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  • Jonathan Widran

DAVE KOZ and FRIENDS, Summer Horns II: From A to Z

Besides his magnetic personality, great showmanship and entrepreneurial acumen, saxophonist Dave Koz has been one of Smooth Jazz’s great icons over the past three decades because of his ongoing ability to surprise us. His Summer Horns concept – joining forces with horn-playing peers on imaginative re-arrangements of pop/soul classics – was engaging in 2013 and reaches even more transcendent creative heights on its sequel, SUMMER HORNS II: FROM A TO Z.

Part of the magic this time comes from adding different horn textures, with Rick Braun and trombonist/vocalist Aubrey Logan joining holdovers Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot. Besides the deeper and more expansive sonic explorations, Koz and Friends also extend the timeline of their palette of re-imagined gems..

Here, The 60’s and 70’s jams like “More Today Than Yesterday,” “If You Really Love Me,” “Keep That Same Old Feeling” and “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” lay the foundation for diverse explorations of classics outside those decades by Maze (“Before I Let Go”), Paul Simon (“Late In the Evening”), Miami Sound Machine (“Conga”), Michael Jackson (a stunning Koz performance on the anthem “Earth Song”) and Bobby Troup (the never gets old travelogue “Route 66”).

Koz saves his greatest stroke of genius for the title track, where he seamlessly bridges eras and genres (and shows just how much jazz may have in common with hip-hop!) by blending classics by Duke Ellington and Jay-Z.

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