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Dave Koz: The Soundtrack of Our Lives


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I just wanted to honor the composers and treat the songs with respect. I realized very early on in the process, that as long as I did that - - the songs would never let me down.
Dave Koz The name Dave Koz is synonymous with his craft. He is a fixture within the contemporary jazz community, and deservedly so. Koz is quite occupied as he is very much in demand. He is a world renowned artist whose career has spanned twenty years and is, even now, advancing full steam ahead. But, he is also the host of the tremendously successful syndicated, Dave Koz Radio Show and co-founder of Rendezvous Entertainment—which represents such famed artists as Patti Austin, Michael Lington, and Kyle Eastwood, among many others.

His latest Capitol release, At The Movies, is captivating and sure to appeal to an eclectic audience of all ages.

AAJ's Katrina-Kasey Wheeler spoke to Koz to discuss his CD release, and his plans for 2007.

All About Jazz: Your release, At The Movies is sure to be tremendously successful. It is an impressive album.

Dave Koz: I feel the same way; I am crazy about this album. I love it, because it is me. It is what I love, I love these songs, and I love the movies. When you do something that you really put your heart and soul into and it feels right, you always hope that people will feel that on the other end when they hear the CD. If listeners feel that, then that is the best thing that they can say to me.

AAJ: What led you to record this particular type of album, apart from your love of the movies? Do you feel the timing is right?

DK: I wanted to do something different and absolutely, this is a project that combines the two things that I love most: music and the movies. I am happiest when I am watching a movie. I love that feeling of being taken away completely and I am certainly not the only one.

Here we are in 2007 with so many things competing for our attention in the entertainment sector, and yet movies which are so old fashioned, are still so popular with all age groups in every culture. There is something about that experience that is unlike anything else, and the music from movies is unlike any other music because it has this extra power. It is not just the emotion from the song itself, but the emotion that comes with that song that reminds someone of when they saw that movie, who they were with and what they were going through in their life at that time period.

These songs and themes have a lot going for them—there is a lot of meat on the bone for me to sink my teeth into whether I am playing an instrumental or accompanying one of the vocalists telling the story. It is a very rich project. Working with Phil Ramone, who is one of the all time legendary music producers has given me a chance to really flex some new muscles.

AAJ: When a project is released that allows us to reconnect with much-loved songs, it is, by and large, widely welcomed from listeners. It is nice to see the appetite of audiences reverting back to songs where everything was about the lyrics and melodies as opposed to a lot of music today, where contrived images are taking precedence over the actual artistry.

DK: Also, this album is very different from what I have done in the past, where there are a lot of fast and frenetic drum machines, loops, and percussion—fast and funky. This album is so slow motion, it is really relaxed and it really takes its time and develops. I don't think that we set out to do that, but that is just the way the music is. It goes to a different section of the heart in some weird way that I really can't put my finger on.

These songs are still popular so many years later for a very good reason—they are really good. I just wanted to honor the composers and treat the songs with respect. I realized very early on in the process, that as long as I did that—the songs would never let me down.

AAJ: There are so many great songs to choose from. Was it difficult for you to decide which songs to record?

DK: That was the hardest part of the project for sure because, if you just opened it up to songs that specifically came out of the movies—you were talking about a lot of music there. I remember getting into very good-natured arguments with my producer Phil Ramone. We would sit there and say, "What are you crazy? This song has got to be on the album! Then Phil would say, "You are out of your mind that song should be on the B-list. Probably two months of that went by before we collected these twelve songs, and there are so many that we didn't do that would make a very nice sequel.

AAJ: Perhaps that will be in the future!

DK: I would like it.

AAJ: There are so many talented artists that you collaborated with on this project. Barry Manilow, Chris Botti, Anita Baker and the list continues on. Was that part of a clear vision?

DK: With songs like "Moon River it is such an iconic piece of music—you can't have just anybody sing it. You need to have a singer that matches the weight of that song. It is funny with vocalists on this album, it just happened. I look back when people have asked me that question, "How did you assign the singer to the song, and it was like I didn't even know how that happened. I woke up one day and I looked at who we got and I had to ask myself, "How did this happen? How did Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, India.Arie, Vanessa Williams, Anita Baker, and Donna Summer—all these amazing artists become part of this project?

When I look back and try to explain it, really, the songs found the artists rather than the artists finding the songs. It was kismet. I was interviewing Anita Baker for my radio show and very matter of fact, she asked me, "What are you working on? and I said, "I am making this movie record, and she asked, "What songs are you doing? and I said, "'Somewhere,' from Westside Story. Anita said, "What? I love that song! and she started to sing it. It was great! I said to myself, "Should I do it, should I ask her?

Finally I asked her if she would be open to singing it on the album, and she said, "I thought you would never ask. Two weeks later, she was in the studio singing on that song, and that is the way it happened. Johnny Mathis was the same way. India.Arie grew up having her mother sing, "It Might Be You, to her, which is her mother's favorite song. When she found out about the project she said, "That is the song I would like to sing, from Tootsie, so we said, absolutely it is yours!


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