Interviews Dave Koz / Photo courtesy of It Girl Public Relations

Published on November 29th, 2017 | by Darren Paltrowitz


Dave Koz On His “20th Anniversary Christmas” Album, His Latest Special For CBS, And Appearing On “Family Matters”

With nine Grammy nominations, nine #1 Billboard albums and a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star to his credit, few jazz artists have accomplished even a fraction of what Dave Koz has. Koz’s collaborators over the last quarter-century have included U2, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Celine Dion and Burt Bacharach. More recently, Koz appeared on the latest Foo Fighters album, Concrete And Gold, showing Koz’s ability to persevere in any genre. Beyond music, Koz has also produced wines with premium Santa Barbara winemaker Terravant, hosted the Dave Koz Lounge for SiriusXM, been a partner in Citizen Beverly Hills, and raised over a half-million dollars for the Starlight Foundation.

The legendary saxophonist recently premiered a new TV special for CBS, which included Melissa Etheridge and Lindsey Stirling. His latest full-length release is Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas. Currently, Koz is on the road touring in support of 20th Anniversary Christmas, having kicked off his tour on November 24th at Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. Koz’s cross-country run is scheduled to wrap with two nights at California’s Cerritos Center For The Performing Arts on December 22nd and 23rd. Non-Christmas dates, including Japan, have already been announced.

To learn more about Dave Koz’s past, present and future, I spoke with the man himself for The Hype Magazine prior to the airing of his CBS special. More on Koz can be found at

You are often called a “smooth jazz” artist. Can you remember the first time you heard that term?

Dave Koz: I think it was first used many years ago to define a burgeoning radio format in the mid 80’s. I heard a story that it was actually a listener in Chicago that first coined the term to describe the way certain songs made her feel. Smooth. Jazz. And a format and style of music was created!

Do you mind the “smooth jazz” label? Or is there a way you’d rather be described?

Dave Koz: I welcome it, as this genre has been very good to me over the years! But like most artists, I’d prefer to not be attached to any given label or genre so as to make the music be totally transparent and live on its own. But of course, that’s not reality! In the end, I am completely fine with it.

I remember seeing you on an episode of Family Matters many years ago. How exactly did that opportunity come about? I ask because I’d thought it was a rare for a real musician to be the focal point of a sit-com.

Dave Koz: (laughs) That’s too funny. That was a LONG time ago! The producers liked my music and decided to write a show around Urkel coming to one of my concerts. It was at the very beginning of my career, and when I first saw the script, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! So strange and surreal, because I was a huge fan of that show. Really, a wonderful opportunity. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have been written into a variety of TV shows over the years including Melrose Place and General Hospital. It’s a bit of a stretch, but I’ll see what I can do! (laughs)

Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas is your upcoming release, but not your first Christmas release. How did you go about choosing the songs for this release?

Dave Koz: Well, we started by looking at holiday songs I hadn’t recorded before…and since I was making the album with the three people who helped me start this journey some 20 years ago — pianist David Benoit, trumpeter Rick Braun and guitarist Peter White — it had to be songs they hadn’t recorded either! It was a challenge, to say the least, but we made it. Some songs had to be repeated, but mostly all the songs are new to us. We have a full symphony orchestra and some very special vocal guests, befitting the milestone of a 20-year celebration!

You have a special airing on CBS on October 21st. How would you describe it? Will it feature performances of songs from Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas?

Dave Koz: I was very excited to perform a Christmas duet with violinist — and Dancing With The Stars contestant — Lindsey Stirling. We played a lovely duet on “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” all in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. It was a thrill to make music with her, as she is SUCH a dynamic artist. She plays with such amazing emotion and heart, exactly what you want in a duet partner.

You will touring in support of Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas. Will you only be performing Christmas music? Or will you also be playing some hits?

Dave Koz: I think our show has survived for 20 years because we always change it up, year after year. We haven’t had the same lineup of guest artists ever, and we also mix up the music, so it’s hopefully never boring — especially for our wonderful audience who come back year after year! The show is mostly Christmas music, but probably 30 percent hits from all the artists’ past as well. I think the balance has been important to sustaining longevity over the years in such a fickle business!

And who’s in your live band these days?

Dave Koz: Randy Jacobs on guitar, Brian Simpson on keyboards, Jay Williams on drums and Nathaniel Kearney, Jr. on bass. These guys have been with me for ages, and are absolutely incredible!

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About the Author

Darren Paltrowitz is a New York resident with over 20 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. Since then, he has worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Tracy Bonham, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer. Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World,, Businessweek, Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host of the bi-weekly "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly He has also co-authored two published books, 2018's "Pocket Change: Your Happy Money" (Book Web Publishing) and 2019's "Good Advice From Professional Wrestling" (6623 Press), with a second podcast set for a June 2020 launch.

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