Dave Koz & Friends a highlight of Capital Jazz Fest

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Entertainment,Music,Robert Fulton

When Dave Koz was of an age that he started visiting the local record store, the first album he bought was Tower of Power's "Back to Oakland." It was that 1974 LP that inspired the budding musician to make the saxophone his passion.

"It's kind of the blueprint of my musical life, really," said Koz, an eight-time Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist. "That was one of the key reasons why I picked up the instrument, I was so influenced by that group. It was part of the musical DNA that shaped me."

In recognition of the music of that era, Koz is set to release Dave Koz & Friends' "Summer Horns" on Tuesday. Koz and his band perform Saturday as part of the Capital Jazz Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

If you go
The Capital Jazz Fest
» Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia
» When: Friday to Sunday, Dave Koz & Friends perform on Saturday
» Info: $42.50 to $195; capitaljazz.com

"Summer Horns" features interpretations of such well-known songs as Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4" and Sly & the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summertime."

"This album and this tour is really a celebration, a tribute to that golden era of music," Koz said while driving to rehearsal in his hometown of Los Angeles.

The arrangement of the songs are designed for four different saxophones. In addition to Koz, the album includes saxophonists Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair.

"The concept of creating this new section sound with four soloists was an appealing one to me," said Koz. "As opposed to doing it with trumpets and trombones the typical way, to create almost a new sound with just saxophones, that's when I went to three great buddies of mine and all three at the top of their game as soloists.

"We didn't know until the first day of the recording whether it was going to work," Koz continued. "Thankfully it worked. You have to walk that fine line of being faithful but also adding something new. Otherwise, why do it? As long as you can walk that fine line and delicate balance, it's hard not to hit the bull's-eye."

Koz is quick to credit the arrangers for the album's success. These include Greg Adams, Tom Scott and Gordon Goodwin, who was key in putting together an arrangement of the Dave Brubeck classic "Take Five."

"For us collectively, it's the song that we're most proud of on the CD, not only for the arrangement but for our playing on it and the fact we were able to pull off something like that," said Koz.

Koz described rehearsal for this tour as "a blast," and is excited to get the songs out on the road.

"The truth is, this could be the one and only time we do this," said Koz. "For those people coming to the Saturday night show at the Capital Jazz Festival, they'll get a chance to see something that may never happen again. We're all approaching it like that."

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Robert Fulton

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner