When George Cables was going to school in New York City he used to walk the streets at night, taking in the cosmopolitan sights and sounds, mentally recording his encounters with so many different kinds of people. In his musical career as well, Cables has prowled sidestreets and main thoroughfares in relative anonymity, absorbing countless influences into his personal style.
Born in New York City on November 14, 1944, Cables was classically trained as a youth and when he started at the High School of Performing Arts, he admittedly didn't know anything about jazz. But he was soon smitten with the potential for freedom of expression he heard in jazz.
The young Cables was impressed by such keyboardists as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. But, he points out, I never really listened to pianists when I was coming up. I would probably say I've been more influenced by Miles or Trane and their whole bands rather than by any single pianist. The concept of the music is more important than listening to somebody's chops, somebody's technique, the Way Miles' band held together, it was just like magic. You were transported to another world.
Cables attended Mannes College of Music for two years and by 1964 he was playing in a band called The Jazz Samaritans which included such rising stars as Billy Cobham, Lenny White, and Clint Houston. Gigs around New York at the Top of the Gate, Slugs, and other clubs attracted attention to Cables' versatility and before long he had recorded with tenor saxophonist Paul Jeffrey, played on Max Roach's Lift Every Voice and Sing, and earned a brief 1969 tenure at the piano bench with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.