Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tune up for Jazz in the Pines festival in Idyllwild

But he knows from past visits to the alpine community that this is going to be his kind of festival.

Koz, a Los Angeles native, just played a gig last weekend at a Temecula winery. He plays 25 to 35 gigs every summer, and many of them are at wineries.

"There's a magic thing that happens between sun and wine and music and the outdoors," Koz said. "It's a beautiful thing, and it really makes for a lovely experience."

Jazz in the Pines will feature sets of music over two days in indoor settings and a meadow among giant evergreens on the Idyllwild Arts Academy campus

Koz, who came up with fusion and R&B bands and has played with rock bands, says “nothing can transplant being out in the middle of nature in a beautiful environment listening to music that is inspiring as much as the environment is.”

He said he appreciates the bebop that was played late at night in smoke-filled nightclub cellars but the new contemporary jazz, or smooth jazz, seems ideally fitted to beautiful outdoor locations such as Idyllwild or the California wineries.

"There are some gigs you have to (do) for routing," he said, "but there are always favorites. The ones we all look forward to are the ones that provide the musician with a little extra additive inspiration. If you're really taken care of and it's beautiful and everybody's having a great time, it's just going to be that much better of a show."

Koz's favorite gigs include the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and the Planting Fields Festival in Oyster Bay.

He said he also likes playing the Palm Springs Smooth Jazz Festival.

Koz's father was an L.A. physician, and he loved taking his family to Palm Springs.

"We used to go there constantly, all year round," he said. "We'd rent a little place for the weekend. It's ironic. My dad was a dermatologist, and he loved to be in that sun."

Koz has become friends with Barry Manilow in the desert. Manilow has said he discovered Koz while listening to Jim Fitzgerald's local morning show on KJJZ-FM, and they wound up playing on each others' CDs.

Koz offers several saxophone solos on Manilow's upcoming "Greatest Hits of the Eighties."

Koz says another of his favorite live performances was indoors at the McCallum Theatre when Manilow decided to make a "surprise" appearance.

"I knew it was going to happen, but no one else did," Koz recalled. "He's a good friend, and we had this idea of him popping up in the middle of my show and saying, 'I want to do something.' And he launched into a song. The crowd went berserk. It was absolutely hysterical."