Dave Koz – Gifts Of The Season

Twenty-two years after releasing his first Christmas-themed set, GRAMMY®-nominated saxophonist Dave Koz takes a very different stylistic approach on his new holiday album, Gifts of the Season. The 11-track collection will be released on Friday, October 11, via Just Koz Entertainment, Inc. Produced by Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Toby Keith, 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. Closing out the set is “A Prayer for Peace,” a new song penned by Koz.

Gifts of the Season is the ideal companion piece for the 22nd Annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour – a whirlwind of 22 shows in 25 days – with Jonathan Butler, Melissa Manchester, Michael Lington and special guest Chris Walker. All four of Koz’s tour mates appear on the new album. Butler and Lington are also releasing Christmas albums this fall so – in a first for the tour – the shows will feature material from three brand new holiday albums. The run kicks off on November 29 at the Van Wezel in Sarasota, FL and includes shows at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, NY (December 8), the Plaza Theatre in El Paso, TX (December 16) and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Southern California (December 20 and 21). Tickets are available at http://www.davekoz.com. See below for itinerary.

“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,” says Dave Koz. “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. 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.”

To bring an added warmth to the songs, Koz and Rahn recorded the basic tracks in the producer/musician’s Denver studio, then visited the guest artists to record them in their home studios. “We wanted to capture them at their most intimate, powerful best,” explains Koz.

Approaching Mariah Carey’s “All I Want Is You” as a soulful ballad, GRAMMY winner Melissa Manchester changes the entire emotional trajectory of the song. Koz notes, “It’s one of the most played holiday songs on the radio, but because it’s so up-tempo, it’s easy to overlook that it’s got a lot of meat on its bones. Melissa’s version makes you stop and pay attention.” Likewise, pairing the intensity of Michael Lington’s alto saxophone with Koz’s tenor fuels an explosive funk/soul romp through “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

Jonathan Butler brings his gritty, soul-gospel energy to 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 70’s smash, “This Christmas,” which features Koz on soprano sax and Rahn on Wurlitzer and Hammond organ. Singer, bassist and former Al Jarreau musical director Chris Walker also knocks it out of the park, delivering the perfect blend of solemnity and classic soul power on a sparsely-produced rendition of “Mary Did You Know.”

Another vocalist Koz is excited to showcase on Gifts of the Season is Matt Cusson, whose Take-6-like vocal textures combine with Koz’s cool tenor to bring renewed poignancy to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Koz and Rahn’s dance-jam spin on Wham’s mid-80’s smash, “Last Christmas,” makes it one of the album’s most compelling instrumental tracks. “Never in a million years did I think it would make a great vehicle for the sax,” Koz says, “but it was such a blast to play, so funky and danceable.” See below for the album’s full track listing.

“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. 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 all the ongoing support 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.”

Get the album on Amazon.com.

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