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Sandi Shoemake: Sophisticated Lady

Like Barbara Morrison, Sandi Shoemake has been pounding the California pavement for decades without near enough recognition. Where, though, Morrison is all fire and heat, Shoemake is the quintessence of laidback, West Coast cool. She and husband Charlie, the venerable vibe master, wed in 1959 but spent the first decade-and-a-half of married life following divergent musical paths–she as a studio singer, backing Andy Williams, Doris Day, Bing Crosby and others on various TV series and specials, and as Nelson Riddle’s featured vocalist; he working with the likes of Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin and spending close to seven years with the George Shearing Quintet.

But since 1973 the Shoemakes have remained professionally intertwined, appearing on one another’s albums and regularly performing together at the Hamlet in the coastal burg of Cambria they call home. For this, Sandi’s first disc since 2000’s live Lullaby in Rhythm, Charlie, who triples as music director and arranger, teams with several of the left coast’s finest–guitarist Bruce Forman, trombonist Andy Martin, percussionist Paul Kreibich, flutist Sam Most, bassists Luther Hughes and the late Bob Maize–to provide her with ideally tailored settings for 11 sturdy standards. Sandi responds with typical dexterity, effortlessly traveling from the playful suggestive bounce of the too-rarely covered “A Rainy Night in Rio” and retro pep of “The Music Has Stopped” to the swelling desire of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed.”

Originally Published