Another sure sign that the holiday season is back on track is when Dave Koz, the famed saxophonist who's a member of the LGBTQ community, embarks on his annual tour. This year, his "Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour", which usually takes place at the Chicago Theatre, will be at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, in nearby Hammond, Indiana.
Koz took a few minutes from his busy schedule to discuss the show and the holiday itself.
Windy City Times: Many people will be happy to know you're touring again. You won't be performing in Chicago, though.
Dave Koz: No, unfortunatelyI think there's another show there [at the Chicago Theatre] so we're going to be in Hammond this year.
WCT: You know that Chicago has more than one venue. [Laughs]
DK: [Laughs] Yeah, I know, and I don't know why we couldn't get a place in Chicago, but hopefully will drive the short distance. We're just happy to be coming to the areaespecially after what everyone has been through. I'm glad that we're happy to tour and see people's faces. Last year was the first time in 30 years I wasn't able to do so.
WCT: Yeah… It's amazing how many things we took for granted before the pandemic that we truly appreciate now.
DK: Yes. It's an amazing thing that we can do that. We've all learned collective and individual lessons. I think, for me, the takeaway was that in the beginning, it was like "Oh, my God. How long is this going to last?" Every person on this planet has learned something together.
WCT: What was one of those personal lessons you learned?
DK: For me, I think [it involved] the joy of being home. I really hadn't been home for 30 years. I've had my foot on the gas for 30 yearsand I've enjoyed that; it's been an amazing life and career. But taking your foot off the gas pedal and having even a little bit more of a regular lifethat forced breakwas really healing, especially at this point of my life. I'm going to be 59 years old and entering another phase of my life.
WCT: Last year, you recorded and released an albumA New Day.
DK: Yes, that's right. That was an amazing experience because I would've never thought that was possible. In those early daysMarch and April 2020I had to grasp at the things that made me feel better because I was so out of sorts, like everybody else, and music is what got me through. [I had] feel-good music heroes, and it dawned on me that I should make others feel better, so I called some collaboratorsco-writers and co-producers.
And the thing that was truly amazing, Andrew, was that everyone was home! There was a bench of musicians available. If you wanted to call the greatest drummer to play your stuff, he'd say, "Please send it over today." I called David Sanbornmy number-one saxophone heroand he was looking for stuff to do, so we wrote a song and he played on it. It was all virtual, and it happened really quickly.
Before I knew it, this album had been completed. It took only two months, and it came out almost exactly 30 years after my debut.
Then in September 2020, we recorded in person in Indianapolis. It was Cory Wong, a phenomenal funky guitar player from the Twin Cities, and there was a 10-piece band. We recorded an album [The Golden Hour] in three days, and that came out in June 2021. It was nice to have a lot of recorded album material during the pandemic.
WCT: And since all these musicians were home, you could've called Beyonce?
DK: [Laughs] That's a different bench, Andrew. What was so amazing, though, is that musicians just want to create. If you can't tour, there were people who did online showsand we became broadcasters in addition to musicians. And I was really proud of our genre of music, jazz, because so many artists came to the rescue.
WCT: Tell me about the Christmas show.
DK: Well, this is a year about great friendships, camaraderie, support and loveall the things we want and have in life. These are my best friends in the world of music and in the world, period; there's a musical kinship. [Singer/guitarist] Jonathan Butler and [trumpet player] Rick Braun have done a number of our shows over the years; it's the first time for [saxophonist] Richard Elliott and this fabulous singer named Rebecca Jade. We always like to mix it up for our guests, and this is our 24th year.
People know it won't be the same exact show but it won't be totally different, either, because Christmas needs to be familiar and nostalgiclike musical comfort food. I really feel passionate about this line-up; I hope this show hits all the right notes and captures the mood of the country at this time. It doesn't necessarily feel like Christmas right now; I'm in Los Angeles and it's 85 degrees. But as soon as we all see each other, it'll feel like Christmas.
WCT: Since we've been talking about the holidays, what's one of your favorite Christmas memories?
DK: Well, for me, I grew up in L.A. so we really didn't celebrate Christmas. But I remember that I visited my friend Danny Katsufrakis, and you couldn't imagine a more Christmas-oriented family. I had this tradition of going there on Christmas Eve, and you had the music, food and tree-trimmingall the trappings. For me, it was so novel and cool. It was there that the music entered my soul in such a profound way; it was the beginning of a love affair with me and Christmas music.
The "Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour" will stop at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, on Friday, Dec. 10. For more information, visit DaveKoz.com/tour.