A native of Seattle who also currently makes his home in the “Emerald City,” Jeff Kashiwa’s love affair with music began in junior high (when he saw the still popular Chuck Mangione and Spyro Gyra in concert) and reached its full expression as he became one of the most compelling saxophonists in contemporary jazz with The Rippingtons. Performing hundreds of Ripps gigs all over the world, he appeared on many of the band’s classic recordings, including Welcome to the St. James Club, Curves Ahead, Weekend in Monaco, Sahara, Black Diamond and Live in L.A. during his first run with the band, and 20th Anniversary, Modern Art and Cote d’Azur since he rejoined the fold in the mid-2000s.
Having established himself as one of contemporary jazz’s most renowned and diverse saxmen in his initial decade long tenure with The Rippingtons in the 1990s, Kashiwa’s instincts over the past few years have led to some of the most dynamic endeavors of his career. While resuming a nearly full time recording and touring association with The Ripps, he has continued performing with his own band and touring as a member of The Sax Pack, featuring Steve Cole and the trio’s newest member, saxophonist Marcus Anderson.
Kashiwa has also expanded into the realm of music education, teaching various courses (on site and online) through Shoreline Community College near his home in Seattle. These include the ensemble class Funk & Groove (teaching students the music of legends like Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire) and online courses in music technology (MIDI sequencing, MIDI drum programming, etc.) “Teaching is a very different world than performing,” he says, “but I enjoy both atmospheres very much and see that there are certain overlapping elements, especially the discipline it takes to excel. Moving back and forth between these realms makes each experience unique and refreshing.”
Discipline lies at the heart of the ten track flow of Let It Ride, with Kashiwa hunkering down for that week and a half and letting the music take over, composing melodies on his keyboard with no second guessing or fear of new tunes not measuring up to his catalog of successful work. After co-writing much of the material on his previous solo project and his last CD with The Sax Pack, he enjoyed the process of writing by himself. “Singing the melody” that his sax would eventually play, he drew from a large musical well to create a project that was both full of rhythmic and melodic variety but cohesive as a whole.