Smooth JazzNotes
Dave Koz
Dave Koz released his long awaited Greatest Hits CD this past year. An overachiever, he couldn't just rest on his laurels, adding four new songs to the nine masterpieces he included in this CD. The job of choosing the best of the best was so undaunting that he enlisted his fans to help out with suggestions. Whittling these down and adding a few of his favorites to the four new creations, rounded out the CD to 15 songs. "You Make Me Smile", "All I See Is You" and "Faces Of The Heart', the theme from General Hospital are, of course included. "Can't Let You Go" featuring the late Luther Vandross is a pleasant addition, as is "Love Is On The Way" with Chris Botti on trumpet, "Love Changes Everything" highlighting Brian Mc Knight's beautiful voice, and Norman Brown's guitar on "Honey-Dipped". "Together Again" and "Lullaby For A Rainy Night" are songs written with his brother, Jeff Koz, and his very first #1 song, "Castle of Dreams."

Dave is now on his Dave Koz and Friend's Christmas Tour with guitarists Jonathan Butler and Jeff Golub, and keyboardist Keiko Matsui.
Jonathan Butler is doing a fabulous job covering the vocal duties and we were quite surprised to see Dave and Jeff singing a bit of background vocals. Keiko is masterful on piano, keyboards, and EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). Again Dave has assembled a top notch set of musicians which is evident by the ticket sales, as Dave says they are surpassing last year's totals.

SJN: Dave, you have been producing album after album, 14 in all since 1990 with hit after hit. How did you decide on just 11 songs to put on this Greatest Hits CD?

Dave: It was a daunting task for me! When it concerns your own work you have the least perspective. I didn't know which songs to use so that is why I went to the fans to help me. On my website, we put out a questionnaire. We sent it to tens of thousands of people and we got back a ton of responses of people’s favorite songs. From those responses, we picked the top eight vote getters and those made up the two thirds basis of the album. So, the fans were the one who picked the majority of the older hits that went on the greatest hits project. I did keep a couple of slots to make sure it was well rounded and had some songs that weren’t picked by the fans but were representative of me as an artist. We kept four slots for brand new songs, as well. So, there is a little bit of everything; the basic hits, a few that are off the beaten path, and brand new material, too.

SJN: Nice touch that you placed the first single you released in 1990, as the last song on the CD?

Dave: It’s like a full circle kind of thing. I went back and listened to all this music. I really had not listened to it in years. So, I was kind of wincing, hoping that I liked some of this stuff. I was worried that it had gotten so outdated. Even the production, like on Castle of Dreams, if I produced that today, it would sound a little different, but I am proud to say the melody holds up. That was my general feeling about all of the older music. You make records in a time period and you use all the tools available during that time period to create the sounds that you do, but if the songs hold up, then that is really the proof. Hopefully they will be around for a lot longer, too.

SJN: Can’t Let You Go featuring the late Luther Vandross. Wow, what an experience to work with such an immensely talented person. Can you tell us about this experience?

He’s one of the greatest singers, in any genre and I had gotten to know him, a little bit socially. I asked him to sing on this and I was amazed that he said, ‘Yes’. We were in New York and he came to the studio, actually he beat me to the studio, that’s what a professional he was. I arrived early and I found him singing on the couch in the studio drinking a cup of tea, by himself, no entourage, no bodyguard. We went into the studio and he sang the ‘sha-la’s’ and we were out of there in 20 minutes. I have never heard ‘sha-la’s’ sung better than he did. He is such a beautiful person, inside and out. Fantastic artist and one of the most kind, giving human beings that I ever met. I am very blessed that I got to know him and got to document that relationship with a song.

SJN: Reading the CD jacket provides insight into your life and the inspirations that have made you who you are today. Jeff Lorber has been very instrumental in your career. Can you tell us more about this relationship?

