Koz and Sanborn Perform “Side By Side” for the First Time
The success of platinum-selling saxophonist Dave Koz is idolized by musicians all over the world; inspired to follow their artistic dreams through his music. Despite a career that is fast approaching legendary status, Koz still remembers the immortal words of the one who first inspired him.
“I remember meeting (David Sanborn) backstage when I was in high school and I couldn’t believe I was coming face to face with my idol,” Koz said during a recent phone interview. “I saw him and just blurted out ‘I want to be just like you.’ He looked at me and said the words that have stuck with me to this day. He said ‘There already is a me. So, you should just be you.’ I really took those words to heart.”
Now Koz has the opportunity to work side by side with his idol, six time Grammy Award-winning Sanborn, when their “Side By Side” tour kicks off at Thornton Winery in Temecula on July 30th as part of the winery’s annual Champagne Jazz Concert Series.
“David (Sanborn) is one of my major saxophone heroes and is one of the architects of modern saxophone playing. If I had to pick one guy who was ‘it’ for me growing up, it would be him,” Koz said. “Now, here we are doing a tour together. It was an idea that was floating around in my mind for years and I was – fingers crossed – just waiting for him to say yes. We’ve been colleagues and friends for a very long time, but we’ve never worked together in this way before. It’s a big change for our friendship and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Koz and Sanborn’s “Side By Side” tour will include music from both artists’ albums as well as a few surprises.
“The plan is for us to be on stage together for a big chunk of time, at least half the show,” Koz said. “There will be times where I’m taking my saxophone to his music and vice versa, as well as some new songs that neither of us have played before. I think this is a great opportunity for both of our respective catalogues to be turned a bit upside down. It’s a new twist on some of the music you already know.”
Performing with what he refers to as a “super band,” comprised of some both his and Sanborn’s regular musicians, Koz feels all involved are up for the new challenges and potential triumphs the “Side By Side” tour provides.
“Everybody’s goal is to approach it with open arms, open ears and open eyes and to just try our best. We will give everything a new look and feel and see what we come up with,” he said. “People who are fans of my music and fans of David’s music are going to be very satisfied because they are going to get a lot of it and they are going to be getting it in a new way.”
But what is it like for that former high school kid to know that his idol is now also one of his fans?
“I never said he was a fan,” Koz said, laughing. “Seriously, I don’t think David would have said yes to this tour if he didn’t have respect for what I do and my music, just like I have tremendous respect for what he does. It’s a mutual admiration and respect for each other’s career paths but, it’s also a great shot in the arm and feather in the cap for me because it’s almost like the king is knighting me, or something. Its great confirmation of the things I’ve been working on for so many years.”
(A version of this story was originally published in the San Diego Union Tribune)