Nine-time GRAMMY® nominee Dave Koz remembers the first record he ever purchased – Tower of Power’s 1974 album, Back To Oakland. It had a powerful impact on him, as his latest album, Summer Horns, shows. Teaming up with three of his most talented and trusted colleagues – Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair – Koz revisited the music that made him want to pick up the saxophone in the first place: classic tracks from Tower of Power and other brassy juggernauts that ruled the airwaves from the late 1960s through the ‘70s – bands like Sly & the Family Stone, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears.
Over the decades, the saxophone has opened numerous doors for Koz. He’s played with such artists as Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Shelby Lynne, Kenny Loggins, U2, Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross and Rod Stewart. He’s become a platinum-selling artist with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is also known as a humanitarian, entrepreneur, radio host and instrumental music advocate.
Born and raised in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Dave initially just saw the saxophone as a way to help him gain entry into his big brother’s band. What began as a ploy became a lifelong obsession. After graduating from UCLA, Koz decided to become a professional musician. Within weeks of that decision, he was recruited as a touring member of Bobby Caldwell’s band. It was during this time that Koz befriended keyboardist Jeff Lorber, who invited Koz to come play on one of his tours. That stint was followed by a fourteen-month tour with pop singer Richard Marx.
Signed to Capitol Records by Bruce Lundvall, Koz released his self-titled solo debut album in 1990. This was the first in a body of best-selling work, which includes the gold-certified Lucky Man (1993), Off The Beaten Path (1996), and the holiday-themed albums December Makes Me Feel This Way (1997) and Dave Koz & Friends – A Smooth Jazz Christmas (2001). His gold-certified fifth album, The Dance (1999), spawned no less than five Top 5 contemporary jazz hits. Saxophonic (2003) produced another four Top 5 singles and garnered Koz two Grammy nominations spanning two consecutive years.
In 2007, Koz released two chart-topping collections of standards. At The Movies, his lush, romantic celebration of timeless melodies from cinema, spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz chart. Produced by the legendary Phil Ramone, it was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Pop Instrumental Album” category. Memories Of A Winter’s Night, a festive collection of holiday standards, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz chart in December 2007. Dave Koz At The Movies Double Feature CD + DVD followed in early 2008, which featured the At The Movies CD with two never-before-released bonus audio tracks, a new DVD and a track-by-track commentary.
Capitol Records released Dave Koz – Greatest Hits, his first-ever retrospective album, in the fall of 2008 and it debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and iTunes’ Jazz Album chart. The collection included many of Koz’s smash singles – including “Castle of Dreams,” “Can’t Let You Go” featuring the late Luther Vandross, “Together Again,” “Honey-Dipped” and “All I See Is You” – plus four new brand new songs. Lead single “Life In The Fast Lane,” which Koz co-wrote with writer/producer Darren Rahn, spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the R&R Monitored Smooth Jazz chart. It was followed by the Top 5 single “Bada Bing.”
Hello Tomorrow – Dave’s first album for Concord Records – debuted at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and iTunes’ Jazz Album chart and was named the “Best Smooth Jazz Album of 2010” by iTunes. The CD was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Hailed as “an event record” by The New York Times, its lead single, “Put The Top Down,” spent 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Mediabase Smooth A/C chart – the longest stint at No. 1 of any of Koz’s chart-topping hits. Ultimate Christmas, featuring 18 perennial holiday classics performed by Koz, bowed in 2011 on Capitol/EMI. Live at the Blue Note Tokyo, Koz’s first-ever live CD, was released by Concord Records in 2012 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Koz and his friends Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair turned to producer Paul Brown (Al Jarreau, George Benson, June Tabor, Boney James) to help them realize the vision for Summer Horns (2013, Concord Records). The album also features trumpeter/flugelhornist Rick Braun, trombonist Brian Culbertson, vocalists Michael McDonald, Jeffrey Osborne and Jonathan Butler – plus arrangements by Greg Adams (Tower of Power) and Tom Scott. Topping it off is a sax-only rendition of “Take Five” with Gordon Goodwin offering his arrangement to the quartet and a new original composition, “Summer Horns.” The album was honored with a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album and an NAACP Image Awards nomination for Outstanding Jazz Album.
Dave is constantly touring, with annual summer and holiday tours, and Dave Koz & Friends At Sea cruises. He also continues to flex his mass-communications muscles as a radio personality. On the weekends, he hosts the syndicated Dave Koz Radio Show – now in its 19th year and airing in approximately 50 markets.
As an entrepreneur, Koz founded Rendezvous Entertainment. As a philanthropist, he has served for 19 years as global ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Dave recently partnered with premium Santa Barbara winemaker Terravant, Whole Foods Market® and California Pizza Kitchen to introduce four new types of KOZ wines. He is donating all his proceeds from KOZ wines to help Starlight continue its vital mission. Koz completed a four-year term on the Grammy Foundation Artists Committee, has served as National Trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) and is an ongoing member of the Board Of Governors for the Grammy® Foundation.
To this day, Koz is transfixed by the sound of summer horns that swept him away nearly 40 years ago and – as he continues his efforts as an instrumental music advocate – he’s living proof that the opportunities are limitless when you shoot for the stars and are armed with your favorite instrument.
The Starlight Children’s Foundation
For the past 20 years, Dave has served as Global Ambassador for The Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to making a difference for seriously ill children and their families by helping them cope with pain, fear and isolation — brightening their world a little each day. In 2006, Dave was awarded the Humanitarian Of The Year Award from Starlight and for the past five years, Dave and his fans have helped Starlight deliver cuddly bears to hospitalized children during the holiday season. This year the drive presses on and his fans continue to make it possible for Starlight to make a huge difference in the lives of serious ill children and their families nationwide.
Cookies for a Koz
COOKIES FOR A KOZ was created by my sister Roberta Koz Wilson in honor of “master” cookie maker Audrey Koz, our mom! Audrey spent her adult life spreading happiness, love and smiles through the proliferation of her “world famous” chocolate chip cookies.
ALTO SAX: Yamaha silver alto sax YAS-62S (beechler metal mouthpiece, #7)
SOPRANO SAX: Yamaha silver Soprano sax YSS-62S (Couf mouthpiece #8) Conn curved soprano sax (vintage)
TENOR SAX: Selmer Mark 6 Tenor sax (Berg-Larsen hard rubber mouthpiece)
REEDS: RICO PLASTICOVER #3