Jeff Kashiwa

Walkamile

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On the subject of saxmen whose moonlighting on other instruments raises their versatility level, Jeff Kashiwa (best known from his work with the Rippingtons) takes a few well planned, expertly navigated detours from his trips to soprano and alto funkytown on his second solo effort, Walkamile. The destinations include the gently rolling samba, "Rise," which counterpoints Kashiwa's alto flute with Marc Antoine's plucky classical guitar, and "August Moon," which cleverly alternates flute, EWI, and soprano sax to convey subtle emotions on one verse, a more hard hitting declaration the next. Kashiwa is maturing as both a player and writer, with compositions ranging slightly out of the smooth jazz realm into Latin and throbbing hip-hop territories every so often. Exploring this diversity makes one wonder how much more interesting a band the Ripps would be if leader Russ Freeman (who makes a cameo, along with a few by Ripps percussionist Steve Reid) would allow a tune or two from one of his cohorts into the mix. On the other hand, if Kashiwa had such artistic freedom in his day job, he might not have this promising solo career to show what he's really made of.

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