Dave Koz brings Christmas spirit to Durham

CorrespondentNovember 28, 2013 

2012 GRAMMY Awards Pre-Show

Dave Koz comes to the Carolina Theatre on Tuesday.

MATT SAYLES — AP

  • Details

    Who: Dave Koz and Friends

    When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

    Where: Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham

    Cost: $40-$125

    Info: 919-560-3030 or carolinatheatre.org

What does Dave Koz have in common with Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Bette Midler? They are all Jewish recording artists with popular Christmas albums.

“I never would have imagined myself, a Jewish kid growing up in the (San Fernando Valley), recording Christmas music. But it happened and I love it,” Koz says.

Even though the Koz family didn’t celebrate Christmas, those familiar seasonal songs were impossible for the future saxophonist to miss.

“I would experience Christmas at friends’ homes,” Koz recalls, while calling from his Los Angeles home. “I remember having these great holiday dinners and we would trim the tree to this beautiful music. Christmas music has a way of making you feel better.”

The sounds of holidays past buoyed Koz’s spirit and inspired his annual Christmas tour, which brings him to Durham’s Carolina Theatre on Tuesday.

“It all started 16-years ago after my father died and (pianist) David Benoit’s mother died,” Koz says. “We talked about how tough it was to be without our parents. We talked about keeping their memories alive and one thing led to another and this show was born. The crazy thing is that it keeps getting bigger and bigger. Nothing stops that growth.”

Not even the absence of Benoit, who will miss the current jaunt.

“David is not on this tour,” Koz says. “He was out with us last year. He’s doing a ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ tour. But we don’t lack for talent on this tour.”

Vocalist Oleta Adams, vocalist-guitarist Jonathan Butler and pianist Keiko Matsui will join Koz onstage for spirited and gentle Christmas songs, which will make up 70 percent of the set. Such standards as ‘Winter Wonderland,” “White Christmas’ and “Silver Bells,” which appear on Koz’s 1997 release, “December Makes Me Feel This Way,” might make the set list. “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night,” which were recorded for his 2001 release, “A Smooth Jazz Christmas,” could also show up. The rest of the show will be filled with the artists’ non-seasonal hits.

“Jonathan Butler brings a lot to the party,” Koz says. “I’m so glad he’s back with us. You have to hear him sing ‘O Holy Night.’ This is the first time I’m touring with Oleta Adams. I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Keiko is simply a virtuoso.”

Koz is embracing the Christmas spirit in nonmusical ways, too. During the month of December, a hospital in each city he plays will receive a charitable contribution and a few gifts and gadgets.

“The Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham will receive three iPads fully loaded with games and some $500 in wish grants that can be spent any way they want,” Koz says. “I’ve been very fortunate and the least I can do is give back during this season.”

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