|Twenty-two years after releasing his first Christmas-themed set, GRAMMY®-nominated saxophonist Dave Koz takes a very different stylistic approach on his new holiday album, Gifts of the Season (Just Koz Entertainment, Inc.). Out today and available HERE, the collection brings a buoyant, soul/funk/pop feel to Christmas classics across different eras. The album also includes one Koz original – “A Prayer for Peace.” “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” featuring Jonathan Butler – a groovin’, African chant-spiced version of the 1950’s holiday song – will go to radio in early November. Listen to the track HERE.
Gifts of the Season is the ideal companion piece for the 22nd Annual Dave Koz & Friends Christmas Tour – a whirlwind of 22 shows in 25 days – with Jonathan Butler, Melissa Manchester, Michael Lington and special guest Chris Walker. All four of Koz’s tour mates guest on the new album.
In what’s become an annual tradition, Koz is donating the money raised by the Dave Koz & Friends at Sea silent auctions to help the heroic kids served by Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of hospitalized children worldwide. This year’s $200,000 donation will provide state-of-the-art Virtual Reality headsets to 100 children’s hospitals along the Christmas tour route. Starlight’s Virtual Reality Headset Program offers seriously ill children a fun way to explore the world – and beyond – through the magic of VR. See the impact these headsets can make in this short video. Koz has served as global ambassador for the Foundation for over 25 years and has raised over one million dollars for Starlight through the help of the Dave Koz Fan Network.
The Christmas tour kicks off on November 29 at the Van Wezel in Sarasota, FL and includes shows at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, NY (December 8), the Plaza Theatre in El Paso, TX (December 16) and Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Southern California (December 20 and 21). Butler and Lington are also releasing Christmas albums this fall so – in a first for the tour – the shows will feature material from three brand new holiday albums. Tickets are available at www.davekoz.com. See below for itinerary.
Koz and producer Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Toby Keith, Bob James) laid down the basic tracks for Gifts of the Season in Rahn’s Denver studio. They then recorded the guest artists in each of their home studios, imbuing the songs with an added warmth. GRAMMY winner Melissa Manchester transforms Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” into a soulful ballad, changing the entire emotional trajectory of the song. Pairing the intensity of Michael Lington’s alto saxophone with Koz’s tenor fuels an explosive funk/soul romp through “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” In addition to joining Koz on “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas,” Jonathan Butler’s gritty, soul-gospel energy fuels a swinging bounce through Donny Hathaway’s 70’s smash, “This Christmas.” Singer, bassist and former Al Jarreau musical director Chris Walker also knocks it out of the park, delivering the perfect blend of solemnity and classic soul power on a sparsely-produced rendition of “Mary Did You Know.”
Other highlights include “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” featuring Matt Cusson, whose Take-6-like vocal textures combine with Koz’s cool tenor to bring renewed poignancy to the beloved classic, and Koz and Rahn’s dance-jam spin on Wham’s mid-80’s smash, “Last Christmas.” See below for the full track listing.
About Dave Koz and Friends:
Saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz has racked up an astoundingly impressive array of honors and achievements: nine GRAMMY® nominations, 11 No. 1 albums on Billboard’s Current Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, numerous world tours, 13 sold-out Dave Koz & Friends At Sea cruises, performances for multiple U.S. presidents, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and more. A Platinum-selling artist, Koz is also known as a humanitarian, entrepreneur, radio host and instrumental music advocate.
The youngest of 13 children, Jonathan Butler grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, ruled by Apartheid and segregation. Butler began his singing career at age 7. He released his first album in 1973 and won the Best New Artist GRAMMY in South Africa the following year at age 12. More than a decade later, Butler moved to London, England after signing with Jive Records and released his first album internationally. The self-titled set went Gold in 1987 in the United Kingdom and in the U.S. He received GRAMMY nominations for Best R&B Song for his R&B-pop vocal hit “Lies” and for Best Jazz Song for the instrumental “Going Home.” His new album, Christmas Together, is out now.
Following her stint as a founding member of Bette Midler’s Harlettes, Manchester established herself as a solo artist with Top 10 hits like “Midnight Blue,” the GRAMMY-nominated “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and the GRAMMY-winning “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.” Her songs have been heard in motion pictures, netting her two Oscar nominations, and recorded by such artists as Barbra Streisand, Dusty Springfield, Alison Krauss and Roberta Flack. On her latest album, The Fellas, she pays tribute to iconic male artists such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and Tony Bennett.
Although he grew up in Copenhagen, Michael Lington was massively influenced by the soul music that emanated from Memphis, TN. At age 20, he made the fateful decision to move to the U.S. and is now regarded as one of the world’s top contemporary soul and jazz saxophonists. In his remarkable career, he has charted more than 20 hit singles and performed at some of the world’s most prestigious venues. He recently recorded his first Christmas album, A Foreign Affair Christmas, which features numerous special guests, including Vince Gill and Dave Koz.
Born and raised in Houston TX, Chris Walker began singing before he began speaking. He got his start in church, performing as a member of his family gospel group, The Walker Brothers. He has played with such jazz greats as Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey, Bob James, Jimmy Heath, Cassandra Wilson and others. He served as musical director for Regina Belle and also for seven-time GRAMMY Award winner Al Jarreau. Walker’s latest album, We’re In This Love Together Celebrating Al Jarreau, is out now. It features many smooth jazz greats, including Dave Koz.
Track Listing – Gifts Of The Season
1. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas featuring Jonathan Butler
2. O Come All Ye Faithful
3. White Christmas
4. Last Christmas
5. Mary Did You Know featuring Chris Walker
6. I’ll Be Home For Christmas featuring Matt Cusson
7. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer featuring Michael Lington
8. This Christmas featuring Jonathan Butler
9. All I Want For Christmas Is You featuring Melissa Manchester
10. Winter Wonderland
11. A Prayer For Peace
DAVE KOZ AND FRIENDS CHRISTMAS TOUR 2019
Jonathan Butler * Melissa Manchester * Michael Lington
with special guest Chris Walker
Dates subject to change.
11/29 – Sarasota, FL @ Van Wezel
11/30 – West Palm Beach, FL @ Kravis Center
12/1 – Naples, FL @ Hayes Hall
12/2 – Melbourne, FL @ King Center
12/3 – Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
12/5 – Jacksonville, FL @ Florida Theatre
12/6 – Atlanta, GA @ Cobb Centre
12/7 – Newport News, VA @ Ferguson Centre
12/8 – Brookville, NY @ Tilles Center for the Performing Arts
12/9 – Bethesda, MD @ Strathmore
12/11 – Columbus, OH @ Palace Theatre
12/12 – Cleveland, OH @ KeyBank State Theatre
12/13 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago Theatre
12/15 – Carmel, IN @ Palladium
12/16 – El Paso, TX @ Plaza Theatre
12/17 – Mesa, AZ @ Ikeda Theatre
12/18 – Palm Springs, CA @ McCallum
12/19 – El Cajon, CA @ The Magnolia
12/20 – Cerritos, CA @ Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts
12/21 – Cerritos, CA @ Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts
12/22 – Stockton, CA @ Bob Hope Theatre
12/23 – San Jose, CA @ City National Civic