I don’t think I would be talking to you today if it wasn’t for Jeff Lorber. He was the first person that I met in my formative years, as an up and coming musician who said, ‘I think you can become a recording artist.; That never dawned on me, I never grew up thinking that I could be a recording artist. I was very happy being a sideman and a studio musician, or maybe not even doing music at all, it wasn’t like I was fully planning on doing that. But when I met him and auditioned for his band, that very first day he said, ‘I think you should make a record.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He stuck by his belief and helped me make a demo. Which eventually got me signed to Capitol Records in 1987 and that has been my home for the last 20 years. He saw something in me that he could nurture and help bring to fruition. He has been my life long friend, a great supporter and we have produced tons of music together. I’m very proud of that relationship!  

SJN: Why did you decide to include four new songs on the CD?

This was my very first ever greatest hits album and it was important to me to not only say this is where I have been, but this is where I am going too. Using it as an opportunity to say thank you for being such a great loyal supporter and here’s some new music, as well. It’s a little bit of a postcard from the past, with a little bit of a look to the future to see where the music is going. I’m particularly proud of those four songs, I wrote a lot of music and I whittled it down to those four that we wanted to include. One of which has become a new hit and spent seven weeks at number one, I’m so excited! It’s called, Life In The Fast Lane, and we have another single that is coming right after the first of the year that is called, Bada Bing, which I wrote with Rick Braun and features my touring partner, Jeff Golub on guitar. That’s a real fun song! There’s a vocal song that features the gospel great BeBe Winans, I really love that song, it’s very meaningful to me, it called I Can. And then another song called, And Then I Knew which was a collaboration with one of my oldest and dearest friends who is a rock producer by the name of Rob Cavallo.

SJN: You write with your brother Jeff a lot. Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with him?

He is my older brother, so we have a tremendous amount of history that we call upon in our musical life, as well as our personal life. Of all the collaborators, I have had the most success with him, my brother Jeff. He’s a very talented guy. He has primarily made his living being behind the scenes of the music world mostly doing music for commercials, and television, and films. He has been a huge supporter and great collaborator of mine and he will always be my older brother and with that comes some of that older brother younger brother thing, but when we get into the room together to write that song, something happens, a musical kinship, a brotherhood!

SJN: This retrospect album leads you to look back, when you were a member of Bobby Caldwell’s band, did you ever dream you would be where you are today?

Dave: No, Absolutely not, It is one thing to have dreams, but the actuality can supersede and go farther than the dreams. That I can play the saxophone and travel the world to these far-out countries and all over the US, meet all of these people, share all this music. I

could never even have imagined this, let alone dream this. Looking back on the 20 years I have been doing this and having been able to experience the things that I have, is really just a blessing. I am very, very appreciative, and that’s what keeps me going, the concept of what is next, what is the next adventure. How can I continue to share my music. Kirk Whalum said to me many years ago that has always stayed with me that the talent that we have, everyone has been given a gift, but it isn’t really ours, it has been given to me in this lifetime and it is my job to shepherd it, share it, and spread that joy that is uniquely coming through me with as many people as possible.

SJN: Next year, you will be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. How exciting is this?

Dave: Talk about the reality exceeding the dream, I would have never thought about that! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, comes that opportunity, it was like ‘What, how did that happen!’ But, it’s pretty cool! I try not to make too much out of it, but I do find myself thinking about one day walking down the street in Hollywood and seeing my name on a star. The thing that is so cool about that is that it is permanent. No matter where in the world you are, people know about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it’s really famous. There are only a couple thousand people involved, so to be a part of that is really cool. I’ll be there weekly with some Windex cleaning it up.

SJN: In 2004, you were chosen as one of People Magazine’s "50 Hottest Bachelors". Has this made any difference in your life?

No, you can’t put too much energy or importance into those kind of things. I was happy to be in People Magazine. The reason why that was there was because I had come out in the Advocate Magazine a month before. The truth is that I couldn’t get into People no matter how much my publicist tried. They were just not interested. Then the Advocate article came out and they called that they wanted me in the magazine. What I took out of that was further authenticity that if you show up fully and completely as to who you are, living your life as to who you are as pure as possible, then the rewards and gifts will come.

SJN: When we last spoke, you were preparing to leave on your 2007 cruise and Heather Mills had bid $30,000 for her cabin through a Starlight Starbright Foundation. Did she attend the cruise?

