Along with our friends at Just Koz Entertainment, we are excited to announce the release of Dave Koz‘s new Holiday single, “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas” feat. Jonathan Butler! It’s the first single from Dave’s new Holiday album, Gifts Of The Season.
Legendary lyricist Sammy Cahn once wrote about the holiday season, “It’s that time of year when the world falls in love.” Blessedly for contemporary jazz fans, that means more than simply getting cozy by the fire, hearing sleigh bells ring, dashing through the snow and lighting the tree. If it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there’s musical magic in the air – and Dave Koz, as reliably joyful and magical as Santa, is coming to town once again.
In addition to headlining the 22nd Annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour – a whirlwind of 22 shows in 25 days with Melissa Manchester, Jonathan Butler, Michael Lington and Chris Walker – the chart-topping, GRAMMY®-nominated saxophonist is dropping a special musical present for his loyal fans and kids from 1 to 92. Koz’s latest holiday album, Gifts of the Season – released by the artist’s Just Koz Entertainment, Inc. – makes the ideal companion piece for this year’s slate of shows. Produced, recorded and mixed by Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Toby Keith, Bob James), the multi-faceted, 11-track collection features all four of the artists who are joining Koz on the 2019 tour.
Twenty-two years after releasing his first Christmas-themed set, December Makes Me Feel This Way, Koz takes a very different stylistic approach. In addition to being more instrumental and sax-centric, Gifts of the Season has a buoyant, funky/pop feel that Koz says “takes me back to my smooth jazz roots.” Vibe-wise, their model was Koz’s Gold-certified 1999 album, The Dance – one of his biggest-selling and most critically acclaimed releases. The Dance included the hits “Together Again” and “Can’t Let You Go (The Sha La Song),” which featured the late Luther Vandross.
“Besides being an incredible producer, Darren is a phenomenal saxophonist himself. He understands how to bring out the best in me,” Koz says. “Rather than wear so many hats, I wanted to return to the idea of just showing up and playing the horn – and putting as much emotion and heart into the sax as possible. I know when I put on those headphones, he will have me on the best mic, with exactly the kind of reverb I want to hear. His arrangements were so spot-on that we were able to record 11 tracks in his Denver studio in only three days.”
“Half the album is completely new material for me, and the other half is made up of songs I’ve recorded before. Thanks to Darren’s imaginative arrangements, the songs are delivered in ways that I never could have expected, so they became new again for me,” Koz says. “After completing the basic sessions, we worked with our guest artists in their home studio spaces to capture them at their most intimate, powerful best.”
Jonathan Butler brings his gritty, soul/gospel energy to colorful takes on secular classics from two different eras – a groovin’, African chant-spiced version of the nearly 70-year-old “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” and a swinging, festive bounce through Donny Hathaway’s oft-covered, 70’s smash, “This Christmas.” The latter features Koz on soprano and Rahn keeping it old-school on Wurlitzer and Hammond organ. The saxman recently hired Jones Andyou, a Finnish animator, to create an animated video of “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” featuring images of Koz and Butler. The other recording/touring pal who knocks it out of the park is Chris Walker – singer, bassist and former Al Jarreau musical director. He delivers the perfect blend of solemnity and classic soul power on a sparsely-produced rendition of “Mary Did You Know.”
“One of the reasons I continue to record this music and tour every year is that the holidays are a reminder for all of us about the things that matter most. It’s a time when we seem more capable of living our best lives,” Koz explains. “It’s easy to get off course during the year, especially with all the antagonism and intolerance in our world. The holidays help bring us back to center. That’s what ‘A Prayer for Peace’ is also – a way to express that music is perhaps our one last vestige of uniting people who may be at odds in other areas of life. I am delighted to see that my cruises are populated by people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. They’re a true melting pot that comes together for a week to celebrate music and each other.
“The title Gifts of the Season is personal to me on many levels,” he adds. “It’s not about the presents under the tree, but the gift of showing love and appreciation. Using my saxophone for full expression allows me to show how much I love and care about the fans who have made our holiday show an annual tradition. As I approach the 30th anniversary of the release of my debut album, nobody is more surprised than I am by the career I have had – and the ongoing support I’ve received from my fans. I have been blessed with so many gifts and, in turn, I am honored to have the opportunity to share the gift of music with people around the world. It’s not only been a dream come true, but an honor and a privilege to continue to deliver a message of love, unity and happiness through music.”