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Dave Koz: A Holiday Tradition

Cheryl Hughey By

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Dave Koz and a host of special guests have launched the annual Dave Koz Smooth Jazz Christmas Tour. Marc Antoine (guitar), Chris Botti (trumpet), Bobby Caldwell (vocals) and Brian Culbertson (piano/trombone) will be joining Koz for the festive holiday experience. After wowing audiences in Lake Tahoe and the West Coast, the tour will visit mostly major venues to include Atlanta and Chicago.

Interestingly enough, Koz will now be the bandleader to the guy who gave him his start. After graduating college, Koz immediately went to work for the legendary crooner Bobby Caldwell in 1986. This first gig would prove to be a launching pad for a Koz solo career that now includes a long-standing tenure as a DJ with WAVE in Los Angeles and ownership of his own record label, Rendevous. Koz feels that he "owes a lot of success to Caldwell." Having Caldwell on stage is a bit of a nostalgic trip. "To be reunited with Bobby on stage for the first month of Christmas shows is awesome. He was born to sing those Christmas songs . . . it's the way those songs should be heard."

All the artists featured on the tour stand alone as outstanding talents. Flamenco guitarist Marc Antoine introduced Mediterraneo under the Rendevous label in September. Although it maintains a smooth jazz presence, the album is remarkable in the fact that it includes a host of musical influences. Hip-hop rhythms and a touch of Latin spice make for a saucy mix. Songs range from a stepping "Cubanova" to the touchingly gentle "Alejandro's Lullaby." A prolific songwriter, Antoine is already working on another CD.

Also released in September, A Thousand Kisses Deep is a bold move that further solidifies trumpeter Chris Botti's presence as a talent that isn?t afraid to take a few risks. Balancing the thin line between contemporary jazz and pop instrumental music, this album flirts within the realms of chill. Botti recently re-released the holiday album, December as well. Full of emotional sensuality, this trumpeter is the artist to watch in 2004.

Earlier in the year, Brian Culbertson rocked the jazz scene with the daringly funky, Come on Up. Culbertson served previously as a sideman to Koz. However, this young musician has managed to quickly stake his claim on the jazz scene. Hitting the tour road hard in 2003, Culbertson grabbed the attention of critics with high-energy performances and bold showmanship. Taking a few tips from Koz along the way, his dedication to the actual presentation of the music has garnered him a growing fan base.

Antoine and Botti just recently finished The Saxophonic Tour with Koz and additional special guest, Jeff Lorber. Critics heralded the dynamic performances with rave reviews. Although the album, Saxophonic, went on sale a few days past the Grammy deadline, the "Honey-Dipped" track is up for a nomination as a Best Pop Instrumental Performance. A veteran Grammy nominee, fans will be closely watching to see if Koz wins this one.

Keeping with the spirit of the season, Koz is also involved in a very special charity event with the Starlight Children's Foundation. Fans can enter to win a one-on-one conversation with Koz and other prizes at www.davekoz.com. Proceeds will deliver bears "to hospitalized children all across the country," according to the website.


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