Vibist Carl Leukaufe, a Chicago jazz scene veteran, was half a century into his playing career when he made his recording debut as a leader with the 1996 release Warrior. It's an engaging set of mainstream bop that gives Leukaufe deserved exposure. Happy to submit to comparison with his contemporary, Milt Jackson, Leukaufe shares Bag's fluid, deceptively easygoing style, although his facility as an improviser is a notch behind Jackson's legendary abilities in this department. The session is equally noteworthy as a group effort: the personalities of the two groups here with Leukaufe shine through to bring a good measure of distinctiveness to the performances of mostly bop standards. Pianist Jodie Christian's elegant chops and tenor player Lin Halliday's vintage tone (out of Don Byas via Sonny Rollins) are featured on five tracks, including good versions of Rollins' "Airegin," Miles Davis' "Veird Blues," and the standard "Star Eyes." Joe Iaco is the pianist in the other group, which also includes the fine trombonist Kevin Quail; both are heard to good effect on a languid version of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" and a welcome airing of Oscar Pettiford's "Tricotism." There are also a handful of good originals: one each from the leader, Iaco, and drummer Robert Barry. The familiar paths traveled on Warrior may not offer new vistas, but the playing is strong and committed, the sound is good, and the tracks pulse with a vitality that keeps the music fresh and energized.