Eight-time GRAMMY® nominee Dave Koz remembers a time when the summers lasted forever, and the most popular rock, R&B, soul and funk bands of the day were propelled by high-octane, richly arranged horn sections. Indeed, from the late 1960s through the ‘70s, bands like Sly & the Family Stone, Tower of Power, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears and other brassy juggernauts of the era ruled the airwaves and opened his young ears to the saxophone’s limitless possibilities as a solo instrument as well as a collaborative voice with the trumpet and trombone.
Four decades later, Koz has assembled three of his most talented and trusted colleagues – Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair – to revisit this golden age with new arrangements of classic songs from this period in the history of popular music. Dave Koz and Friends Summer Horns, produced by Paul Brown (Al Jarreau, George Benson, June Tabor, Boney James), is a collaborative effort that throws the spotlight on four high-profile saxophonists, and augments the team with several other equally talented musicians and vocalists. Summer Horns, set for release on June 11, 2013, on Concord Records, turns up the heat just in time for the summer tour season.
“The first album I ever bought was Back To Oakland, the 1974 recording by Tower of Power,” says Koz. “I’ve always been fascinated with that sound. There are few things in music that are as exciting as the energy that comes from a really tight horn section. Over the years, that sound has graced some of the greatest records of all time by bands like Sly & the Family Stone, Earth Wind & Fire, and so many others. That’s what Gerald, Richard, Mindi and I are recreating on this recording.”
In addition to the four-member front line of saxophones, Summer Horns also includes guest appearances by trumpeter/flugelhornist Rick Braun, trombonist Brian Culbertson, and three seasoned vocalists: Michael McDonald, Jeffrey Osborne and Jonathan Butler.
But Summer Horns is just as much about the arrangers as it is about the musicians, says Koz. “We were very lucky to have horn arrangers on this project who wrote charts for a lot of those landmark records that I remember,” he says. “That includes Greg Adams, who was the chief horn arranger for Tower of Power during its heyday, and Tom Scott, who is not only a fantastic saxophonist in his own right, but also wrote charts for Michael Jackson, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, and so many others. We also had Gordon Goodwin, who is more of a modern-day horn arranger with his own Big Phat Band.”
With all of these talented collaborators at Koz’s disposal, a dream project like Summer Horns was inevitable. “In the back of my mind somewhere, I always knew that this record was waiting to come out,” he says. “It was just a matter of time until the right opportunity came along, and this was it – a chance to honor the great horn bands of the quintessential era of music that gave us so many great songs.”