Nov 27, 2019
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. It’s a time when we seem more capable of living our best lives. It’s easy to get off course during the rest of the year, especially the way the world is these days with all of its antagonism and intolerance. The holidays help bring us back to center.” – Dave Koz
If it’s approaching December 1, then it must be time for either a new Dave Koz Christmas CD, or a Holiday tour. Lucky us in 2019 – we get both.
Since 1997’s December Makes Me Feel This Way, saxophonist Koz has released five CDs of music for the holiday season featuring his distinctive sax sound. His latest release, Gifts of the Season, is the 6th in the series, and features the talents of Jonathan Butler (guitar and vocals), Melissa Manchester (vocals), Michael Lington (sax) and Chris Walker (bass). Produced by Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Bob James), the album brings a buoyant, soul/funk/pop feel to Christmas classics across different eras, and sheds new light on their rich musicality and lyrical depth.
All of the artists who contributed to Gifts of the Season are onboard for the tour that begins in Sarasota Florida on Friday November 29. Koz calls the tour “not for the faint of heart”, as the group will spread holiday cheer across the States in 22 shows over 25 nights. Go to www.davekoz.com to see if they will be in your area over the next month.
Koz’s Gifts of the Season is a slightly different take on Christmas music, compared to albums like The 25th of December and A Smooth Jazz Christmas. Perhaps it is producer Rahn’s funkier touch, or maybe that Koz is just interested in bringing a new and different sounds to songs we all know too well. But in any event, this is less a “brandy by the fireplace” album than a “Dancing around the Christmas Tree” affair.
Saxophonist Lington, a native of Denmark, also has a new Christmas CD, A Foreign Affair Christmas, where he calls on friends as varied as Vine Gill, Russ Freeman and Rick Braun to take on Christmas classics like “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night.” Melissa Manchester, a Grammy winning pop singer with hits like “Midnight Blue”, “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “You Should Heart How She Talks About You” doesn’t have a Christmas album to promote. However, she has a memorable guest appearance on Koz’s album with a slowed down “All I Want For Christmas is You”, plus a guest duet with Keb’ Mo’ on his latest release of “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.”
Podcast 713 is full of conversations I had with Koz, Lington and Ms. Manchester. The Podcast is highlighted by musical selections from their recent holiday recordings: Koz’s nondenominational “Prayer for Peace”” and an EDM-inspired take on “Winter Wonderland”; the Scandinavian Christmas standard “A Child is Born in Bethlehem” by Lington along with his take on the Donny Hathaway classic “This Christmas” sung by Vince Gill; and Koz and Ms. Manchester on “All I Want for Christmas is You” as well as her duet with Keb’ Mo’ on “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.”