The Sax Pack
The Sax Pack
The Sax Pack – the all-star gathering of smooth jazz vets Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, and Kim Waters – is one of the hottest live tickets in the genre. Audiences enjoy their onstage Frank, Dino and Sammy-inspired between-song banter at least as much as the soulful covers and originals they play. But the Sax Pack wasn’t simply a clever marketing idea. They were inspired when Kashiwa presented the idea of a trio tour in 2003, after seeing a PBS documentary on the Rat Pack. The tour was an immediate hit, but it’s taken a few years for all the red tape to be cleared for an actual combined recording.
Waters’ longtime label Shanachie scored the deal, and this first album – while failing to completely capture the sizzling energy and sense of spunk and improvisation the trio shares onstage – is still full of coolness and infectious melodies. A bit chintzy at nine cuts, it finds the three playing a little too conservatively until the closing three originals, when they break free on “Maceo,” the shuffling retro-soul gem “A Little Bit Closer,” and the bluesy closer “Goin’ Home.”
No doubt thinking of airplay, they open the disc with nicely rendered pop tunes like “Fallin’ For You” (which borrows mostly from Kashiwa’s solo vibe). There are also the requisite covers of songs they like to do live, including “The World Is A Ghetto” and “Tequila,” which could be peppier but are still irresistible enough thanks to Jeff Golub’s crisp electric guitar. As commercially appealing as the Sax Pack is on disc, more adventurous fans will probably prefer the real deal.
- Jonathan Widran