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 didnt 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 Kozs spirit and inspired his annual Christmas tour, which brings him to Durhams Carolina Theatre on Tuesday.
It all started 16-years ago after my father died and (pianist) David Benoits 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. Hes doing a Charlie Brown Christmas tour. But we dont 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 Kozs 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. Im so glad hes back with us. You have to hear him sing O Holy Night. This is the first time Im touring with Oleta Adams. Ive 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 Childrens 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. Ive been very fortunate and the least I can do is give back during this season.