Jeff Kashiwa born in 1963 in Louisville, Kentucky but moved to Seattle as a young child. He credited the public school’s music program for his starting his interest in music. He has also credited his father, who died in 1992, for his love of music because he was a fan of jazz music including Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. While attending school, his father gave him an old silver clarinet. When he later saw a row of saxophones at school, Kashiwa knew he had found his new instrument.
As a local gig musician and working small jobs, Kashiwa searched for an audition in a more permanent position in a band. After searching and being denied, he approached Steve Bailey from The Rippingtons. Kashiwa was a fan of the Rippingtons and hired Bailey to play along with him and eventually asked about The Rippingtons audition. Kashiwa joined The Rippingtons following a festival concert and Brandon Fields’ exit from the group. Kashiwa prepared himself for the role by learning every song in the group’s library prior to being hired, making his eventual step into Field’s large shoes seemingly effortless. Kashiwa recorded his first two solo albums, (“Remember Catalina” and “Walk A Mile”), during his tenure with The Rippingtons.
In 1999 Kashiwa left the group to concentrate on a solo career with his own band, Coastal Access, which included Melvin Davis (Bass), Allen Hinds (Guitar), Dave Hooper (drums) and Dave Kochanski (Keyboards/Synths). Eric Marienthal and Paul Taylor both covered the sax player spot in The Rippingtons for a few years, but Kashiwa rejoined the group in 2007 for their 20th Anniversary Tour, and continues to appear with the group on occasion.
In 2004, Kashiwa called on some of his saxophone peers and started a new group that would feature the instrument, as well as their collective musical passion for jazz, funk and R&B. “The Sax Pack” features Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole & Kim Waters. Along with being cohesive musically, the trio share a unique and comical camaraderie on stage. The Sax Pack released two CDs, “The Sax Pack” (2008) and “The Pack is Back” (2009) on Shanachie Records.
Kashiwa plays soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute and the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). His involvement in music encompasses composing, producing, performing and teaching.
Kashiwa attended Berklee College of Music in 1981-83, where he developed an interest in straight-ahead jazz. As a student, he was picked as second alto chair by Disney’s All American College Band and eventually became an instructor. Kashiwa later transferred to Cal State Long Beach and received his bachelor’s degree in Music in 1985. Kashiwa currently teaches Music Technology courses at Shoreline College, as well as private music lessons for students of all ages. Kashiwa has a wife, Chaunte, and a daughter, Catalina.