Dave: She did not, but her brother went. She was having all that craziness with her divorce, so she was not able to come, but I think her brother enjoyed it.

We did our cruise for 2008 last month and now with the economic wows, we decided next year, instead of having two cruises, one hosted by me and one hosted by Wayman, we decided to have a super-cruise which is in January 2010. We pulled out all the stops! Wayman and I will be co-hosting it and he is one of my favorite people in the whole world. It will be a very special, extremely special cruise coming up in 2010. Once Smooth Jazz fans go on a cruise, I think they realize how special and unlike anything else that experience is.

SJN: Can you tell us a little bit about your recent cruise?

Dave: The cruise was to the Caribbean on the Holland-America Line. It featured Tower of Power and it was a dream of mine to play with them. The first record I ever bought was Tower of Power’s Back To Oakland. We had Candy Dulfer, George Duke, Najee, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Jeff Golub, Jonathan Butler. There were about forty musicians in total. Music, conversation, Q&A’s, behind the scenes, one on one’s with every artist. It was absolutely one of the most extraordinary weeks.

SJN:  Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about why country music is thriving. The article acknowledged the founding of the Country Music Association, its formation of the Country Music Foundation and the televised Country Music Awards as primary factors in that format's rise to a radio giant for nearly 50 years. Smooth Jazz has tried to create these kinds of institutions, but all have faltered. What is your take on this?

I think that we are talking about a niche format. Country music is such a mass format that appeals to a huge audience. Jazz is by its very nature is a niche audience so it requires a lot more dedication and commitment to just keeping it alive. It is the true art form of America and we have to protect it and nurture it. Right now we are in a very precarious situation with radio stations flipping formats and CD sales are down, for every format. It is up to the people who love it and care about Smooth Jazz to keep the word out there. To get people to come to the shows, to pick up CD’s, and to listen to the stations; we have to keep supporting the music.

SJN: The Christmas tour this year features a diverse group of artists, guitarists Jeff Golub and Jonathan Butler, and keyboardist Keiko Matsui. Please tell us about the tour?

Dave: We have been having a fantastic time. Variety is the word that comes to mind, we have Keiko on the one hand who brings this elegance and world understanding, on the other hand you have Jeff Golub who rocks out and brings that swagger to the stage, and then we have Jonathan Butler who this year has been our singer and he has been just wowing the audiences. There’s a real beautiful chemistry between the four of us. There’s a real collaboration and kinship between the four artists on stage. Of course, we have a great band, great staging and lighting, and this is the first time we are using video in our show. I am very proud of it! I was worried about ticket sales with the economy, not only are we on par, we are exceeding last year’s total. When you take a minute to understand it, in times of great uncertainty, in these difficult times, you look for the things that give you comfort and warmth. Holiday music, Christmas music is like comfort food, musical comfort food. I see a healing in the faces of the people who come to the shows. I’m glad, and honored that we are able to provide that during the month of December.

SJN: You are truly an entrepreneur! A syndicated radio show, cooking, cookies, and now wine. Please tell us about your latest venture?

Yes, please tell people that they can go to my website to order the wine. We made it with Wilson Creek Winery, a fantastic winery in Temecula and the proceeds from the wine sales go to the Starlight Starbright Foundation, which has been my pet charity for years and years. It’s a delicious California Cabernet that I am proud to put my name on.

SJN: Thank you so much for sharing with us!

Dave: Thank you!


Paramount Theatre

Oakland, CA

Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour
Paramount Theatre
Oakland, CA
Dave Koz
Jonathan Butler
Jeff Golub
Keiko Matsui
Dave Koz CD's
Dave Koz Greatest Hits

September 16, 2008
At The Movies Double Feature DVD/CD

February 12, 2008
Memories Of A Winter's Night

September 18, 2007
Read Smooth Jazz Notes interview and photos with Dave from August 2007 at www.koz0807.htm
Smooth Jazz Notes photos of Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Show 2007 at
Find out more about Dave Koz at

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