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  • Smooth Jazz Network

Dave Koz: Behind the Beats

Updated: May 4, 2022

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Dave Koz.

Dave Koz has a new CD out, another Dave Koz Cruise coming in 2022, and is gearing up for his first tour in over a year. We grabbed a few moments together this past week to talk with the busiest guy in smooth jazz.

With the lack of touring, you’ve had a busy year in the studio. This new project with Cory Wong is getting a lot of great buzz right now with the title track. Tell us about the one vocal track “Your Side Of Town.”

Thanks for the kind words, AK…it means a ton coming from you! The one vocal tune on the album was actually all Cory’s idea. When we started working together over the past couple years, he did a deep dive on my musical past and found this super-obscure track on my very first album called “Art Of Key Noise”…which was basically an interlude made up of all the sounds a sax makes when one is NOT actually playing it! He loved it and told me one day, he’d make a new track out of that song. Which he did on this album! He took the basics of the original, made a new percussion track from it, then we wrote a new song around that beat and asked his great friend Phoebe Katis, (an amazingly talented British chanteuse) to write the melody and lyric. Who’d have thunk that a 30 year old piece of old music would be used in this way…but I was so happy it happened, and I really love this new song!

Tell us about the 2022 Dave Koz Cruise.

Well, this is actually the rescheduling of our 2020 cruise, which sadly had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The cruises are such a special experience for the guests (and all the artists as well!), that this was indeed one of the most painful and emotion-packed aspects of Covid for me personally. But thankfully, it’s all coming back. I was SO elated to see those first cruise ships go out last month…and I think by May of 2022, we will be in great shape to once again, have the time of our lives. And what a cruise this one is—5 countries in 7 days, starting in our host city of Amsterdam, Netherlands…and cruising to the British Isles: England (Dover); Scotland (Glasgow); Ireland (Cork) and Wales (Hollyhock). All in one week! And the line up is the biggest and best I think we’ve ever had. I am so pumped for this cruise, and I really want to thank all our amazing guests for hanging in there with us through this turbulent time. I pray it will be worth the wait!

Summer Horns hits the road soon. Are you excited?

I have SO many different emotions about returning to the concert stage. Pretty much every artist I’ve spoken to has the same feelings—we’re excited, we’re thrilled to have the opportunity, but also a bit nervous! It’s been a LONG time, so I am praying it all comes back to me. Hopefully it’s like riding a bike.

You know, your hair color matches your saxophone now…. How does it feel to be one of the ‘veterans’ of smooth jazz?

I should’ve stopped dying my hair years ago! I came out as gay when I was 40…and then came out as GRAY when I was in my 50s. What’s gonna happen when I turn 60?! Hah, we shall see! But it’s just one more aspect of settling in to where I am in my life, and making no apologies. It’s very freeing and healing, actually. It’s been an amazing journey these past almost 60 years—and I wouldn’t trade ONE note of any of it. But I look forward to seeing where this all goes in the next chapter. I have amazing role models to look up to…people like Bob James and David Sanborn, Smokey Robinson and Herb Alpert, Stevie Wonder and even my 99-year-old friend Norman Lear to name a few—all of whom are still extremely busy, remaining relevant and doing some of the best work of their careers late in life. These guys are my heroes!

You have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right in front of the world famous Capitol Records building. I recall the ceremony well. It was an amazing day! You had a lot of successful years with the label. How has the music business changed for you over the years?

I remember that day well too, Allen…it was SO surreal! As a kid who grew up in LA, to actually have one of those stars with MY name on it?? That was a lot to handle J But I am so very honored. Sometimes when I’m in the area I might drive by to just make sure it’s still there! It really does feel like someone made a big mistake…but thankfully as of last month, it’s still there! As to Capitol, you’re right—I had a storybook 20 years recording for that label. I am beyond grateful to have had so many years at such a heritage label in the heyday of the record business. Today’s business is completely unrecognizable from that earlier era—everything (and I mean EVERYthing) has changed, it’s sorta dizzying! But that’s why I’ve spent a lot of time lately, collaborating with young artists who know this new era waaaay better than me, and I’ve learned a ton. And have so much more to learn. The one thing I really like is that now you really don’t ‘need’ a label or any gatekeeper…if you have something to say musically—record it and put it out. You now have worldwide distribution at the touch of a computer key!

How is it to still be hosting a radio show after all these years? Still exciting for you?

I love radio, as I know you do as well! I’ve been so blessed to have had an amazing run, and I have people like you, Frank Cody, Paul Goldstein and of course Pat Prescott to thank for that! Proud to say The DK Radio Show is now in it’s 27th year uninterrupted on the airwaves…plus I get to host a weekly show on SiriusXM, and program a 24 hour internet station available worldwide. So yes, still VERY exciting. Most importantly, what I love most is being an advocate and cheerleader for the amazing artists in this format. And not just the superstars, there’s SO much incredible music being made by newcomers lately—it’s a VERY inspiring time musically right now.

Advice for the new talent coming up?

The world needs you. In my opinion, there has never been a time more important than at this moment to bring art (of all kinds) in to the world. It’s the elixir that provides the antidote for all the pain and strife and trauma we see daily. And to musicians specifically…find your own voice and do you. Try not to fit the ‘formula’ and do what others have done before you. The world wants to hear from YOU. That’s how we move the music forward. Oh, and have fun. That’s what it’s ALL about!

Keep up with Dave Koz via his website,

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