Firmly believing that each of his recordings should be a musical reflection of the ebbing and flowing of his life, Dave celebrated the return from a four year stint living in Northern California to his hometown roots in Los Angeles with the jubilant and life affirming excitement of his fifth Capitol release, The Dance. Aside from reuniting him with some of the producers who worked on his debut ten years earlier – Jeff Lorber, Carl Sturken, Evan Rogers and his brother Jeff – The Dance is a true testament to the art of collaboration. The album remains a testimony to Dave’s enduring philosophy; “The loneliest thing in the world is creating music by myself in a room.” With The Dance, he surrounds himself with some of pop, R&B, gospel and smooth jazz’s greatest performers, who also happen to be personal heroes, and the result is a compelling and innovative work that remains one of Dave’s best recordings.
Since his self-titled 1990 smash debut, Dave Koz has been one of smooth jazz’s greatest musicians. The saxman scored big on the radio and in retail even when he turned away from his established R&B/pop sound on 1996’s Off the Beaten Path, which was done with more acoustic instruments. The Dance brings him back to the hard-hitting R&B funk sounds of that first album and its follow-up, 1993’s Lucky Man. Aside from reuniting him with some of the producers who worked on his debut — Jeff Lorber, Carl Sturken, Evan Rogers, and his brother Jeff Koz — The Dance is a true testament to the art of collaboration. He surrounds himself with some of pop, R&B, gospel, and his own genre’s greatest performers, but never lets you forget that this is a sax player’s album. The swinging retro-funk/hip-hop of “Can’t Let You Go (The Sha La Song)” features Luther Vandross. Modern R&B star Montell Jordan co-produces and takes lead vocal on a cover of Wham!’s “Careless Whisper” that is perhaps a bit too faithful to the original. Several members of Take 6 help Koz achieve a much more original effect on “I’ll Be There.” He also works with personal hero Burt Bacharach, who co-wrote and plays piano on the lovely soprano ballad “Don’t Give Up.” Koz ventures into Latin territory on “You Are Me, I Am You,” which features a sizzling flamenco guitar solo by Marc Antoine, while another top smooth jazz guitarist, Jonathan Butler, scats and plays a vibrant acoustic harmony on “The Bright Side.” Lest Koz get lost among all the partying with his pals, he does everything himself on the album’s most exciting but possibly least commercial track, “Cuban Hideaway.” This cut is a Tito Puente-type Latin jazz big band explosion on which he plays all the horn instruments, alto, tenor, soprano, and baritone — 50 sax tracks in all. This disc is easily one of smooth jazz’s finest moments of 1999, but imagine the possibilities had Koz put this sort of thought into creating more tracks so off the beaten path.
|1999||The Billboard 200||190|
|1999||Top Contemporary Jazz Albums||2|