Go with the flow. Trust your instincts. Let It
Ride. Saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa uses that mindset with his session of
all-original music (Native Language Records, 2012).
Though Kashiwa has released seven previous recordings as a solo artist,
he is perhaps best known for his work with The Rippingtons. The release
of Let It Ride coincides with a hectic tour schedule, in which
Kashiwa is a featured soloist with the Rippingtons and a trio known as
the Sax Pack. Several stars appear as guests, including Rippingtons
guitarist Russ Freeman, Spyro Gyra keyboardist Tom Schuman and pianist
Kashiwa takes to the soprano sax and keyboard on “Stomp,” a piece that
begins as if it’s going to of the electronica mode, but then quickly
shifts to something more groove-oriented. Melvin Davis contributes a
cool bass line, with other assistance by Chuck Loeb on guitar, Dave
Hooper on drums and Ronnie Guitierrez on percussion. Kashiwa’s
free-spirited lead carries the piece. Loeb gets to stretch out some
toward the end.
“The Name Game” is an easygoing groove, featuring Kashiwa on the tenor.
Nicholas Cole steps in on keyboard, with Allen Hinds on guitar and Andre
Berry on bass. The song has a slight, R&B vibe to it. Kashiwa’s middle
solo brings to mind the sound popularized by Grover Washington Jr.,
particularly songs like “Just the Two of Us.” The sidemen are mostly in
the background as Kashiwa expresses himself freely.
Schuman plays organ on the sassy “Hot Tin Roof.” The title is a
fictional speak easy or juke joint with southern seasoning. Perhaps an
inadvertent nod to Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. As he does
on several tracks, Kashiwa layers the sax lead with additional horns.
Schuman and Hinds take turns with stunning solos.
Of the project, Kashiwa says he plays the music like he is playing live,
breaking from his studio tendency to keep solos short and neat. Rather
than sticking rigidly to what was written, he allowed the mood to lead
him into other directions. The result is a fine album of fun, energetic
and engaging music.