As a former contributing member of The Rippingtons, Jeff Kashiwa became a highly popularized saxophonist who exhibited a wealth of jazz activated talent. When he struck out on his own as a solo artist, smooth jazz was enhanced even more by his endearing melodic sound. Since striking out on his own, Jeff has recorded four albums and has wowed the jazz world many times over. In addition, he has collaborated as a sideman for numerous artists as he honed his skills as a leader. His latest release entitled ‘Play’ on the Native Language Record label does in fact strike a progressive chord towards a form of rebirth as a musician.
For this release, Jeff revisits his band Coastal Access with a finely tuned display of artistic intent and compositional insight. In addition Kashiwa invites keyboardist Russell Ferrante of The Yellowjackets and percussionist Lenny Castro to complete the circle of events towards the release of ‘Play.’ Often times, smooth jazz artists are stifled by their inability to stretch their creative imagination, due in part to a lack of improvisational spontaneity that is imposed upon them by self-serving bean counters and commercial radio influences. But this time out, Jeff Kashiwa runs the gamut of contemporary, traditional and smooth jazz ideology, thus releasing him from commercially imposed prison confinement. One track in particular that introduces the CD entitled “Intro” highlights an unaccustomed style seldom seen from Kashiwa, while opening the door to a multifaceted array of enhanced musicality.
‘Play’ is a release highlighted by soulful jams, extenuating grooves and percussive licks. By most standards of interpretation, this is an atypical Jeff Kashiwa release. It has all the trappings of a jam packed musical adventure into the annals of retro contemporary jazz. What stands out the most is “the funk, the whole funk” as Parliament Funkadelic would say. The one track that comes to mind entitled “Forever,” a funk fest filled with toe-tapping rhythms. By and large, everything about ‘Play’ has an unheralded Jeff Kashiwa signature, one that is a definite standout and displays jazz of a different sort. Either way this is one of the best releases to date, especially so in an environment where jazz and commercial radio do not always agree on what is artistic impressionism at its finest.
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