Jeff Kashiwa | Back In The Day

Jeff Kashiwa – Back In The Day

Listen to song samples from “Back In The Day” on our Jazz page by clicking here!


When you are hired by a major entertainment organization to
represent them in all-star college band, it is an extreme honor to interact
with a future generation of elite music makers. 
When that same group asks you back to teach another generation of
musicians, that’s extra validation in one’s musical adeptness.  Those two aforementioned statements apply to
Jeff Kashiwa, a well-versed saxophonist that is easily at home with nearly any
genre.  His main claim to fame was his
stint during the nineties with The Rippingtons, a fusion band that meshed
world, ambient, and other tones into their jazz phrasing.  The band was also a solid breeding ground for
world class saxophonists like Dave Koz, Eric Marienthal, and Kenny G.   To mark the band’s twentieth anniversary in
2006, former members including Kashiwa,
joined The Ripps on an extensive tour. 
Of course, many of his loyal fans know his reputation with The Sax Pack,
a recent collaboration with Steve Cole and Kim Waters, who add extra funk and
soul layers to Kashiwa’s
sweet manner.


Before he established his professional success, Kashiwa was attracted to
the gurus’ of what eventually grew to be the smooth jazz movement: Chuck
Mangione and Spryo Gyra.  Yet Kashiwa got his feet wet during
his college days playing with the ska band, The Untouchables.  The Seattle, Washington native added to his musical languages by
learning about back to basics jazz theory at The Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.   The Disney Organization recognized this
apparent talent by choosing Kashiwa
as part of The Disney’s All-American College Band.  Because of his strong belief in the education
system and a gigantic heart for students, Kashiwa
was invited back by Disney as an instructor for the same band.  After transferring to Cal State Long Beach,
he looked to CSLB’s saxophone teacher Leo Potts for guidance on tonal
concepts.  Ever the consummate musician,
he also refers to the modern jazz great Stan Getz, a masterful practitioner of
melodic playing, one of Kashiwa’s
standing trademarks.


When he first scored on the charts in 2000 with his top ten
entry, Hyde Park (The Aah Ooh Song), Kashiwa’s
star with the smooth jazz community rose sharply.  Sometimes, just like The Rippingtons, he will
depart from the box to let down his musical guard.   His 2007 release, Play, a tour-de-force of
roots jazz, reggae, rock, and so much more beyond the occasionally safe smooth
jazz confines, finds Kashiwa
bouncing ideas off his long time band Coastal Access.  


Just recently, Kashiwa
released his greatest hits package, The Very Best of on his long time
label, Native Language.  Now with
Shanachie Entertainment, label home of The Sax Pack, his latest disc Back
In The Day
offers magnificent technical skill, what anyone should
expect from a passionate student and music clinician.  There are also some funky strokes and
uncluttered melodic lines on “When It Feels Good” – the title track; “You’re The
and “Creepin’.”  The closing piece,
“Honesty,” boasts Kashiwa’s
warm expressive strengths on tender ballads. 
The positive aspects, however, are weighed down by the uninspired vocal
track “Somethin’ Real;” the musical backgrounds which are stuck in neutral gear
as the project progresses; and those dreaded robotic drum programs that can
strip the power of the rhythm section in a heartbeat. 


This disc certainly can not be classified as a complete dud,
but some of Kashiwa’s work in the past fares better as a whole, especially the
risky musical formats and band camaraderie behind Play.  Taking into account all of the elements of Back
In The Day
, I will say it is an average effort at best.  Here’s hoping for his upcoming recordings
that the all-star quality in Kashiwa
will make future musical generations proud by stretching his improvisational
voice and deemphasizing those mechanized beats.   


Peggy Oliver

The Urban Music Scene

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