THE SAXAPHONE—Dave Koz, second from left, with friends Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair, and Gerald Albright.
Saxophone greats Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Adair and Richard Elliot are taking listeners back to a time when music was known for its tight horn sections and people like James Brown, Kool and the Gang, Stevie Wonder and Tower of Power ruled the airwaves with their ‘Summer Horns” collaboration album and subsequent tour which is set to hit Robert Morris University’s Sewall Center Arena on July 12.
“This album represents the very early days in the early 70’s, which was my life at the age of 10 or 11,” said Koz. “The album is feel-good music and it is the personification of summer.”
Koz enlisted the help of his friends Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair to help with the record.
“Being on the road side by side with these colleagues and seeing their process of how they warm up on stage and what they do on stage and how they elicit a response from the audience are components that make a lasting career,” Koz said.
Koz is excited to be returning to the Steel City and bring his vision of summertime to his loyal fans.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh very much. I was in Pittsburgh about a year and a half ago performing with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Marvin Hamlisch at Heinz Hall downtown,” Koz recalls. “It was a wonderful experience and it was musically entertaining.
Pittsburgh is a beautiful town. When I was there I went up on the incline and saw the beautiful view and I had a great lunch of Primanti Bros. I’m hoping to get one this time. When I was there before, Marvin had a big part in me coming to Heinz Hall and he’s no longer with us but when this venue came along we jumped at it.”
Koz, who was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, initially saw the saxophone as a way to help him get into his brother’s band. The horn soon became a lifelong passion. After graduating from UCLA, Koz decided to become a professional musician and was recruited as a touring artist in Bobby Caldwell’s band. He was signed to Capitol Records and released his self-titled debut album in 1990.
He went on to release several albums for the record label including the gold certified “Lucky Man,” Holiday-themed albums “December Makes Me Feel This Way” in 1997 and “Dave Koz and Friends—A Smooth Jazz Christmas.”
Capitol released “Dave Koz Greatest Hits” and it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart and the iTunes Jazz Album Chart. It produced the hits “Castle of Dreams,” “Can’t Let You Go,” featuring Luther Vandross, “Together Again,” “”Honey Dipped” and “All I See is You.”
“Hello Tomorrow,” Koz’s first album for Concord was named Best Smooth Jazz Album of 2010 by iTunes and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
Koz said the Pittsburgh audience will be in for a treat as all the songs on the album are timeless favorites that people—both young and old—will recognize.
“Summer Horns” was released on June 11 on Concord Records and includes guest appearances by trumpeter and flugelhornist Rick Braun, Trombonist Brian Culbertson, and seasoned vocalists Michael McDonald, Jeffrey Osbourne and Jonathan Butler.
“This tour is electric!,” Koz said. “The audience will hear individual hits by each saxophonist and the show will include a four-piece band and audience participation. If you like the sax you are going to see four people doing what they love, working together for the respect of the music. This show is special because I’m not sure this will ever happen again,” he said.
Koz thanks the invention of the Internet and other forms of digital media for giving his music a broader reach.
“We are living in an interesting time with Jazz and Instrumental music because we’re living in a Pop and R & B world and those genres have wide reach, but Jazz and Instrumental music has a large following,” Koz said. “Singers like Janelle Monet, Esperanza Spaulding, India.Arie, these artists are not afraid to bring Jazz music or instrumental music into their music.”
When he isn’t planning his annual collaboration album, Koz enjoys interviewing celebrity musicians for his radio show that has been on the air uninterrupted for 20 years. It started in 1994 and can be heard on 30-40 radio stations across the country (although not in Pittsburgh) and on the Internet.
“I have interviewed Dave Sanborn, George Benson, Stevie Wonder and so many others,” Koz said. “I love it so much! I’m like a kid in a candy store!”
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