Koz back in action with two albums and a tour

Published on September 8th, 2021

By Jim Dail

One of the things that some know about saxman Dave Koz that others may not know is that he never seems to take time off. The pandemic changed that for him and many others.

With the lockdowns and other issues with Covid-19, it seems only natural that performers would get back to nature and home life. In the case of saxman Dave Koz, he stayed busy as usual, if not out and about.

“I got reacquainted with my couch,” laughed Koz, who will perform Saturday and Sunday at Thornton Winery as part of the 2021 Champagne Jazz Concert Series. “I actually worked really hard, trying to consider what is the appropriate use of the time I had. I had not had a sabbatical in 30 years!”

Leave it to Koz to not just do one thing during the lockdown. All Koz did was complete two albums, A New Day and The Golden Hour, the latter with funk artist Cory Wong.

“While at home, I went to my feel-good heroes, like Earth Wind and Fire, Bill Withers, Grover Washington, Bob James,” he said. “I think music has the ability to heal, and that really inspired me to put those feelings into something that worked for me at the time.”

It had been 10 years since he had released a new album. After graduating from UCLA, Koz immediately joined Bobby Caldwell’s band and became a big name in the world of recording sessions before debuting with his own self-title album. Since then he has been a mainstay on the charts and a hugely influential musician.

“We did it virtually, with everyone at home, and they would send the tracks they did to me, and people were listening as we did it,” he said. “I brought in Bob James, Rick Braun, David Sanborn, just a host of great musicians. I wanted the album to be one that lifts people up with all that they have been through.”

It was released on the 30th anniversary of his first album.

“It worked because everyone was home and had a lot of pent-up energy to play music,” he said. “It was tricky to do it, but I love how cohesive it is and how much feeling is there.”

His other project, The Golden Hour, was a little more traditional in terms of recording – with a few unique differences that he probably will not have to do again, such as masks and distancing.

“That was more of a live recording that we did in the studio masked up,” he said.

The collaboration joined Koz with Grammy-nominated artist Wong, who has attracted a great deal of attention with his funk, new-age style. The original idea was a double CD where Koz focused on both the past and the present.

“I can collaborate with anyone in my world, and this was a great opportunity to get together and go at it live with someone who is from a different place in terms of music and audience,” he said.

He saw it as a tremendous opportunity to reach out to those who may not know his music.

“The contemporary jazz world does not know him, and the younger generation may not know me,” he said. “We need this. I don’t know if it is going to move the needle, but we need to hear what each other are doing. There are tons of young artists that deserve the attention of older ones, and for us older ones, we have to find a way in a new era.”

Of course, as Koz returns to the stage, he is once again collaborating, this time with Mindi Abair, Kirk Whalum and Vincent Ingala.

By the time he reaches Thornton Winery, they will have performed a few shows.

“People I have talked to are excited and nervous about being back on stage,” he said. “I’ve done shows during all this in front of a camera, but not in front of other humans. I am hoping it is like riding a bike.”

So, like everything in his career, he is going to take the challenge and go after it.

“After a few shows, there will be a different texture to the performances,” he said. “We are just going to roll up our sleeves and see what happens!”



When:  7 p.m., Saturday Sept. 11 and 6 p.m. Sunday Sept. 12

Where: Thornton Winery, Temecula

General admission: $105

Gourmet Supper: $195

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


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