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In a career that spans 20 years and a dozen albums, saxophonist DAVE KOZ has established himself as one of the most prominent figures in contemporary music. But as noteworthy as his body of recorded work and as entertaining as his live performances and other past accomplishments might be, Koz finds himself in an era of dramatic and sweeping change where everything once taken for granted is suddenly up for grabs. For Koz – and for all of us in this first decade of the new century – it’s a new day, full of new challenges and opportunities, and new rules that are still being written.
Koz embraces this era of change – and even the uncertainty that comes with it – on Hello Tomorrow, his debut on Concord Records, released on October 12, 2010. Produced by Grammy winners John Burk and Marcus Miller (who also appears on most tracks), the album features a diverse army of high-profile guests: Herb Alpert, Jonathan Butler, Brian Culbertson, Sheila E., Boney James, Jeff Lorber, Keb’ Mo’, Ray Parker, Jr., Lee Ritenour, Christian Scott, and others. Each of the 13 tracks – most of them written by Koz and his collaborators, others penned by friends and legends – focuses on being open to new beginnings, and trusting that the future is unfolding in all the right ways for all the right reasons.
Music – and more specifically, the saxophone – has been Koz’s primary survival tool since his childhood and adolescence in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. He started playing as a means to land a spot in his brother’s band, but somewhere along the way, “the saxophone became my best friend, my most trusted ally, because it enabled me to communicate feelings that I didn’t have the words for. In many ways, it saved my life.”
After earning a degree in mass communications from UCLA, Koz took the leap into a career as a professional musician – a decision that immediately led to touring gigs with vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Bobby Caldwell, keyboardist Jeff Lorber, and pop singer Richard Marx. He signed with Capitol and released his self-titled solo debut in 1990. Noteworthy follow-ups included the gold certified Lucky Man (1993), Off the Beaten Path (1996), and three holiday albums – December Makes Me Feel This Way (1997), Dave Koz & Friends: A Smooth Jazz Christmas (2001), and Memories of a Winter’s Night (2007). The gold-certified The Dance (1999) and Saxophonic (2003) each spawned five Top-5 hits on the Contemporary Jazz charts, and the latter album scored two Grammy nominations.
In addition to the 2007 Christmas album, Koz also released At the Movies that same year. Produced by the legendary Phil Ramone and crafted as a celebration of timeless melodies from the cinema, At the Movies spent 12 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart and scored a second Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album. A year later, Koz followed up with Dave Koz at the Movies Double Feature CD + DVD, which included the original CD with two new bonus tracks, a new DVD, and a track-by-track commentary.
Dave Koz: Greatest Hits, a retrospective collection released in the fall of 2008, debuted at the top of Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Albums chart as well as iTunes’ Jazz Album chart. The album included several of Koz’ hits plus four brand-new tracks.
In addition to compiling an ambitious discography over the past two decades, Koz continues to flex his mass-communications muscles as a radio personality in two different outlets. On weekdays, he hosts an afternoon radio program that’s nationally distributed on the Smooth Jazz Radio Network, and on weekends, he hosts the syndicated Dave Koz Radio Show – now in its 15th year – in approximately 120 markets.
Koz also keeps a hand in various other entrepreneurial and philanthropic ventures. He is the founder of Rendezvous Records, and has served for 17 years as global ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation – an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses and life-altering injuries.
Koz keeps busy on the road with annual summer and holiday tours – the Dave Koz & Friends Smooth Jazz Christmas Tour is about to commence its 13th season – and he will be hosting the next Dave Koz and Friends at Sea Cruise to Alaska aboard Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas.