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Dave Koz's Christmas show goes virtual, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2020

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It's been 23 years since Dave Koz started his annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour. And after all that time the saxophonist and radio host wasn't going to let a pandemic stop the music

But this year, like so many of his colleagues, Koz is taking the show virtual. Recruiting friends such as David Benoit -- who conceived the tour with him in 1997 -- along with tour veterans Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Peter White and vocalist Rebecca Jade. The show begins streaming at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, and will feature songs from last year's "Gifts of the Season" album.

Koz, 57, is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of his debut album, while "A New Day," his first set of all-original material in 10 years, came out during October...

Koz says by phone that this year's challenges -- including the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and political turmoil -- strengthened his resolve to make sure the Christmas show happened in some shape or form. "If there was ever a year we needed the holidays, need the celebratory and healing power, especially with holiday music, this is it. I think in our DNAs we crave, especially at this time of year, to hear these melodies and these songs we've heard so many times and just make us feel good. So I thought, 'If we can't be out there, how can we at least provide the healing comfort of this music in a way we can actually pull off this year?' That's when the idea to do a livestream happened."

Koz says the tour veterans "jumped at the chance" to be part of the virtual show, which allowed him to recruit both recent and past participants into the lineup. "It's kind of an all-star cast this year. I get to have my buddies of all time, like David Benoit, who was co-creator of the tour, and Peter White, who was there at the very beginning, for at least 10 years, and comes back for anniversary years. It's a little like a family reunion in that way."

As its title suggests, Koz says the concept of this year's show is "to just do the greatest hits from years past and share that with our fans. I think everybody's got some kind of PTSD this year, so our goal, like it always is, is to provide some comfort and some fun and some mirth and just a chance to step away from everything and enjoy the holidays."

Koz, it should be noted, is Jewish, but he says there's never been any reservation about becoming "Santa Koz" once a year. "We always celebrated Hanukkah in our home, but my mom and dad loved Christmas, too, and there was a genuine love for the holiday season and for that music. My parents were Great American Songbook fans -- Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, the Bing Crosbys and Sammy Davis Jr.s, and their (Christmas) music was always played in the house. And the whole idea for the Christmas tour happened when my dad passed; David Benoit had just lost his mom, and it was his idea -- 'Let's go out at holiday time and make music for our parents.' So this is a way to honor our families, using holiday music."

In addition to writing and recording the "A New Day" album Kos also finished another album that he recorded over Labor Day weekend in Minnesota. "It's really kind of been a very prolific time for me, writing music and recording music, during the pandemic. I never would've thought that in a million years." And being creative, Koz says, was the best way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his self-titled debut album. "I can't even believe that. It's a hard concept to get through my thick skull, 'cause it doesn't feel like that (long). It feels like I'm a new artist, even though I've been doing this a long time."

Dave Koz & Friends -- Jonathan Butler, Rick Braun, David Benoit, Rebecca Jade and others -- play "The Greatest Hits of Christmas 2020" at 8 p.m. Tickets via davekoz.com. Proceeds go to the Starlight Children's Foundation.

Web Site: www.davekoz.com

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