 1980 • Contemporary 14001
Recorded December 17, 18 & 19 in Hollywood, CA

The Selections:

The Players:

George Cables - Piano, Electric Piano
Freddie Hubbard - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Ernie Watts - Tenor Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute
Bobby Hutcherson - Vibes
Tony Dumas - Bass, Electric Bass
Peter Erskine - Drums
Vince Charles - Percussion

The Tracks:

A1. Morning Song
A2. I Told You So
A3. Byrdlike
B1. Voodoo Lady
B2. The Stroll
B3. Inner Glow

The Record:


George Cables was everywhere during the 1970s, appearing alongside an abundance of legendary players on all manner of jazz albums. Some of those LPs - Blackstone LegacyKeep Your Soul TogetherMontara - rate as classics and are all-time faves of mine from the era. Once you get to know the many albums Cables appeared on, they are unimaginable with any other player on the keys, which might be the greatest compliment one can pay to a musician. Cables playing is fluid, funky, melodic and sublime - sometimes all at once - and he was expert at laying down a framework that kept the new electric jazz sound grounded in a classic improvisational setting.

Cables' Vision was actually his first outing as a leader, and for the occasion Cables called upon a couple of friends he had played often with in the previous decade, who just also happened to be two legends from jazz's classic period that were still recording on a regular basis. Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson clearly knew of Cables' talents from working with him, and as such it's no big surprise they would lend their talents to his debut record. Obviously they shine, Hubbard was coming off some sub-par commercial recordings for Columbia and Hutcherson was messing around with latin rhythms (quite succesfully I might add), so the opportunity to play some straight-up jazz let them show off their considerable skills.

Cables At Home in 2010 (Photo By Lisa Kyle)

The album is a mix of moody electric jazz and modern jazz, with a few songs that stray awfully close to a sound that would soon be known as "soft jazz", but the high caliber of the players keeps the proceedings from veering completely into that unfortunate realm. The album opener "Morning Song" is one of the strongest tracks on the album, a spacious and spiritual song written by Cables that reminds the listener of the strongest of the CTI electric recordings from the early '70s. Hubbard's solo on "Morning Song" is wonderful and reminds us all why he is one of the greatest jazz cats to ever pick up a trumpet. Directly following the opening number is "I Told You So", which lets the group play in a more traditional classic jazz framework, with a nice upbeat theme laid down by Cables and the rhythm section that acts as a great showcase for Hutcherson's skills on the vibes. These two songs, both written by Cables, illustrate the varying sounds on Cables' Vision and how it brilliantly looks forward while still respecting jazz's illustrious past [listen to both tracks above].

George Cables as Sideman • Selected Discography:

Now! • Bobby Hutcherson • 1969 • Blue Note Records

At The Lighthouse • Joe Henderson • 1970 • Milestone Records

Blackstone Legacy • Woody Shaw • 1970 • Contemporary Records

If You're Not Part Of The Problem... • Joe Henderson • 1970 • Milestone Records

In Pursuit Of Blackness • Joe Henderson • 1971 • Milestone Records

Song of Songs • Woody Shaw • 1972 • Contemporary Records

Keep Your Soul Together • Freddie Hubbard • 1973 • CTI Records

Gleam • Freddie Hubbard • 1975 • Columbia Records 

Montara • Bobby Hutcherson • 1975 • Blue Note Records

Polar AC • Freddie Hubbard • 1975 • CTI Records

Waiting • Bobby Hutcherson • 1976 • Blue Note Records

The Complete Village Vanguard Sessions • Art Pepper • 1977 • Contemporary Records

Music Is My Sanctuary • Gary Bartz • 1977 • Blue Note Records

Woody III • Woody Shaw • 1978 • CBS Records

Un Poco Loco • Bobby Hutcherson • 1979 • Columbia Records

The Vinyl:

My copy is an original pressing from 1980, and I know for a fact it is in Near Mint Plus condition, because I bought it sealed off eBay (for a measly $11). It is typical late-period thinner vinyl, so it was important to me to find a clean copy. These vintage pressings do not age well once groove wear sets in, and it didn't seem to take much to get to that point (I'm sure the mass produced cheapo turntables that most people had in those days didn't help at all).

There are a ridiculous number of markings in the vinyl trail-off, none of which make a whole lot of sense. Side 1 is all hand-etched with:

"LKS 355 - D3 +"
"SLM L1 +"
"CBS - SM"
and a single number "6"

Side 2 is just as crowded, with:

"LKS 356 D2A + "
"SLM +" (stamped this side)
"∆232 - X"
"A 2 12"

Cables' Vision comes highly recommended to the many fans of Hubbard and Hutcherson, the two heavyweights on the album, but also to anyone who is unfamiliar with the outstanding talents of Cables himself. He is criminally underrated, no doubt due to the bulk of his best work appearing in the '70s, but a wider audience for albums like Cables' Vision could certainly change that in a hurry.