Out saxophonist (and proud oenophile) Dave Koz turns collaboration into musical art
MARK LOWRY | Special Contributor
Meyerson Symphony Center,
2301 Flora St. June 19. 8 p.m. $35–$85. DallasSymphony.com
Saxophone player Dave Koz likes to have several things on his plate, so it makes sense that he’d want to pair them with wine — his own wine. He admits to not being a lover of vino, but an outright oenophile who drinks and appreciates it.
He describes his brand’s cabernet, from the Napa Valley vineyard Vinum Cellar (there’s also a Koz chardonnay and sauvignon blanc), as “very fruity, it’s fresh,” before settling on this: “You know, the best way to describe it is friendly. You share it with people you love and it puts you in a good mood.”
While that description might also go for any number of vintages and varietals, it certainly is a good summation of the man Dave Koz, who performs at the Meyerson on Father’s Day.
He has released 12 albums in a 23-year career, including 2010’s Hello Tomorrow, which, as he has done time and time again, is filled with collaborations from important names from the music world at large, including Herb Alpert, Keb’ Mo’ and Sheila E. And as with Hello Tomorrow, which fuses blues, funk and other styles into Koz’s smooth sax sounds, his music puts the listener in a good mood.
That also goes for when he’s tackling heavier themes, such as what inspired his latest album: The constant wave of change sweeping everyone’s lives … including his own.
“I was reeling with my own personal changes, including my mom passing away a few years ago, and the reality of that,” says Koz. “There were also a lot of changes in my business, in my daily life. The more I started talking to people about it, I realized there were so many people waking up going, ‘Wow, it’s a lot different than I thought it was going to look.’”
The music he wrote for songs like “When Will I Know For Sure” and “Anything’s Possible” tap into that, which is more open to interpretation when it’s mostly instrumental music (he also sings vocals on his take on the Burt Bacharach song “This Guy’s in Love With You”).
“Instrumental music is an interesting thing, because we’re living in a vocal world,” he says. “There’s a transparency that comes when someone plays the saxophone or piano or guitar that allows the listener to have a more personal experience with that song. The idea is for me to put as much emotional information into that saxophone so that someone on the receiving end can feel something.”
Having witnessed enough changes to inspire an album, one thing that surprisingly didn’t change for him was when, at 40, he officially came out in a 2004 interview in The Advocate.
“I never thought I would do it, but it just kind of bubbled inside of me and next thing I knew I was coming out,” he says. “It was the best decision I ever made. That being said, I would caution against telling anyone matter-of-factly that you have to come out. The reason it was a non-issue for me was because I was ready.”
Koz says that his decision was embraced in the jazz community, which has had a perception of being homophobic. A few weeks ago, he invited fans to participate in a video shoot in Ventura, Calif., for “This Guy’s In Love With You,” with the idea to celebrate love, and being bold enough to love whomever you wish, regardless of sex, race, religion or creed. He called it a “love mob,” and according to his website, it was a success.
Like his wines, proceeds from which benefit Starlight Children’s Foundation, consider it just another thing he does for a good Koz.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.