Exhibiting his customary spirit and sparkle, pianist George Cables led a trio through an engaging set of standards at the Loa Thursday, showering the crowd with bouquets of colorful notes.
As usual, an upbeat sense of fun and enjoyment permeated the work of Cables, who has been in bands led by the likes of Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and Bobby Hutcherson. He opened "You Stepped Out of a Dream" with a Caribbean-flavored vamp, then delivered the tune in a loping manner that was as much a playful mood as it was a hard-swinging groove.
In his solo, he mixed relaxed, crisp ideas with bright, flowery swatches, dashing from dancing octave lines to a single note, hammered 20 times repeatedly, to smooth ascending passages that were followed by tumble-down clusters. This shifting style could sometimes be more effective if one direction were emphasized over another, but overall it's a style that's very musical and that results in congenial foot-tapping.
"Con Alma" was marked by a Cables solo replete with soft, lulling tones and roaring glissandi, all of which contrasted sharply with John Clayton's succinct bass solo, where well-chosen, well-spaced notes spoke volumes. Here and elsewhere, drummer Sherman Ferguson underpinned the proceedings with class and restraint, and in his solos, he was so melodic one could easily pick out phrases from the tune he was playing.
A Gershwin medley--including a funky, slow "Summertime" and a soulful "Bess, You Is My Woman"--and an explosive "All the Things You Are" rounded out Cables' energized, attractive performance. He closes tonight.