Kashif's appearance Saturday at the Beverly Theatre was a benefit to provide toys for poor children, but he doesn't adopt this generous spirit just for Christmas. As a producer and songwriter, Kashif almost always does his best work for other performers (such as Whitney Houston)--and on Saturday, you would've said that his backup personnel stole the show, if it wasn't so clear that he was giving it to them.
Kashif is responsible for a huge chunk of the R&B; hits of the last few years, and he exemplifies as well as anyone the massive middle of the black music road these days: somewhere halfway between hard funk and Teddy and Freddie balladry. He's a serviceable singer and performer in that mode, but his threat to "raise the roof off the sucker" came true only when he handed the reins over to guest sax player Kenny G. and the astonishing vocal prowess of Audrey Wheeler and Cindy Mizelle. Merry Christmas, Santa Kashif.