Friday, April 24, 2015

The Sax Pack - "Power Of 3" - Release on Shanachie #jazz

Featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters & Steve Cole

Throughout the history of popular American culture, a few icons have stood the test of time on first name alone…like Frank, Sammy and Dean…the Rat Pack of course!  Adored and revered for their unparalleled musical abilities, camaraderie, humor, good looks, charm and wit, these three gentlemen raised the bar for an entire new generation of entertainers.  In the world of jazz, there are three saxophonists who have set out to do just the same – that’s Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole…The Sax Pack! “We have always had a  ‘whole greater than the sum of its parts’ effect,” confides Steve Cole.  Jeff Kashiwa shares, “I want to show the audience how much fun we have backstage and bring it on stage!” Kim Waters adds, “We have different styles, but when we get together we gel in an incredible way.” The sheer musicality, charisma and enjoyment generated by the chart-topping Sax Pack is undeniable. Their success at radio and demand on cruises and at festivals is a testament to the excitement they generate when they step on the scene. April 14, 2015 Shanachie Entertainment will release The Sax Pack’s third CD for the label, Power of 3, marking the all-star unit’s 10th Anniversary.

“I think when all three of us are together sharing the stage something magical happens,” states tenorman Jeff Kashiwa. “In the studio the chemistry between the three of us results in music that no one of us could create. There is a fourth sound that is created when we play together. We understand how to blend with each other and how to support one another.” Each distinctive players in their own right, Kashiwa, Waters and Cole contribute something uniquely their own to the ensemble. Waters explains, “I bring the smooth alto sound with the old school jazz riffs. Steve brings the big bold Tenor sax sound that I call the ‘Bull Dozer’ and Jeff adds another great tenor sound that is warmer. When we all come together the result is amazing.”  Power of 3 opens with the swooning, euphoric and harmonically pleasing “Sooner or  Later,” the album’s first single that is steadily climbing the charts.  “It’s a throwback to the old soul era of The Spinners and The Temptations,” explains Kashiwa.  “The sentiment is that sooner or later you'll come back to me baby! It's a love song you can dance to.” Steve Cole adds, “Jeff brought it to the writing session, and together we finished the tune.  I think it really represents the mood and state of mind that we were all in as we regrouped after some time to make music together again.  We were having a blast!”

“Back in Style,” soulful and funky number, features the three saxophonists weaving in and out of one another creating a magnificent and robust sonic tapestry. A lush chorus featuring tenorman David Mann and trumpeter David Neumann is featured on this track and throughout most of the album. Power of 3 also showcases organist Ricky Peterson, guitarists Bernd Schoenhart and Gerey Johnson, trombonist Dan Levine, drummer Kahari Parker, bassist Lamar Jones and keyboardist Dave Kochanski. Waters plays keys on a number of the songs.

The high powered and sweat-including “Disco Here” is a take no prisoners dance anthem with an irresistible and pulsating groove from beginning to end while “Shine On” maintains the high energy with the memorable R&B number that gives room for each saxophonist to take flight. The trio welcomes a fourth saxophonist on “Shine On” as Marcus Anderson steps into the ring. He can also be heard on the album’s title track. Kashiwa comments, “Marcus not only plays a few tunes, but he helped write many of the songs on the CD. So he had a big part in the creation of this project. Marcus is an incredibly talented young musician whose playing is very precise and full of energy and soul. He keeps us young!”

A standout on Power of 3 is the moving blues drenched and gospel-tinged “Like Old Times.”  The Sax Pack takes us to the funky side of town on  “Into You” and the 70s inspired title track, which effortlessly fuses all the finer elements of funk, dance, jazz and R&B to create some of the most exhilarating moments on the recording. “When Morning Comes” boasts a retro vibe and features Waters on alto and keys and showcases the flute of the multi-talented Dave Mann. “What’s The Time” is a break-neck tempo soul anthem with a rock edge that gives room for the guys to cut loose and strut their stuff. Kashiwa, Waters and Cole bring the album to a close with the 1980s Rick Astley #1 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” proving that they can take the surprising and make it work.

