Koz touts show with Winans as a celebration of music, life

Posted on 2012-07-31.

On July 18, 2012, Jim Beal of My San Antonio interviewed saxophonist Dave Koz about his current tour with vocalist BeBe Winans, and how he came to be the musician he is today.

There’s a good chance the saxophone chose Dave Koz.

“My mom was pretty musical, so there was always music in our home. I took piano lessons. Then I rebelled and started playing drums. But I was so bad at everything I tried,” Koz said, laughing.

“Then, in the seventh grade, I picked up a saxophone. Not to sound too weird, but it was almost like finding another part of my body. The saxophone has become my most trusted friend, ally, confidant and best friend.”

That friendship with the saxophone has paid dividends. The Southern California-bred, Southern California-based Koz has made a considerable mark in the smooth/contemporary jazz world. After working as a sideman for Bobby Caldwell, Jeff Lorber, Richard Marx and others, Koz set out as a leader. He has released about a dozen albums, including his latest, “Hello Tomorrow,” rung up a string of Grammy nominations, regularly tops contemporary jazz album charts, ramrods a jazz cruise and a record label, hosts a radio show, works with the Starlight Children’s Foundation and has a line of wine, KOZ wine.

Koz did not develop his musical style out of the gate.

“Like most people, you try on a lot of clothes,” he said. “Last night, at the Hollywood Bowl, during a tribute to Ray Charles, I played a duet with one of my heroes, Tom Scott. I was on stage at the Hollywood Bowl doing a duet with this man I worshipped. I was also influenced a lot by David Sanborn, Cannonball Adderley and Phil Woods. You listen, you play along to the music then you just start to develop something unique. It’s like stitching a quilt, you stitch something unique out of something familiar.”

….The Koz band, which he describes as a “power quartet,” includes Brian Simpson (keyboards), Nathaniel Kearney Jr. (bass), Jay Williams (drums) and Randy Jacobs (guitar) plus vocalist Margaret Bell, a childhood friend of Koz’s featured guest, gospel singer BeBe Winans.

“BeBe has been my friend for 25 years. He’s gospel royalty. He’s known for his solo work and for his work with his sister, CeCe,” Koz said.

“I know people are asking, ‘How does this work? A white Jewish sax player and a black gospel singer?’ It works very well. I always say BeBe and I are brothers from another mother. Musically we come together. And that says something about music that people come together. BeBe sang the title track to my album ‘The Dance.’”

….Koz is a firm believer in bringing musicians and audiences together.

“BeBe brings this gospel thing, not a religious thing, but a gospel thing,” he said. “Concert halls, in their purest form, are places where people gather to celebrate life through music. People come in and, for 1½, 2 hours, they check their problems at the coat check. Concert halls are like a modern-day church or synagogue.”

“This is a very inspiring show for me, too. BeBe doesn’t tour. He hasn’t done a tour in 10 years. Whenever we get on a plane, he looks at me like, ‘How did I let you talk me into this?’”

Koz has had good fortune working with people he admires. He has written with Burt Bacharach. His cover of the Bacharach/Hal David song “This Guy’s in Love With You” on “Hello Tomorrow” features a cameo on the CD and in the video by the man who had the original hit, Herb Alpert.

“The album producer, Marcus Miller, said, ‘Why don’t you sing it?’ I said if Herb Alpert gave me a thumbs-up, I’ll sing it. Herb said I should definitely sing and, if I saved him some space, he’d play on it. It was a great honor for me to have such a hero of mine play on the song. That song has such a beautiful, simple message. With all that’s going on in the world, I just wanted to bring a touch of love.”

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Dave Koz with special guest BeBe Winans
Saturday, August 4th, 2012
Fraze Pavilion
Tickets $25 to $45
Get details here