Charlie Shoemake is a master vibist, and teacher of jazz improvisation. Clarinet and big band great Artie Shaw says, “In jazz, there have been only a few great players on the vibraphone. One of them is Charlie Shoemake.” Jazz writer Leonard Feather on Charlie Shoemake, “Arguably the most successful teacher of jazz improvisation in Southern California history, Shoemake is also a highly charged mallet man capable of blistering solos off the metronome markings.” Charlie Shoemake began his piano studies at the age of 6, and was excellent at both music and sports through his school years. Charlie was an all-city baseball player and scouted by the Saint Louis Cardinals. Charlie attended Southern Methodist University, and majored in piano and played baseball, but by 1956 decided to pursue music moving from Texas to LA and embarked on a career in jazz music. Through the late 1950’s Charlie studied and practiced to master the music concepts of jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and other greats like Fats Navarro, Kenny Dorham, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Sonny Stitt, Phil Woods, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, and Sonny Clark. Charlie studied harmony with pianist Jimmy Rowles, and through the 1960’s accompanied singers and performed on recorded commercials. It was in 1959 Charlie married his wife Sandi and together they did studio work, TV, and commercial work. In the early 60’s Charlie got inspiration and support from Victor Feldman, and worked for composers Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin. In 1966 Charlie was invited to play with the George Shearing Quintet while listening to the group at Shelley’s Manne Hole. For the next 7 years Charlie would play in Shearing’s Quintet with other notable jazz artists like Joe Pass, Pat Martino, Ron Anthony, Andy Simpkins, Harvey Mason, Stix Hooper, and Vernel Fournier. After this Charlie opened a jazz improvisation school in LA, and with his wife Sandi raised his son. Till 1990 Charlie taught over 1500 jazz players and is credited for helping the success of many jazz musicians careers like Ted Nash, Tim Armacost, Andy Martin, Kye Palmer, Cecilia Coleman, Keith Sanders, Dave Koz, and Richard Elliott. Moving to Cambria California the Shoemake’s performed 500 concerts over the next 20 years at the Hamlet Restaurant through 2012. The Shoemake’s have continued to actively perform in the Cambria area, and in 2012 Charlie established a jazz school called Central Coast Jazz Institute, a 501C3 non-profit organization. As the schools director Charlie right away had four of his students named The Best Community Jazz Combo in the U.S. by Downbeat Magazine. Charlie states, “As for my playing career I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities to play with so many of America’s greatest jazz musicians, and as for my teaching years the continuing achievements of so many of my former students has been extremely meaningful.”
Vocalist Sandi Shoemake is a beautiful phraser, and sings with a pristine, controlled, warm, pure, and imaginative style. Sandi’s early career was singing with school choirs, her fathers’ dance bands, and at LA City College with Bob Florence, Jim Hall, Gary Peacock, and Lanny Morgan. Sandi joined the Si Zentner Orchestra where they became well-known performing at the Hollywood Palladium. Sandi sang in nightclubs with Charlie, and did studio work for NBC from 1965-1971, and also appeared on many CBS and ABC TV shows that included Andy Williams, Jerry Lewis, Red Skelton, the Lennon Sisters and Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Dean Martin, and Nelson Riddle. Sandi’s singing influences include Connie Boswell, Helen Forrest, Doris Day, Sarah Vaughn, Jackie Cain, Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, David Allyn, and Billie Eckstine. The Shoemake’s have recorded 19 albums, and Charlie performed on Clint Eastwood’s film “Bird”.
The LA Times says, “Joe Bagg is a masterful organist”, and “A highly refined player with a light touch, who listens”, by Downbeat Magazine. Joe studied with pianist Kenny Barron and received his Masters’ Degree at Rutgers University. Joe has worked as a Russian Linguist in the army in Germany, and has been a fixture on the LA jazz scene for over the last 20 years. Joe has received numerous recognitions by Downbeat’s critics and readers’ polls, and performed on Clint Eastwood’s movies “J. Edgar”, and “Jersey Boys”. Joe has worked as a sideman for dozens of prominent jazz artists, has taught at colleges and universities, and currently teaches at the Musicians Institute. Joe is an in-demand performer and studio recording artist, and has performed on over 40 CD recordings.
Guitarist and educator Frank Potenza is a protégé of the great Joe Pass, and has recorded 9 solo albums, one being a tribute album “For Joe”. Frank has toured with the Gene Harris Quartet for 5 years, and has performed with many jazz artists, performed solo concerts, and leads his own groups. Frank is a professor and chair of the guitar program at USC’s Thornton School of Music. Frank received his Bachelors’ Degree from Berklee College of Music, and a Masters’ Degree from Cal State Los Angeles. Frank has produced 3 jazz guitar instructional videos, was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame, and produced a Jazzumentary honoring Joe Pass entitled “A Not So Average Joe”.
Luther Hughes is a bassist, band leader, composer, educator, record producer, and music publisher of Primrose Lane Music. Luther trained at the University of Cincinnati’s Conservatory of Music, and received a Bachelors’ Degree at Cal State Long Beach. Luther leads three distinct jazz groups, the Cannonball-Coltrane Project, Luther Hughes and Friends Remembering the Nat King Cole Trio, and H.E.R.K. (Hughes, Eschete, Ranier, Kreibich). Luther has taught at several colleges and universities, played with over 100 top jazz artists, has performed musical theatre on stage, played on film and TV scores, and has played on nearly 100 CD recordings. Luther has played with a dozen top jazz big bands, performed with pop, rock, and country artists, and has appeared at over a dozen jazz festivals. Luther has also broadcasted jazz on 88.1 FM at Cal State Long Beach.
Drummer Paul Kreibich began the drums at the age of 9, and began working five nights a week on Balboa Island while attending high school. Paul studied at the Berklee College of Music, and Orange Coast College with percussion teacher Forest Clark. Paul joined the Vince Wallace Quintet, worked for the Continental Circus, toured with Carmen McRae, studied with Fred Gruber at LA City College, and has played in Japan, at Carnegie Hall, and toured with the Ray Charles Band. Paul has been a first call drummer, and played on over 60 CD recordings. Paul toured with the Gene Harris Quartet, has two CD recordings as a leader, and has taught at Cal State Fullerton, USC, and Valley College. Paul plays the drums with crisp rhythm, well executed licks, and compliments other musicians by filling the holes with his loose and groovy feel. Paul always plays with sensitivity, and a sympathetic feeling that is supportive, amiable, and personable.