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Dave Koz Blows Fresh Tunes Into Smooth Jazz Christmas Show

Of the Oakland Press

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Saxophonist and radio host Dave Koz has been presiding the Smooth Jazz Christmas tour for 10 years. But this time out, he has some new holiday music to play for it.

Koz’s latest release, “Memories of a Winter’s Night,” recently topped Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. Showcasing a dozen December favorites, it features collaborations with fellow instrumentalists Rick Braun, Peter White and David Benoit as well as vocalists Kelly Sweet and, perhaps surprisingly, “American Idol” finalist Kimberly Locke, who’s also part of this year’s Smooth Jazz Christmas tour.

“Her manager is a good friend of mine, and we’ve been trying to do stuff together for a long time — actually since 2002, when she was on (‘Idol’),” notes Koz, 44, whose weekly radio show is heard at 7 a.m. Sundays on WVMV-FM (98.7) in Detroit. “It was just a matter of time before, ‘OK, now’s the time for us to get together. And it was worth waiting for.

“We just hit it off. She sings great, of course, and she’s a blast to hang out with on the road, which is an important thing, too. She can hang. She’s a pro, and she’s totally relaxed about road life.”

“Memories of a Winter’s Night” isn’t just about Christmas, however. Nodding to Koz’s own heritage, the title track is subtitled “A Song for Hanukkah.” But while he was happy to put that on the album, he says that he has no concerns about dipping into any music that’s part of the season.

“I just love holiday music,” explains Koz, who’s released two previous Christmas-themed albums. “Every time I think about doing this, I figure there can’t be any more songs to record, and there’s always more.

“And there’s this incredible thirst out there for the music — just look at all these radio stations that go to 24-hour Christmas music right after Thanksgiving. You figure, ‘Ah, that’ll never work,’ and the ratings go through the roof, ’cause there’s a ton of great music and an appetite for it, at least for a month every year.”

The Dave Koz & Friends 10th Anniversary Smooth Jazz Christmas, with Jonathan Butler, Wayman Tisdale and Kimberly Locke, plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 12) at Music Hall Center, 350 Madison St., Detroit. Tickets are $45 and $35. Call (313) 887-8501 or visit www.musichall.org.

Web Site: www.musichall.org

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