When you hear the words Smooth Jazz, an image that should come to mind is that of the incredibly gifted saxophonist, eight-time Grammy-nominated artist Dave Koz. He is smooth jazz personified.
Koz first appeared at the Hollywood Bowl in 2009, making this summer his 14th year headlining the Smooth Jazz concert or at it was once called JVC Jazz (raise your hands if you remember that name).
The Bowl calls this night of smooth jazz their “annual mini-festival dedicated to the smoothest sounds around,” and it’s true.
With the likes of Grammy-nominated artists Candy Dulfer, Maysa, Jeffrey Osborne, Everette Harp, Paul Jackson Jr., the jazz prodigy Eric Darius, Jazz Funk Soul with Grammy-winner Jeff Lorber, and wait for it…Morris Day and the Time, this Sunday, August 27, at the Bowl, promises to be a night filled with magical horns and smooth vocals.
The Sentinel had the opportunity to speak with Dave Koz about Smooth Jazz and his accomplished friends performing with him. Here is a part of that conversation:
LAS: The Hollywood Bowl is a unique venue, one of the best in the world. You have performed there many times; what is it like to perform on that stage?
DK: It’s daunting, but it’s also the most thrilling at the same time. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley. My parents…my mom was a big cultural person. So, she and my dad always took my brother, sister, and me to the Hollywood Bowl for various programs and concerts.
I grew up going to this venue and loving it as an audience member. 1986 was the first time I played there as a professional. I was playing with a guy named Jeff Lorber. Having my parents come there to see that show and I am the artist, I’ll never forget that feeling.
There is no place like it. In fact, it’s kind of like the West Coast version of Carnegie Hall, that kind of prestige.
LAS: I love that you call the other artists you perform with your friends. How special is it to share the stage with Maysa, Candy Dulfer, Eric Darius, Jeffrey Osborne, and Morris Day and the Time.
DK: This will be a very special night of entertainment. The first act on the bill is Jazz Funk Soul, which is Everett Harp, Paul Jackson Jr., and Jeff Lorber, the guy I played with in 1986, so there’s a nice full-circle moment.
Then there is Morris Day and the Time, a classic R&B, fun, and funky party band; Eric Darius, Candy Dulfer, and me making up the summer horns. We added extraordinary guests to sing, the fabulous vocalists Maysa and Jeffrey Osborne, all of whom are very dear friends of mine. When we perform together, it’s more than just a lineup of artists.
It really is a night of friendship and mutual respect and support, and it feels that way on stage. We’re doing this show under the banner of Summer Horns. It’s a celebration of the saxophone and the horn section. I grew up listening to and loving artists who shaped me as a young artist, like Tower of Power and Earth, Wind, and Fire. So, if you like horns, this is the place to be.
LAS: You are such a generous artist. You have collaborated with a myriad of jazz musicians over the years. Would you speak to the importance of collaboration as it relates to your artistry?
DK: Yeah, that’s a great question. I feel like if I was left to my own devices and couldn’t collaborate with anybody, I’d end up doing the same thing over and over. To push myself, to grow, to take the audience with me on a journey that has lasted over three decades, I don’t think it would be possible to sustain something like that, at least for me, without collaborating with other artists, songwriters, and musicians.
Collaborating with others has pulled me in new ways so that I can uncover unique aspects of my musicality. I know it’s not for everybody, but I believe it is the secret to longevity, and it inspires me in so many ways.
LAS: Music and giving back are priorities for you. Would you discuss your work with the Starlight Children’s Foundation?
DK: Yes, I got involved with Starlight over 25 years ago. My brother and I wrote the theme song for General Hospital, and a friend of mine, the actress Emma Samms, asked us to perform for kids facing serious health issues. I saw these brave young heroes at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and became more involved in their mission. My fans became foot soldiers in this fight as well.
Throughout the years, we have raised about $1.5 million for Starlight to continue its mission. This is a beautiful way of giving back and music, and my fans have helped me to do that; they have really stepped up.
LAS: That is truly wonderful! My final question: As a native Angeleno, can we expect to see lots of Koz family members in the audience?
DK: Oh yes, my whole family! Sadly, my parents passed away long ago, but my brother, sister, and their families will be there. It’s like a reunion. Many of my high school friends from Taft High School are coming. It’s nerve-wracking but also incredibly fun and gratifying. It’s a huge honor to take the stage at the Hollywood Bowl. So, we’re looking forward to a fun night.
For more Smooth Jazz information, visit HollywoodBowl.com