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The Sax Pack

It looks like the return of the Rat Pack, but three smooth jazz sax men continue to come together to bring their individual stylings to one of the best collaborations in years. Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole and Kim Waters are known as The Sax Pack and show some of the traits of Frank, Sammy and Dean, musical ability, good looks, chemistry, charm and wit. Between the three men, Jeff, Steve and Kim have 20 smooth jazz radio hits and have sold tens of thousands of albums.

Some people find it hard to believe that The Sax Pack has been around for a relatively long time. Cole says, this group has been together actually for five years and we were touring for a few years before we actually start recording. The thing that's really cool is that we've been able to evolve. We started working together many years ago. We get along great, we're very, very good friends, we enjoy hanging out with each other. We're kind of a unit and enjoy playing together and planning to be playing together for a very long time.

The players in The Sax Pack know each of their strengths. Jeff says, we all have our unique voice and unique sound of saxophone, but we're also got a lot in common, passion for saxophone, jazz, et cetera. I think it's the sort of our unique blends that I like the most. I like the passion when we're actually together and harmonizing.

Steve Cole believes the music The Sax Pack brings tells you a lot about the group. He says, I think that joy just comes out in the music. The great thing about going year to year and writing original music for the project and making records together and touring together is that we really do get to develop over time, which a lot of groups that come together for one record or one tour don't really get to do. People who come to our shows are able to see a real progression of where we're going and how our music in changing.

There have been many packaged smooth jazz shows that tour the country on a regular basis. Those include Guitars and Saxes, Jazz Attack, Norman Brown's Summer Storm and the yearly Christmas shows of Dave Koz, Peter White and Brian Culbertson. Jeff Kashiwa says, they're wonderful and very entertaining and very popular as well. What people want is chemistry. The thing that The Sax Pack brings is we're an actual group. We choose to hang out with each other, In fact, when we're not touring we get together at least once a year for something called The Sax Summit, which where we just throw a dart at a map and then just meet in a city and have fun and just kind of commune and talk about tunes, et cetera. It's that chemistry that is naturally there that we bring to the stage.

The Sax Pack is really a group concept that has the ability to get stronger material every year. Steve Cole says, we have that ability because we are a group and we are kind of committed to being a group to really evolve and grow. Every year just try to do something better, funnier, write music that really does reflect the group dynamic.

The Sax Pack also doesn't take themselves at times really seriously. Kashiwa says, years ago we made an agreement. We're not going to do this unless it's fun. When the fun stops, we're not going to do this anymore. It's just become such a rewarding partnership for all of us, mutually rewarding. We make a thousand jokes a minute, but all joking aside, when I'm on the road with these guys, I always come back home having learned a great deal, like a new approach to playing. Both Steve and Kim are very passionate players and completely different. When it's there future, I'm listening to them, I always taking in and learn a great deal and it's mutually beneficial.

There is a different kind of writing process that The Sax Pack follows. Cole says, it's not just I bring a song to the table, Jeff brings one, Kim brings one. We all are together in the writing process bringing this very holistic concept to what we do and I think people enjoy that. You get three people together to write and one of two things can happen. Either it's going to be brilliant or it's going to be a train wreck. It's either going to be too many chefs in the kitchen or three people working together to create something beautiful. The writing process is almost effortless. I wouldn't say it was simple or easy, but we work together so well and we all have something to bring to the table that when you stir it all together it's really great.

Each of The Sax Pack members have a different way of looking at music. Steve Cole says, we're very fortunate because we do come from very different backgrounds. We do have a lot of similarities in our approach to music, but also some things that are very distinctive and unique to each of us. We're very fortunate that all of these things come together in something that's a lot of times greater than the sum of its parts. A lot of groups who have tried to come together and write they just have such converging ideas and styles that they just really can't blend those things together. We're very fortunate that we're able to do that.

The Sax Pack's first release, which was self-titled was recorded differently than their latest CD, which was also self titled. Kashiwa says, on the first CD, we did the compositions in Steve's studio in Chicago and then we went to New York and actually recorded the saxophone parts together. The first album we had only one mike. We all hunched around one mike like the old school days and used proximity to balance our different levels. We did it that way so that we could get and actual group blend.

For their newest CD, The Sax Pack tried something different. Cole says, we chose the West Coast. We wrote and recorded much of it in Sacramento, California and then we went to Los Angeles to do the saxophone parts. We're all in the same room, we wrote a lot of the melodies sitting around a table at the pool in Los Angeles, singing melodies into an iPhone and then went in the studio the next day and recorded all the part for the record.

The Sax Pack is a trio of sax men who don't take themselves seriously when they don't have to, but are very serious when they need to. Kashiwa says, we have a very nice combination of being highly focused when the time comes and also being very relaxed about the whole process. It's like don't try so hard, it doesn't help. Just relax and it will come out. I hope it will continue to come out for years to come.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Sax Pack
  • Subtitle: ...one of the best collaborations in years
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