By Franklin Abbott
Dave Koz says the saxophone was not his first instrument. “I was really bad at piano,” he says, “and rebelled. I was even worse at drums.” His older brother had a band that was playing weddings and bar mitvahs. He told his younger brother that the only way he could join the band was if he learned to play the sax. Koz did just that and found he had “a different chemical relationship with the instrument.” He encourages would-be musicians not to give up if they don’t bond with their first instrument. He says, “keep going until you find the right instrument for you.”
Twenty-five years ago Koz released his first solo album. He has since had nine Grammy nominations and nine number one albums on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. He is now traveling with his 19th holiday concert tour and is more excited than ever about the artists who are performing with him. He describes jazz musicianJonathan Butler as a brother who has been with him for the past ten tours, soul singer Kenny Lattimore as someone who has “a voice made for Christmas,” and Valerie Simpson who with her late husband Nick Ashford wrote hit after hit as “music royalty.” He calls her a “triple threat” who brings together powerful vocals, keyboard and stage presence. He calls her authentic and powerful. She “means every word.”
Collaboration is also key to the music Koz writes. He says that if he just sat alone he would “write the same song over and over.” Collaboration which is the theme of his latest album, allows him to “open and overlap hearts and ears with other songwriters.” He finds inspiration while driving or in the shower and brings these musical fragments into his collaborations . He says, “it’s in the overlap where true inspiration lies.” Koz has collaborated with artists as different as Stevie Wonder and Stevie Nicks.
He hopes his holiday concert will bring joy and hope to his listeners. He says that especially in challenging times music is a way “we can support each other.” Koz will be performing with Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and music icon Valerie Simpson this Friday at the Cobb Energy Center on Friday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, visit this link.
Franklin Abbott is a psychotherapist and writer.