by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
WITH DAVE KOZ
You might know Dave Koz, the musician. But he's more than that. Much more. He's a radio host, cruise ship entertainer, online vlogger, winemaker, and a restaurant partner of the recently opened Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge, in Beverly Hills. When the multiple Grammy nominee isn't in the recording studio putting the finishing touches on a new album, such as 2014's The 25th of December, he's definitely not sitting at home flipping through channels with a remote control; this man keeps himself occupied. Koz, who is openly Gay, is one of the most accomplished saxophonists in the world and a regular headliner on the jazz touring circuit. But this spring and summer, you'll find him circling the globe with good friend Barry Manilow on his 'One Last Time' tour, which settles into Key Arena on Wednesday, May 27. For tickets, view the ad in this week's Seattle Gay News, or visit axs.com. Though he's very busy, I managed to trade emails with Dave Koz as he was en route to Seattle. Here's what this musician/restauranteur/cruise ship performer/winemaker/vlogger shared with me inside The Music Lounge.
Albert Rodriguez: You're coming to Seattle, as part of Barry Manilow's 'One Last Time!' tour. Have you two been friends, or known each other, for a long time?
Dave Koz: It was back in 2001 that I first met Barry, when he invited me to play on his album At The Mayflower. Little did I know that he'd become such a great mentor and friend all these years. It's really been amazing - and especially this year, getting the opportunity to spend much more time together on the road. I feel like a total 'sponge'; it almost is like being in a 'master class,' as there really is no better entertainer out there. I've learned so much from the guy, and at almost 72 years old, he's still putting on one hell of a show! It's been a total blast to do this tour with him&we've been having a LOT of fun!
Rodriguez: What comes to mind when you hear the word 'Seattle'?
Koz: I know this might sound a bit odd&but, Ivar's Fish Bar for fried clams. For me, spending so much time on the road, cities become interchangeable with the great food I've eaten there, and while I KNOW there are amazing places to eat in Seattle, for me any visit to this city has to include a quick stop for clams and a nice bowl of chowder! Haha. Strange, but true. It's also home to some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet. We took our first cruise to Alaska out of Seattle, so that also makes the city unforgettable for me as well. Oh, and seeing a fish thrown 50 feet at Pike Place Market, too. Oh, and the best coffee&ever. Is that enough? I could go on and on&
Rodriguez: For the Barry Manilow show, can you tell us anything about your performance - how long is your set, will you play a variation of music spanning your entire catalog, will you have a full band or will you play solo?
Koz: I have my wonderful band with me and we have a 30-minute show. Turns out, we can cram a whole lot in to a half hour! I do some of my better known songs, and a medley of tunes I grew up listening to on my bedroom stereo on 45s; it's a lot of fun, and it's been getting the crowd in the 'mood for Manilow,' as I like to put it. We're also doing a sax version of 'Let It Go' from the movie Frozen, which is going over great. It's refreshing for me, that after 25 years of making music (my first album came out in 1990), I am now once again having to prove myself to a brand new audience. It's a great challenge, and huge honor, to go out there night after night and get these folks ready for their favorite artist.
Rodriguez: Congratulations on your 25th anniversary as a recording artist! How are you celebrating?
Koz: Thank you! I know. It sounds kinda weird, as I still feel like a kid starting out&just a lot wiser! We're releasing a 25th Anniversary 'Collaboration' project this summer (to go along with our summer tour) that celebrates all the amazing people I've been so blessed to make music with over the years, folks like Luther Vandross, Michael McDonald, Stevie Nicks, Toby Keith, Herb Alpert, Stevie Wonder and of course, Mr. Manilow!
Rodriguez: For anyone unfamiliar with 'smooth jazz,' what's the big difference between this sub-genre and traditional jazz?
Koz: I'm not a big fan of labels, as I think they can fence in artistry. But generally speaking, Contemporary (or Smooth) jazz tends to focus more on melodic information and groove, while traditional jazz is more about improvisation. But both styles of music have elements of both.
Rodriguez: You have an annual cruise called 'Dave Koz and Friends at Sea Cruise.' What can passengers expect on this voyage?
Koz: It's seven days in exotic locations on the planet, and every day and every night you get to see your favorite artists do their thing. And then you get to 'hang' with them all day, too! We're about to do our ninth annual cruise, which sold out a year in advance! It's all about the experience, creating this community of music lovers who want to celebrate the very best life has to offer - travel, food, wine, music, other cultures. And the greatest thing is, when you step on board, no one is a stranger. Everyone is bound by their mutual love of the music.
Rodriguez: What's a must-order item at your restaurant, Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge? Does the lounge feature live music nightly?
Koz: We have music Tuesday through Sunday night, and Sunday Brunch as well. And, ooh, that's a tough question because our chef, the amazing Scott Howard, is a genius!! But if I had to choose&I'd opt for the Parmesan-Encrusted Chilean Sea Bass. He also happens to make the best meatballs on the planet. And I love a good meatball!
Rodriguez: Have you performed at any Gay weddings or receptions?
Koz: I actually officiated at my two friends' Adam and Alex's wedding about a year ago. I went online and got my certificate, so I think it's legal! Haha. But it was a very special day&it was a total surprise, too&their family and friends were simply invited to a party and at the event, at a particular time, they changed jackets, I went to the microphone, Adam and Alex stood right in front of me and as the people in the room started to understand what was happening, the place went bananas!! It was so special. And yes, I ended up playing a song for them as well.
Rodriguez: I notice that your wine is available on Amazon.com. What would you pair your Pinot Noir with?
Koz: The wine is also available at the restaurant, and so I know for a fact that it goes with lamb chops PERFECTLY!!!
Rodriguez: Would you possibly return to Seattle this year for a headlining performance?
Koz: We're coming back to Seattle on September 18th at the Red Hook Brewery!! It'll be part of our 'Summer Tour' with trumpeter Rick Braun and an amazing singer named Kenny Lattimore. It's a benefit for a wonderful charity called 'In Concert For Cancer,' a Seattle-based organization started by my friend Michele Abrams, dedicated to raising money to find a cure for cancer. It's open to the public and I'm sure it'll be another beautiful memory of Seattle for me to add to the already long list.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!