Dave Koz: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
DK: It took a long time for it all to work, in terms of scheduling, but we were very blessed to have these artists want to be a part of this project.
AAJ: These songs are really loved by so many people did you at all feel pressure to make them your own? Was that on your mind going into the recording process?
DK: As a saxophonist, yes. My natural tendency was to just say, this is going to be my version of, "Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and my version of "The Pink Panther. I learned very early on in the recording process that the biggest person to help me get over that hump was Phil. He taught me early-on that I didn't need to remake these songsit just wasn't necessary. The most important thing was to play them, respect them, and honor the composers, because they are around this many years later because there is nothing wrong with them; so why would you need to change them, just to change them?
At the same time, we decided to find this little hybrid where we would hire the right arranger to arrange the song a slightly different way, using different harmonies, and subtle effects to make this obviously a different arrangement, but yet totally with respect to the original. I think that we found the right balance.
AAJ: Do you think that an artist should ever have to sacrifice their artistic vision in order to achieve or maintain mainstream success?
DK: That is a good question. You have to remember as a recording artist that you are in a businessthe music business. You are making records that are to be sold, so if you are signed to a label, you can't completely ignore that the whole arrangement is one that is a business arrangement: they are signing you to make music that people will buy. Does that mean that every record sells a million copies? Not necessarily. There is tremendous artistic freedom at certain record companies.
I am a co-founder of a company called Rendezvous, and we pride ourselves on giving the artists that we sign the artistic freedom to do what they want. There is also a lot of trust that we have with the artists that we sign, that they are going to create music that we can market and sell. I think it is just a fine line. You have to be able to make music that holds true for you, because you cannot fake it. People are too smart. I can hear certain things any day of the week where people are trying to do something and when they do that, you can hear it. But, when you can combine something that has artistic merit with accessibility, then you have a potential homerun. Nothing is for certain anymore. This business is in a complete state of change.
AAJ: Speaking of Rendezvous, how did that come about? Was that part of your artistic vision?
DK: It was a total organic thing. It was really more or less, meeting the right people: my business partners Hyman Katz who I have known for years. He was working in the music business as I was, and we starting talking about doing something together, and then Frank Cody came into the picture and we morphed our company together to be a record company. We could have done other things too, but I think it was the idea of producing and releasing music that the three of us could all understand, work on and execute. It certainly is challenging.
AAJ: You have signed so many successful artists to your label: The Philippe Saisse Trio, Marc Antoine, Kirk Whalum, the list continues on. That certainly must be rewarding to know that you are helping to bring to fruition the artists' dream, while at the same time realizing your aspirations as well.
DK: Yes, and they are helping me. I have the opportunity to hang out with and help a guy like Kirk Whalum achieve his dreams. He is my favorite living tenor saxophonist. He is incredible, and I get a chance to be on his team. So yes, as much as we might be doing for them, they do for us, too.
AAJ: You have accomplished so much: what has it been like to have such a highly successful radio show and annual cruise phenomenon?
DK: It is fun because they are different offshoots and it allows me to explore different sides of myself. They are both things that were brought up to me, and my first response was, "What?! You want me to host a radio show? I had never done that before, but I said, "I'll do it, and I learned that I really enjoyed it. I had a great time.
The same thing happened a few years ago with the cruise. I was offered the chance to host a cruise, I had never done it, in fact I didn't even like shipsbut, I did it, and I loved it. All the experiences that I have, whether it is television, radio, or touringthey are all part of a whole, they all fit together in a way that I understand, and I enjoy it.
AAJ: That is so important: when you are doing something that you love, success if sure to follow.
DK: Right, absolutely.
AAJ: What are your plans to promote this album? Will you be embarking upon an extensive tour?
DK: Our tour will probably start in the late spring and go all summer, followed by some international touring in the fall, and into winter with our Christmas tourwhich we have been doing for many years. We will be doing around seventy shows this year.