Summer Horns blow into Thornton Winery

Published on September 13th, 2018

By Jim Dail

Back in 2014, superstar saxman Dave Koz was talking about the just ended Summer Horns tour. “It was an exact moment at the end in a bus to the last gig last summer,” he said. “I could feel it in the bus, and we were sitting with our road manager and we could feel how proud and happy we were and it was a bittersweet moment. We were sad to see it end and no one was saying it. I just said ‘Is anyone interested in doing this again?’”

The album, Summer Horns, had gone to Number 1 on Billboard’s Current Contemporary Jazz chart, as well as garnering a Grammy nomination.

Well, it’s 2018 and that question has been answered with another Summer Horns album. Summer Horns II From A to Z, and another tour, which rolls into Thornton Winery on Saturday and Sunday as part of the 2018 Champagne Jazz Concert Series.

This time around it is Koz, trumpeter Rick Braun, saxman Gerald Albright, saxman Richard Elliot and trombone/vocalist Aubrey Logan.

The new record features an eclectic group of songs from “Route 66” to “More Today Than Yesterday” to “Conga” to “This will be (An Everlasting Love).”

“People may not know any of us, but they will know the songs,” Koz said. “And the key is to faithfully follow the songs but not just create a copy of it. It’s a matter of how do you do a song justice. It can’t just be karaoke.”

Just like the previous Summer Horns project, this one involved give and take as to what would wind up on the CD.

“We gently, but valiantly, tried to convince others of our choices,” he said. “The initial list was about 200 songs, and we had to whittle it down. We opted for songs that were more obvious choices.”

Among the songs are “Route 66” which was covered by Nat King Cole, among others, and “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” a hit for his daughter Natalie Cole. This time they are aided by guest appearances by Kenny Lattimore and Shelea.

“We all loved Natalie and it was so sad that she passed away so young,” he said. “That song had a great horn section, but it was an emotional choice. Aubrey is a powerhouse and she sang ‘Route 66’ on a cruise with us and Rick Braun wanted it to be her big feature.”

Koz gives a great deal of credit not only to Braun, but the arrangers.

“Gordon Goodwin is unsung as the arranger,” he said. “We also had Tom Scott and Greg Adams, and when we got to the studio they had all the horn charts ready for us. The trick was memorizing them so we could go out on the road and do them!”

Another one was “Conga,” the classic Gloria Estefan song that features not only Logan but … Estefan.

“She is a friend of mine and we have collaborated before, and I wanted to get her a copy of the album track and sent it to her,” he said. “When I got it back it wasn’t just her blessing but her singing background on it! And she is Aubrey’s idol so she was so happy.”

In another example, Gerald Albright brought in “Before I Let Go.”

“He brought it in so it made sense for him to be the melody,” he said. “Everyone is a star and it was all democratic and everyone had a chance to be heard but everyone also had to check our egos at the door. It was about what’s best for the album.”

They added in a little Paul Simon flair with “Late in the Evening,” featuring Jonathan Butler on guitar and vocal. There’s also Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Gateway” blended with KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s the Way I like It.”

There’s definitely an excitement with the project and performances.

“It’s a lot of energy when we all come out at once just giving it to the audience immediately,” he said. “Some are just shocked because we are out there guns a-blazing and it’s just a powerful start.”

It helps that all of them have had long careers, which have included not being the superstar.

“All of us have had 30-year careers and are very fortunate,” he said. “We all started as ensemble players at school, concert bands, and sax sections. It’s in our DNA and we can play with one voice. When everything is right, it is something great.”

IF YOU GO

When:  7 p.m., Saturday, September 15 (Doors open at 6 p.m.)

5 p.m. Sunday, September 16 (Doors open at 4 p.m.)

Where: Thornton Winery, Temecula

Admission: General admission $85 for Sunday’s show, Gourmet supper: Sold Out

Information: Call 951-699-3021 or visit Website, www.thorntonwine.com

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