Dave Koz – Off The Beaten Path

Dave’s exuberant soul shines on, Off The Beaten Path, which he wrote while experiencing a big life change, moving from his LA hometown to Northern California. He crosses a number of musical boundaries on this CD, bringing into the smooth jazz orbit a twinge of the pop acoustic style, while managing to put his increasingly recognizable stamp on every tune. Dave explained at the time of the release; “This album is an outgrowth of my personal experiences. I’ve made significant changes in my life since I wrote my last album… I’ve taken some time to re-evaluate and re-fill the creative well. I’m now in my 30’s and I’m focusing on having a life outside of my career and that has had a positive impact on the music I’m writing.” Dave worked with Thom Panunzio, (Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Tracy Chapman, Tom Petty) and brother Jeff. Dave’s upbeat soprano sax blends beautifully with the accompanying acoustic and electric guitars, all of which give anyone a reason to rejoice and follow Dave Off The Beaten Path towards his ever-rising star.

Dave Koz’s complete 180 twist Off the Beaten Path is full-fledged musical proof that digging deep and exposing certain vulnerabilities can yield dead-on results. The saxman’s first two hits (including the gold “Lucky Man”) were solid pop/funk gems, but heavy on the slick, urban-tinged production machinery. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? How droll and uninspiring. Instead, Koz has chosen to veer slightly off the smooth and onto a rockier, less certain road for a more organic, acoustic-oriented experience, all of which reflects the sweeping changes in his life these past few years. A combination of high energy and tight synergy with his supporting players shines through from the raw, fast, and furious folk-to-rock fusion drive-time cut “Don’t Look Back” to a wild, brassy, and bluesy “Wake Up Call” and on through the polyrhythmic alto jam “Follow Me Home” (featuring violin and Irish pennywhistle). Hootie & the Blowfish would envy the Jeff Lorber-tinged Southern rocker “Flat Feet,” a true barn burner that features call and response between Koz and Greg Leisz’s pedal steel guitar. The trappings may have changed, but the sweetheart in Koz’s soul isn’t far away melodically, judging by the silky “Lullaby for a Rainy Night” and “I’m Ready.” Hard to say where Sausalito meets the Southern porch swings, but there’s a definite John Grisham film score feel on many of the cuts. Guest wise, it might be more fun to mention Stevie Nicks asking Koz to “Let Me Count the Ways,” but Brian Mann’s accordion actually makes more impact.