By Holli Harms

The hostess at the beautiful Smoke Jazz Club welcomed us to the first evening of George Cables Quartet residency with the apt words, “You are very lucky to be here!” and man was she right.

I have heard jazz bands over my lifetime, all good, some great, and some like George Cables Quartet – otherworldly.

Four men play the same instruments as others play and yet what they conjure up is unique, it is as if the instruments are their own voices that they can control with the slightest shift of tone, of volume, and together they blend and create one bigger, beautiful voice full of both sound and fury.

I was truly hearing how music can transform itself within a single composition, with instruments alive and taking over the room and their players.

They opened the evening with that jazz standard “I Should Care.” They built on the melody, broke it down, and rebuilt it again and again. Each member takes their solo and then effortlessly flows back into the ensemble.

“Helen’s Story” opens as an introduction of sounds fit for a queen, a fairy, a romantic character of myth and history. Here is George’s piano brilliance flying solo, we need nothing more. As George’s fingers flowed over keys someone next to me said aloud, “He’s badass!!!” Indeed! You want to dive into this pure delicious sound.

The quartet features saxophonist Craig Handy, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Jerome Jennings and they are perfection personified.

The evening was one of the best I have spent with music and a feeling as if the music were a living being. A good friend conversing with me as angels might.

The Smoke Jazz and Supper Club is a beautiful intimate space with delicious food, wonderful servers, and exceptional artists, a night out in New York not to be missed.

George Cables Quartet playing at the Smoke Jazz Club Mar 30-Apr 2. Get your ticket and allow yourself to be swept up into the clouds.

When: Wednesday-Sunday @ 7:00 p.m. + 9:00 p.m. and additional 10:30 p.m. (Fri & Sat only). Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

Where: SMOKE, 2751 Broadway (between 105/106th Streets),
New York, NY, Train: 1 to 103rd Street.

Masks are not required.