Vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake is a talented musician who has unfortunately slipped under the radar of far too many jazz critics and broadcasters, let alone getting sufficient exposure to the average jazz fan. Because many of his recordings, such as this CD, have been for smaller labels, this can explain (but not excuse) this oversight. Shoemake is an accomplished player who can play hot tempos with the best of them, but often resorts to a lower volume than one might expect, and fewer notes, allowing his music more breathing room. There are many treasures within this small group recording. Five tracks feature Shoemake in a trio with guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Bob Maize, of which their dazzling opening interpretation of Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae" and the easygoing samba arrangement of "It Happened in Monterey" are high points. Shoemake is joined on the second session by two-thirds of the late Gene Harris' last rhythm section, bassist Luther Hughes and drummer Paul Kreibich; the trio delivers a smoking rendition of "On the Alamo" and gears down to explore the intricacies of Kenny Drew's "Contour," a soft bop gem. Alto saxophonist Charles McPherson joins the latter trio for the exotic "Lands End" and the sizzling "Two Bass Hit" from Dizzy Gillespie's big-band book. Steer your eyes away from the full color glossy magazine ads of the major jazz labels for a moment and check out this CD; with Lands End, you'll hit pay dirt.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden