By Alan Sculley
Back in fall 2019, as Dave Koz was readying himself to do his annual holiday tour, he was having thoughts about making an ambitious new album.
“In the beginning, the idea was to make like a double album or maybe a double EP that would reflect a little bit about where I’d been and then where I’d like to go,” Koz said. “I remember even ‘Yesterday and Today’ was the working title of that.”
Within a few months, the pandemic hit and turned everything upside down, including Koz’s plans for a double album. But Koz, who has always been one of the busier artists in music, didn’t let the unexpected interruption keep him from being productive.
As a result, this fall Koz had two new albums under his belt as he launched the 24th edition of his Dave Koz and Friends Christmas tour. Koz and Friends will appear at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.
The first of those albums, “A New Day,” arrived in October 2020, and it’s Koz’s first album of original non-holiday music in a decade. To an extent, it follows through on the idea of making an album that stays true to the musical style of the 10 non-holiday studio albums Koz has released since 1990 — all of which have gone at least top five on the contemporary jazz chart. Like his previous albums, “A New Day” is largely in the instrumental R&B-accented smooth jazz realm.
The pandemic, though, did influence the upbeat feel of the music for “A New Day.” Koz found that music helped him cope with the pandemic and he decided he should try to bring some musical happiness to his fans.
One issue, though, was how Koz would be able to work with his co-writers and musicians when they couldn’t get together in person. To his surprise, Koz found working virtually using the internet was a viable way to get things done.
“(The album) was amazingly easy to make because everybody was home (and available),” Koz said. “I would have loved to have gotten together with people and written in person. But in this situation, it had to be what it had to be. So, these guys would send me fragments of songs, maybe like a verse, chorus, saying what do you think of this? Either I would hear something immediately or not.”
Koz didn’t have that issue with writing for the second album, “The Golden Hour.”
In February 2020, Koz had gotten together with producer/co-writer Cory Wong to compose songs for that album. “The Golden Hour,” which was released in June, is a different venture for Koz. It pairs the sax player and guitarist Wong with a big band playing, in many cases, songs that are more energetic – at times even rocking – than Koz’s other albums.
The pandemic delayed recording sessions for several months, but in September 2020, Koz, Wong, the musicians and crew convened and recorded “The Golden Hour” in three days.
“Finally, in September, we all just said, ‘We’re doing this.’ Come hell or high water, we’re going to don our masks, and we all went into the studio,” Koz said.
Fans, though, shouldn’t expect to hear much material from either “A New Day” or “The Golden Hour” on the Christmas tour, which features Koz and four musicians he considers to be like family — Jonathan Butler (bass, vocals), Rick Braun (trumpet), Richard Elliot (sax) and Rebecca Jade (vocals).
“This year, we’re really focusing a lot more on Christmas music because I think it seems to be what we really want to play and I think what probably most people want to hear,” Koz said. “It’s just that old-fashioned nostalgia, that stuff that as soon as you hear it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.”
For more, visit thecenterpresents.org.