Dave Koz brings 'Summer' to the State
Internationally-known saxophonist and eight-time Grammy nominee Dave Koz, and three of his most talented and trusted colleagues, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, and Mindi Abair, celebrate his latest Concord Records CD, "Dave Koz and Friends Summer Horns," 7:30 p.m. July 13, State Theatre for the Arts, 453 Northampton St., Easton.
The 22-date "Summer Horns" tour, which began June 22 and includes a concert next month at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, and the CD include songs made famous by Sly & the Family Stone ("Hot Fun In The Summertime"), Tower of Power ("So Very Hard To Go"), Chicago ("25 Or 6 To 4"), Stevie Wonder ("You Haven't Done Nothin'") and Herb Alpert ("Rise").
Koz, 50, still lives in Woodland Hills, Calif., where he was born and raised. His mother played piano, wrote songs and sang. According to Koz, she forced him, his brother and sister to play piano, too, but no one liked to practice. Koz was about six or seven and at age 10, he says, he rebelled and tried to play the drums.
"I remember those times vividly," says Koz. "I had a very scary issue one day when I overheard my teacher take my Dad aside and tell him, 'You might want to think of sports for your son.'
"I always thought I had a musical ear and that I had talent, and something really clicked when I picked up the sax I loaned from school.
"By this time I was 13. I experienced a totally different kinship with my new-found instrument. It was like finding my voice, and having everything fall into place.
"I really pushed myself because I wanted to get into my older brother's band. They didn't have a sax player. So, over the course of the next year my father first rented a sax, and then bought me one.
"I was 15 and the guys in the band were all older than me in their late teens but it was great, because their experience taught me so many things. We played all types of music, and I remember how angry I was at my first gig with them, which was a wedding. They got $100 each and I got $10."
Koz continued playing frequently in the Los Angeles area, met a lot of people, and became well-established. Two weeks after graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles, he auditioned for Bobby Caldwell's band, and got the job. Next, he did a tour with keyboardist Jeff Lorber, then a 14-month tour with pop singer Richard Marx.
Koz was signed by Capitol Record's Bruce Lundvall in 1990, and released the self-titled "Koz," which became a hit. His career took off. Since then he has sold "between two and three" million albums as a Capitol and Concord recording artist.
"Summer Horns," with Abair, Albright and Elliot and his 14th album, already debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's contemporary jazz album chart. The first single, a version of The Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" inspired by the hit 1978 cover by Earth, Wind & Fire, charted at No. 1 on one of the adult contemporary charts.
"This was the first shot for us," says Koz. "We have known each other for many years, but never worked together until now. They were the sax players I immediately thought of to do this CD, followed by the tour.
"It's like, we walked into the studio for the first time together, and said, 'What are we gonna do?'"
Also featured on the new CD are Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Michael McDonald, Jeffrey Osborne and Jonathon Butler.
Koz also continues his syndicated radio show, "The Dave Koz Radio Show," which he started in 1994, and is heard on hundreds of stations in the United States and around the world.
"Back then when I was called and asked to do the show I told them I had no broadcast experience, and they told me that's exactly what they wanted. Since then we have had almost everyone who makes contemporary music on our show."
Koz also leads a yearly "Jazz Cruise." This Sept. 22 - 29, he's off to Rome and the Greek Islands.