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Dave Koz keeps blowing his horn for Christmas

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

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With 19 years of an annual holiday tour in his pocket, Dave Koz has become one of entertainment's kings of Christmas.

Not bad for a nice Jewish boy from Los Angeles.

Nevertheless, the saxophonist has spent most of the past two decades gathering some musical friends and hitting the road playing seasonal favorites. The enterprise has outlasted the Smooth Jazz tag Koz and company once labored under and is now jsut an accepted, and expected, part of the annual December Christmas parade.

We caught up with Koz, 53, at home in L.A., to talk about this year's edition of the tour -- and what he has planned for next year's 20th...

Count Koz among those who didn't expect to him to be on the road celebrating Christmas for 19 years. "I never thought in a million years we'd be doing it this long," he says. "There's a familiarity thing that happens with this music; People hold on to these traditions and somehow we've become part of a lot of people's traditions. It's amazing. The most surprised person about this whole thing is me."

Why does it work? It's the songs, stupid. "There's such a warmth and energy to these songs," Koz explains. "They make people feel good, so innocent. Especially coming off this last couple months of just craziness and divisiveness, it's so reassuring. It does a lot of good for all of our hearts on stage to see people melting a little bit and letting their guard down and hopefully be a little kinder in the holiday season and the new year. We need more of that, common kindness."

Although his own family celebrated Hanukkah, Koz says Christmas always held a certain intrigue for him while growing up. "We never had a Christmas tree but I loved going to my friends' houses for Christmas," he recalls. "I loved all those big Christmas Eve dinners, the music, Christmas day, opening presents. Even though it wouldn't be Christmas for me I loved watching everybody else open presents. I always loved that experience I'm happy I get to be a part of this."

Koz still carries warm memories about being on the road with Barry Manilow during his "One More Time! Tour last year and this. "I just met up with some Manilow fans the other night in Naples," Koz says. "They were there and came backstage and said, 'We saw you with Barry in Florida. This is our first Christmas show and we won't miss any more in the future.' So touring with (Manilow) was an amazing experience for me. He went above and beyond to truly make his fans really aware of me. It was really sweet. I don't know if he'll ever do a big tour like that again, but I'm happy to play with him any time he wants."

Koz is already making plans for the 20th anniversary of his Christmas Tour, including a reunion of the original tour crew of David Benoit, Peter White and Rick Braun in 2017. "A lot of very wonderful energy will be on that, kind of make it full circle," Koz says. "I would love to go in the studio with the guys, maybe do a little retrospective and some new music. I think it deserves to have a celebration of some sort, so next year will be very special."

Dave Koz Christmas Tour with Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and Valerie Simpson

8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 E. Foruteen Mile Road, Warren.

Tickets are $25-$175.

Call 586-268-3200 or visit andiamoitalia.com.

Web Site: www.andiamoitalia.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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