Charlie Shoemake is a veteran vibraphonist who is better known among fellow musicians than the average jazz listener, but he has plenty to say on his instrument. Utilizing four different lineups during the early-2002 studio sessions that make up this CD, Shoemake has put together something special. With guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Bob Maize, he revives Bob Brookmeyer's "Open Country," a cool-toned bop anthem that was a favorite of Gerry Mulligan; he also updates a song that was huge hit for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, "South of the Border," though his version is a bit brisker and with far better solos. With tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, bassist Luther Hughes, and drummer Paul Kreibich, he saunters through Horace Silver's tasty blues "Creepin' In" and a blues Shoemake wrote and recorded decades earlier, "Blue Shoe Revisited." Forman takes Holloway's place in the next session, which includes an intricate interpretation of John Coltrane's "Straight Street." The last date is a trio with Hughes and Kreibich, playing the soft Johnny Mercer ballad "Moon Dreams" and powering through the long-forgotten chestnut "Beyond the Blue Horizon." Each of the four different casts sounds as polished as a regularly working group, with outstanding solos and terrific interaction on every track. Like earlier Charlie Shoemake releases, this highly recommended disc will stand the test of time.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden