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CD Review: Dave Koz and Friends "20th Anniversary Christmas" 092

September 22, 2017

Dave Koz & Friends 20th Anniversary ChristmasRelease Date 09/29/17

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By: Keivu Knox

Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas



Even though the Holiday season is a few months away, saxophonist Dave Koz, is giving us an early Christmas present with his new release. Celebrating twenty years of his successful Christmas concerts and armed with an A-List of musicians and singers, Koz releases his 6th Christmas album, simply titled “Dave Koz and Friends: 20th Anniversary Christmas.”



For some it could be a daunting task to recreate the wheel and record new and original versions of timeless Christmas classics, but Koz is able to navigate this task with ease. “Winter Wonderland” is the album’s opener and within the first few seconds, the Holiday Spirit fills your ears and heart. Joining Koz in the core band are pianist David Benoit, trumpeter Rick Braun, and guitarist Peter White, which are also the original band members at the start of Koz’s Christmas concept.  “Joy To The Wonderful World” is  a poignant medley of “Joy to the World” and “What a Wonderful World.” It’s the perfect soundtrack to a winter stroll through the park.  “Christmas Time Is Here” is one of my favorites, as this gorgeous melody gives room for everyone to deliver their personal touch to this holiday gem.



This album is not just about the instrumentals. Gabriel Orengo jumps on board for a cover of Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” that evokes Take 6-like harmonies by the end of the track. Selina Albright delivers a powerful and commanding vocal performance on “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” that arguably becomes the modern day standard that all future versions can only hope to match. On “Silent Night,” Javier Colon lends his soaring vocals to a song that evolves from a gentle lullaby to an emotional message of peace. Not to be outdone, Kenny Lattimore presents his take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that showcases all of the great vocal dynamics that has made his voice such a force in the r&b and jazz circles. The album closes with the best of both the instrumental and vocal worlds with “The Home Medley.” On this track we find a lovely instrumental interpretation of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and a rousing and inspired version of Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home featuring the incomparable Jeffrey Osborne on lead vocals. It is the perfect closing song that captures the essence of the Christmas season.


 


While most Christmas albums have a shelf life of a couple of months, “Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas” is a strong enough album that delivers on any day during the year.It is truly a gift that keeps on giving, and as the season of Thanksgiving approaches, we are sincerely thankful to Koz and Friends for this musical present.  Grab your friends and family, roast some chestnuts on an open fire, bake some cookies and enjoy!