Dave Koz has received nine GRAMMY® nominations, had nine No. 1 albums on Billboard’s Current Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, toured the world and been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
An interview with Dave Koz prior to his season at Bird’s Basement
Born and raised in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Dave initially just saw the saxophone as a way to help him gain entry into his big brother’s band. What began as a ploy became a lifelong obsession. After graduating from UCLA, Koz decided to become a professional musician. Within weeks of that decision, he was recruited as a touring member of Bobby Caldwell’s band. It was during this time that Koz befriended keyboardist Jeff Lorber, who invited Koz to come play on one of his tours. That stint was followed by a fourteen-month tour with pop singer Richard Marx.
JA: When did you start playing the saxophone?
DK: I started at age 13, after failing miserably at the piano, and even worse on the drums. The sax was my last attempt to find an instrument that truly felt right—and from the very first moment I picked it up, I knew it would be a significant relationship. 40 years later, I am still in shock that this instrument and me have had an almost life-long kinship. It’s become my most trusted friend and confidante. It’s introduced me to presidents and taken me all over the world—including this trip to Melbourne. I am grateful and honored to play it, and I am STILL learning and discovering new things about the instrument. It’s been a love affair since day one.
JA: Can you recall your first time on stage? Can you give us an expanded answer including what you remember, when, with whom, your feelings etc.
DK: Probably in junior high school in the Christmas band concert—I was like 14 or so. I am a very shy person, especially back then! But the sax gave me an internal confidence I didn’t have in other ways, and it allowed me to come out of my shell. I remember being so excited and full of energy after that show. And it’s still the same, this many years later—I get energized from live performance in a way that I can’t possibly get in any other situation. It’s like a drug, really. But legal!
JA: Do you write your own material and if so can you describe the creative process?
DK: I do write, and I think that’s one of the best and most enjoyable aspects of my career. I often marvel when I sit down at the piano or with the sax, and a few minutes later, a melody comes—where did it come from? How did it get to me?? That’s the great mystery of composition, and it’s very humbling. I especially like collaborating with other artists and songwriters/producers. If left to my own devices, I’d probably write the same kind of song over and over! So, collaboration forces me to get out of my comfort zone and find new creative terrain with others. We sit in a room, or at the piano, or in the studio and just riff on ideas…eventually an idea that we both like comes and we go from there, flushing it out. Or, if it ain’t happening, we just go eat lunch! Haha.
JA: Do you have hobbies? Which ones?
DK: I am a bit of a foodie…not much of a cook (though I wish I was), but I love food. I love to travel to far away places, sampling the local food. I love art as well, and anything with culture/travel. I do enjoy mountain biking near my vacation home in Northern California, where there are so many amazing trails. And I am a horribly bad golfer, skier and tennis player. But that doesn’t stop me.
JA: When you are not performing how do you spend your evenings?
DK: Pretty simple guy here. I love my family time, (I’m a very proud uncle of 4 nieces) and a Godfather to 4 others. I love going out to dinner with friends. I especially adore movies. Nothing makes me quite as happy as sitting in a movie theater with a tub of popcorn on my lap, being taken away by a film. I even made an album a few years back called At The Movies. It was my dream project!
JA: What can your Australian audience expect from your performance at Bird’s Basement?
DK: Well, first of all—after 25 years of making records and traveling the world to play, it’s our very FIRST time doing a show in Australia!! I can’t believe it! So, needless to say, me and my amazing band are extremely excited to be coming. I also heard great things about this new venue, Bird’s Basement—and the city of Melbourne—thrilled to be camping out there for a whole week. Our show is very high-energy, with great musicianship, lots of audience participation, tons of fun and collaboration—very interactive, and everyone in the band gets a chance to show off their unique talents. Lots of my old stuff, a ton of new songs, some surprises along the way and an all-around good time. We can’t wait! Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!!