The holidays have always been about bringing close friends together and celebrating the season with good times and great music. Saxophonist and nine-time GRAMMY® nominee Dave Koz has been doing it every year for nearly two decades with talented friends and collaborators on a tour that brings the yuletide spirit to devoted audiences from one coast to the other.
Koz brings that same collaborative spirit to his 2014 holiday recording, The 25th of December (Concord Records), which was produced by Rickey Minor. The album features duets with some of the most prominent pop and jazz artists of the last several decades, including India.Arie, Eric Benét, Jonathan Butler, Gloria Estefan, Fantasia, Kenny G, Heather Headley, Richard Marx, Johnny Mathis, Trombone Shorty, BeBe Winans and Stevie Wonder. The result is a diverse and satisfying holiday set, beginning with the very first notes of a fully orchestrated instrumental rendition of “The First Noel” to the closing track (and the collection’s first single), an all-star rendition of the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love,” which beautifully captures the spirit of the season.
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 2013’s Summer Horns (also on Concord Records), which paid tribute to the high-octane, richly arranged horn sections that fueled hits across all genre boundaries in the ’60s and ’70s. 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 the highly successful Dave Koz & Friends At Sea. Koz, who has hosted four sold-out cruises thus far, will be exploring “The Ultimate Caribbean” with fans and fellow artists on his February 2016 cruise. Dave also continues to flex his mass-communications muscles as a radio personality. He hosts the syndicated Dave Koz Radio Show – now in its 20th year and airing in approximately 50 markets. In the spring of 2014, he launched “The Dave Koz Lounge,” which airs Sundays on SiriusXM (Satellite radio), and “Dave Koz & Friends Radio,” a 24-hour-a-day radio channel personally curated by Dave on SKY.FM Radio & JAZZRADIO.com multichannel internet radio services.
As an entrepreneur, Koz founded Rendezvous Entertainment. He recently joined forces with Cary Hardwick and Laurie Sisneros, partners and owners of Spaghettini in Seal Beach, to open a new restaurant/live music venue in the heart of Beverly Hills’ new restaurant row. Spaghettini and The Dave Koz Lounge is set to open in the late fall of 2014.
As a philanthropist, Koz has served for 19 years as global ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. With KOZ Wines, founded in 2009, he found another way to help Starlight continue its vital mission. Dave is donating all his proceeds from KOZ Wines to Starlight. The wines are available at Whole Foods Markets® and other retailers and during select periods at California Pizza Kitchen. Two new wines from Koz’s partnership with premium Santa Barbara winemaker Terravant picked up Gold and Best of Class awards in the 2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition.
Koz completed a four-year term on the GRAMMY® Foundation Artists Committee and has served as National Trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).
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
Audrey’s Cookies (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. Find out more
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