Jazzing up the holidays: Christmas tour brings saxophonist Dave Koz back to Naples

Saxophonist Dave Koz returns to the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts on Wednesday with a holiday show.

Saxophonist Dave Koz returns to the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts on Wednesday with a holiday show.

Musicians blow their own horns and singers belt out their hits, yet artists from jazz to country share something in common — playing Christmas classics, said saxophonist Dave Koz.

"This grouping of music, holiday songs, lend themselves to multiple interpretations," he said.

Koz, who will perform with his band at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, said there's nothing like sinking his teeth into songs such as "White Christmas."

"You don't think great melody, but when you play it, there's so much there," said Koz, 49, of the Irving Berlin standard.

If you go

DAVE KOZ & FRIENDS CHRISTMAS TOUR

What: Holiday tunes performed by Dave Koz, David Benoit, Sheila E., Javier Colon and Margo Rey

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28

Where: Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples

Cost: $69-$89

Tickets/Information: 239-597-1900 or thephil.org

"Each note is like a poem. These songs are kind of like little prayers or poems that indicate very important and deep messages on one level. On the other hand, they make you feel good."

Koz said this is his 15th annual holiday tour, and he has lost track how many times he's traveled to Naples for the show. Even so, he said it's among the best venues for musicians.

"It sounds great in there, no matter where you sit," he said of the Phil. "It feels very intimate for a symphony hall. It feels like a big living room or something."

Among those joining him in Naples are pianist and composer David Benoit, percussionist Sheila E. and singer Javier Colon, who won the first season of NBC's "The Voice" in June 2011.

Koz's songs often are found on smooth jazz stations, a moniker he referred to as more of a radio format and not a style of music.

"Like anything that is a label, sometimes it can be limiting," he said.

Smooth jazz too often gets brushed aside with what some call real or classic jazz from the likes of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and others.

However, too often overlooked are other jazz legends, including guitarists Wes Montgomery and Lee Ritenour, pianists Ramsey Lewis and Bob James and saxophonists Grover Washington Jr. and David Sanborn.

Jazz music welcomes all styles, Koz said, noting his influences besides jazz stars included pop music, rhythm and blues and funk.

Mavis Staples, left, and saxophonist Dave Koz perform at the Grammy Foundation's "One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience" on Feb. 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Photo by Associated Press

Mavis Staples, left, and saxophonist Dave Koz perform at the Grammy Foundation's "One Night Only: A Celebration of the Live Music Experience" on Feb. 9, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"It's a big tent — it should be a big tent," he said of jazz. "There's a place for all of it in people's music collections."

Koz remembered a time when the saxophone was the instrument, especially for school kids growing up in the 1950s through the 1980s. President Bill Clinton and Clarence Clemons playing the saxophone made it even cooler.

Was there a 1970s television show opening theme song that didn't feature a sax?

"I don't think it will every go completely out of style," Koz said. "It's hard not to love an instrument like that."

Koz, who graduated from UCLA in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in mass communications, said his intent immediately after college was to find "a regular job."

"I remember my parents saying, 'So what are you going to do now?' I said I'm going to take six months to get this music thing going," he said of their discussion.

"I never had to get a real job. I've been doing music ever since. I feel very blessed. I've had so much fun and have traveled the world and created some happiness for people by blowing into a piece of metal."

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