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Dave Koz Says Movies, Music A Good Mix

Of the Oakland Press

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Between recording and radio studios, Dave Koz is used to spending time in dark rooms. Put movie theaters on that list, too.

“I’m a huge fan,” says the saxophonist, who translated that passion into his latest album, “At the Movies,” a collection of favorite movie songs that features guests such as Donna Summer, Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow, India.Arie and Detroit’s Anita Baker, among others.

“I’ve always had this idea in the back of my head; I just didn’t know when it was going to come to fruition. It’s very powerful music because it’s so familiar and not just music you listen to on a musical level. It conjures up all these thoughts and ideas and feelings related to ... those movies.”

And that familiarity, Koz notes, has made it easier to turn “At the Movies” into a live presentation, which he’ll do at this weekend’s V98.7 Smooth JazzFest in Southfield. In fact, his set — which will include guests David Benoit, Phil Perry and Kelly Sweet — uses the album as a stepping stone to “tell the story of movie music in kind of a live fashion.”

“We’re not just doing songs from the album,” explains Koz, 44, a Los Angeles native who was born Dave Kozlowski and has released seven previous albums. “I think one of the most fun songs from the movies is ‘Car Wash’; I mean, come on — how much more appropriate can you get?

“We can go from ‘Moon River’ to ‘Car Wash’ and everything in between. We do ‘Shaft,’ ‘Austin Powers’ ... You want to talk about hits? You’ve got ‘As Time Goes By,’ ‘The Pink Panther Theme.’ It’s great to have this as the ‘new’ stuff to play.”

Having Baker to sing “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” took a bit of doing, however. Koz decided to pitch her on the idea last year when she appeared as a guest on his weekly radio show, heard 9:15 a.m. Saturdays on WVMV-FM (98.7).

“I thought, ‘Would it be highly unprofessional to ask her to sing on the album?’ ” recalls Koz. “But I did, and her response was, ‘You want me? Yeah, sure.’ I was elated.”

Baker says that her first choice was “Moon River,” but Barry Manilow had already laid claim to that. “So Dave suggested I do ‘Somewhere,’ ” Baker recalls. “I love the song, but I didn’t think it was something I could do.

“We talked about it, and he was very persuasive. And I welcome the opportunity to do different things. So I did it straightahead, like a show tune. I think it came out OK.”

Better than OK, Koz says.

“She launched into singing it,” he remembers, “and that sound, with the scoops and crescendos that she does ... I’m so glad I got up the nerve to ask her.”

Baker also is among the guests who appear on an “At the Movies” TV special that’s been airing on PBS to help promote the album and will be released as a DVD later this year. A second movie music album also is a possibility, Koz says.

“This is the kind of thing that would be appropriate for sequels,” he explains, “but it’s a little too early to tell.”

It does beg the question, however, of whether Koz, who’s scored music for television, would like to get into film composing himself.

“Oh, I would love to do it. I’m kind of a psycho fan of film composers,” says Koz, whose favorites include Thomas Newman, John Williams, Dave Grusin and Henry Mancini. “It really is like a parallel music business, if you will; here we are as instrumentals and singers, making albums where we want to pay attention to our music. But in the role of film composer, you don’t want people to notice the music. If people notice it, it’s wrong.

“That’s such a hard job. It requires a very special skill. I’m not sure I have that quite yet, but I would love the challenge of trying to do it.”

The ninth annual V98.7 Smooth JazzFest takes place Friday (June 22nd) through Sunday (June 24th) at the Southfi eld Civic Center, Evergreen Road between 10 Mile and 11 Mile roads, Southfield. Tickets are $30 per day and $75 for all three days general admission, with Gold Circle available at $40 per day and $105 for three days. Gates open at 4 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Learn more at www.wvmv.com.


5:15 p.m. — Kimmie Horne 6:20 p.m. — Urban Jazz Coalition 7:35 p.m. — Paul Taylor and Regina Belle 9:20 p.m. — Jazz Attack with Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Jonathan Butler and Peter White


3:30 p.m. — Nelson Rangell with special guest Philippe Saisse 4:45 p.m. — Spyro Gyra 6:15 p.m. — The Sax Pack with Jeff and Steve Cole 7:45 p.m. — Brenda Russell 9:15 p.m. — Dave Koz, featuring David Benoit, Phil Perry and Kelly Sweet


3:30 p.m. — Lin Rountree 4:45 p.m. — Kelly Sweet 6 p.m. — Alexander Zonjic & Friends with James Lloyd 7:30 p.m. — The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman 9:15 p.m. — India.Arie

Web Site: www.wvmv.com

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