“Collectively the artists of The Sax Pack have amassed over 20 top-ten smooth jazz radio hits and sold over a million albums,” states Senior Vice President of A&R for Shanachie Entertainment, Danny Weiss.  “These times call for something special and unique, and that's why these three sax superstars decided to get together and record this album.  Jeff Kashiwa goes all the way back with the Rippingtons before establishing his solo career, Kim Waters comes more from the R&B end of the smooth jazz spectrum and Steve Cole, the newest in terms of length of career, has a fantastic ‘old school’ sound that really rounds out the ensemble.”

In a time of overly hyped and contrived recording projects, it is refreshing to know that The Sax Pack is not just an album but also an actual working band. For the past five years, Kashiwa, Waters and Cole have logged a lot of miles together playing sold out concerts, festivals and clubs around the country.  Kashiwa shares, “Kim has a very playful, charming and smooth approach to playing. A lot of those lines come from the bebop era combined with R&B phrasing which makes for a very exciting and elegant approach to playing. Steve's sound comes from that deep Chicago Blues tradition. His sound is nothing short of magnificent. He plays each and every line with integrity, power and soul. My playing is a combination of traditional jazz and funk because those are the two kinds of music that I listen to all day long.” Steve Cole adds  “We really have a blast…and we want the audience to join the party” and Kim Waters declares, “we are like brothers.”

Power Of 3 is a follow up to 2009’s The Pack Is Back and 2008’s The Sax Pack. Kashiwa was inspired to create The Sax Pack one day while he was watching a PBS documentary on The Rat Pack. “I am a huge fan,” explains the saxophonist. “I love the way the Rat Pack took the part that usually happens backstage and brought it to the forefront for the audience.  One day I was watching this Rat Pack show with Miles Gilderdale of Acoustic Alchemy when he said jokingly ‘yeah you can do The Sax Pack.’ I said ‘Wow!’ that is a great name.’ The next day I called Kim and Steve and said ‘I know we all have separate careers but what would it be like to play together as a group?’ The idea really took off from there. Our first concert was a sold-out show and there was instant chemistry among the three of us and we knew we were on to something.”

A native of Seattle, WA, Jeff Kashiwa has it all: technique, soul, showmanship, agility and grace. One of the most diverse and in demand sax players in all of contemporary jazz, Kashiwa cut his teeth with a decade long tenure with the Rippingtons.  Inspired by legendary saxman Stan Getz, Jeff Kashiwa has also collaborated with Acoustic Alchemy, Chuck Loeb, Special EFX, and his own successful group, Coastal Access. The chart-topping saxophonist maintains a busy schedule and rigorous tour schedule.  Kashiwa’s most recent solo project is Let It Ride.

Kim Waters has enjoyed a career longevity that is rare in the music business. For close to two decades the saxophonist, composer and producer has been one of the premier architects of Urban Smooth Jazz and a beacon of light in contemporary jazz.  Kim Waters’ music has fine-tuned the perfect combination of sensitivity and brawn, intellect and emotion and technique and soulfulness. It is these winning combinations, along with his sincere dedication and love for his craft, that have enabled him to score top-ten singles on all of his albums as a leader.  The suave, debonair and commanding saxophonist’s ability to transcend the musical boundaries of jazz, pop and R&B have made him one of the most sought-after musicians in contemporary jazz.  Kim Waters most recent solo project is Silver Soul.

Steve Cole's soulful style reflects the rich R&B heritage of his hometown, Chicago. This high-caliber, creative sax man has made a mark in jazz by releasing consistently enjoyable CDs.  Cole, who studied music at Northwestern University and business at the University of Chicago, boasts an impressive resume including playing on numerous commercial spots, contributing to a number of soundtracks on the A&E network, as well as composing and performing music with keyboardist Brian Culbertson, guitarists Chuck Loeb, Nick Colionne, and Marc Antoine. Steve Cole’s most recent solo album is Pulse.

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