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Jeff Kashiwa

One of the most diverse, in demand sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Jeff Kashiwa finds pure joy at the heart of his increasingly fast-paced touring schedule by reminding himself, every time he gets on stage, that he’s there to do one thing: Play!

Over the last few years, he’s been doing just that to the tune of almost 100 performances annually, bringing his trademark exuberance to gigs with his longtime band Coastal Access, shows across the country with The Sax Pack (featuring fellow genre A-listers Steve Cole & Kim Waters), dates in the U.S. and England with Acoustic Alchemy and others with Chuck Loeb. Last year, he also reunited with The Rippingtons – whom he originally recorded and toured with from 1990-99 – for the group’s 20th Anniversary Tour; he will be joining his former band for many dates this Summer as well.

Play is also the definitive, one word answer that came to Kashiwa’s mind when he thought about what he truly wanted to do on his fourth CD for Native Language Music. “I asked myself, what am I trying to say, and how do I feel?” he says. “I think I’m simply conveying that I’m beyond playing it safe and keeping the spectrum limited to one color. I don’t want to hold my breath and be so polite. I wanted more of a group vibe and to go back to just having fun. The songs cover a lot of stylistic territory, from funky pop to more classic traditional jazz. They’re all part of my new definition of Play: To be free. To engage in joyful activity. We just got in the studio and said, let’s play. Let’s really play!"

With that mission statement in mind, Play is the spot-on perfect title for Kashiwa’s most adventurous recording to date, reflecting not only his spirited performances on the tenor--beginning with the wild and unexpected 56-second minute improvisational intro “Play! (Prologue)”--but also his loose, high-energy interaction with an exciting ensemble of musicians who are all longtime friends and colleagues.

The emotional core of Play is the eight Kashiwa-produced tracks recorded live at his label's new recording studios in San Clemente, CA – Sounden Studios – with his band Coastal Access, an approach that recalls the saxophonist’s m.o. on his second Native Language release, 2002’s Simple Truth. In addition to longtime members Allen Hinds (guitar), Melvin Davis (bass) and Dave Hooper (drums), the saxman brought in legendary Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante to play sparkling acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, along with famed percussionist Lenny Castro.

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Let It Ride

Native Language
2012

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Back In the Day

Shanachie Records
2009

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The Sax Pack

Shanachie Records
2008

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Peace Of Mind

Native Language
2004

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