How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
There's nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a movie theatre, settling into your seat as the lights go down and, for the next two hours, being transported into a different reality than the normal world we inhabit. Saxophonist Dave Koz understands the thrill of discovery in the dark, and At The Movies is all about the great music of great movies.
To write Koz off as just another smooth jazz superstar minimizes the passion he brings to this project. Paired with the glossy production of Phil Ramone, Koz deftly weaves a sonic tour de force backed by a full orchestra and an impressive and fascinating array of guest vocalists. This is the kind of album that possesses a new surprise each time it is played, starting with a sample of Judy Garland's vocal accompanied by Koz's soaring saxophone on "Over the Rainbow."
Who knew Barry Manilow could provide an unlikely, but quite accomplished interpretation of "Moon River?" Anita Baker never met a song she couldn't over-sing, but she never goes over the top as she delivers a soaring "Somewhere," from West Side Story.
The vastly underrated Vanessa Williams draws favorable comparisons to Barbra Streisand as she turns in a luscious vocal to "The Way We Were." Johnny Mathis turns seventy-two this year, but age hasn't diminished his vocal talent one iota as he makes clear with a dynamic version of "The Shadow of Your Smile," accompanied by the superb styling of Koz and trumpeter Chris Botti.
Slightly less successful is "The Pink Panther," which suffers from a bad case of the cutes (blame that darn cartoon), and "It Might Be You," where a wobbly vocal by India.Arie indicates an unsure grasp of the material. Donna Summer puts considerable distance between her days as a disco diva to become a fairly convincing chanteuse on "A Whole New World," from Disney's Aladdin.
Koz's saxophone playing is superb throughout as he is clearly inspired by the timeless quality of the songs he selected for At the Movies. This is a graceful and impressive effort by Koz which should please his fan base and add to it as he reaches new levels of proficiency and ingenuity.
It's also just plain fun.
Track Listing: Over the Rainbow; Moon River; As Time Goes By: Somewhere; The Shadow of Your Smile; The Pink Panther; The Way We Were; The Summer Knows; It Might Be You; Cinema Paradiso Suite; A Whole New World; Schindler's List; It Might Be You (instrumental); The Shadow of Your Smile (instrumental).
Personnel: Dave Koz: saxophones; Chris Botti: trumpet; Peter White: guitar; Barry Manilow: vocals (2); Anita Baker: vocals (4); Johnny Mathis: vocals (5); Vanessa Williams: vocals (7); India.Arie: vocals (9); Donna Summer: vocals (11).