Release Date:
March 18, 2008

Reviewed by:
Harvey Cline
Sometimes you just never know where great ideas are born, but you’re always glad that someone thought of them. That’s very true for the three sax artists Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters, and Steve Cole, who are the core members of the super group, The Sax Pack. Says Kashiwa, “It’s funny, it started off as a joke because [of] my friend Miles Gilderdale, who’s a guitarist for Acoustic Alchemy. I was playing with them and we were backstage watching HBO at Humphrey’s before we were going on stage. We were just sitting there, kicking back watching HBO and there was a remake of the “Rat Pack.” I love those days. I love the Rat Pack and the fun they had on stage and the camaraderie. And it comes to me, that’s it, the Sax Pack. It was a joke, but I thought… you know what? I’m going to run with this. Two days later I picked up the phone and called some of my buddies and said “Let’s do this. Let’s put something together that features just sax. Instead of guitars and sax, it’s sax and sax. So I called Steve and Kim and off we went.” And run with it they did. After some time on the road, they finally got together in Steve Cole’s studio and recorded what everyone had been hearing live. In a unique situation, they were actually together when recording and even shared the same microphone. As a result, the sound is similar to that heard in their live shows. 

The playful “Fallin’ For You” is the group’s first single and features Kashiwa extensively in the beginning. It’s a bouncy little number that’s getting a lot of airplay. There’s good harmony from the three while he and Waters trade barbs to bring it to a close. “The Sax Pack” would probably be considered the title track. Cole takes the initial lead here while the other two lay down the back ground. He, of course, is followed by segments featuring both Kashiwa and Waters. “All I Really Want” is more laid back in the approach and heavy on bass and keys. Cole’s haunting notes give way to the melodies of Waters and Kashiwa in a seductive number you won’t quickly forget.  

Straight from the live shows comes a couple of cover versions, including War’s “The World Is A Ghetto” and the always fun “Tequila,” featuring Jeff Golub on guitar. There’s also a soulful remake of Michael Henderson’s “Star Ship” that Norman Connors recorded back in 1976.  

“A Little Bit Closer” picks up the pace somewhat and has a driving back beat that lends itself to featuring all three artists. Complete with three-part harmonies, this one still shines with the individual playing. One of my favorites would have to be the funky “Maceo” (named after legendary sax man Maceo Parker of course!). It has that gritty, live feel to it as you can almost feel each one step up to the microphone for their individual solos. Gerey Johnson breaks it all up with a nice guitar solo before our three sax men spring back into action and bring it to a searing finale. They close this one out with an appropriately named “Goin’ Home.” Mike Ricchiuti plays the church-like keyboards that plays off the sax here very well. The three come in for some great three-part harmonies that make this one a good one to go home on. Nice.  

All and in all I think this is one of the fun ones of the summer. It has some good new material as well as some fun favorites. There are enough differences between the three voices to make you take note of who’s playing. Hopefully you can catch them on the road this summer and join up with “the Pack.”