The opening track, “Put The Top Down,” emphasizes some of
the most funky rhythm environment of Koz’s illustrious career. Co-written by
Dave Koz and Brian Culbertson, this outstanding song features alluring primo
lead guitar work by Lee Ritenour teamed with the esteemed guitar duo of Ray
Parker, Jr. and Jonathan Butler. Marcus Miller, ever the Renaissance man, in
addition to adding his genius plucked bass guitar, provides a becoming horn
arrangement to the deep groove. Koz’s stellar alto saxophone and Ritenour’s
emblazoned guitar lead the charge on a winning melody with their call and
The sublime signature tenor saxophone of Boney James makes a
clearly identifiable guest appearance on “When Will I Know For Sure.” Koz
magnificently harmonizes on soprano sax, teaming with an all-star cast to make
this song a prime single on Contemporary Jazz radio. Koz and James are a
naturally potent combination; two true greats expertly feeding off each other’s
The richly romantic “It’s Always Been You” is the second of
the five Koz/Culbertson compositional treasures found on Hello Tomorrow.
Unmistakably their shared/co-billed concert tour of 2009 was extremely fruitful
in this artistic regard; a logically predictable and abundantly sweet
side-effect to the wonderful rousing shows they staged. “It’s Always Been You”
is tender and absolutely beautiful; a waltz for lovers affectionately presented
soft as the touch of a velvet glove.
“Getaway” features silky-smooth guitar work by Jonathan
Butler and Ray Parker, Jr. to enhance Koz’s mellow work on both soprano and tenor
sax. Butler and Sheila E., both of whom accompanied Koz on his most recent
concert tour, unite with a duo of background singers to provide augmenting airy
vocal interjections that float feathery on the melody like frangipani fragrance
on an island breeze.
Dave Koz is continually gently pushed beyond his customary
comfort boundaries on Hello Tomorrow by producers Burk and
Miller, as exemplified by his emotive and particularly competent lead vocal on
a rendition of the Hal David/Burt Bacharach penned classic “This Guy’s In Love
With You.” This earnest tribute to the venerable Herb Alpert, whose resplendent
trumpet appears here, tugs firmly on the heart strings.
Another Culbertson/Koz composition, “Anything’s Possible,”
allows Koz ample opportunity to get funkified on his tenor sax. The energized
horn section intensifies the musical stew pot that continually hotly simmers
just below boiling stage.
Keb’ Mo’ knowingly inserts his slide guitar twang against
the strong alto sax of Koz on a tune that has the relaxed feel of a Southern
back porch filled with friends and family. It’s entitled “There’s A Better
Way.” While Keb’ Mo’ provides a world-weary half-spoken vocal, Bobby Sparks II
on Hammond B-3 and Tim Carmon on Wurlitzer cozily flavor the song.
The vocal highlight of the disc is provided by Dana Glover
on her own composition entitled “Start All Over Again.” She is a rising young
star with a beautiful and distinctive voice that echoes past greats, but
remains uniquely her own. Koz refers to the song as a moving musical poem,
which describes it suitably. The lyrics match the positive confident tone of
the CD, but her vocals would be charmingly exquisite even with less relevant
The joyous good-timey jaunt “Think Big” is a union of
Contemporary Jazz with New Orleans Jazz spirit. The swinging beat of drummer
John “JR” Robinson with tidy percussion by Lenny Castro blend with bright
festive horns along with the ebullient guitar of Keb’ Mo’ to liberate a melody
that builds to a chorus crescendo and includes a hook sharp enough to grab any
listener’s attention. The fabulous horn section on this song consists of
Christian Scott on trumpet, Brian Culbertson on trombone, and Dave Koz wielding
soprano and tenor saxophones.
“The Journey,” written by Marcus Miller is an elegant slow
dance with a dreamy sway. It provides the perfect plush vehicle for Koz to
glide effortlessly on alto sax. Miller has plenty of experience with musical
soundtracks, and the quality of this song bears witness to his expertise. It is
also worth mentioning that written in the Hello Tomorrow liner
notes beside the listed personnel of each and every song, Koz waxes poetically
like a wise sage imparting his wisdom and uplifting philosophies. It’s a
spectacular idea that hits home like a thunderclap bringing his perceptions of
life into sharp focus.
The wizardly Jeff Lorber paired with Koz to write and
perform the up-tempo delight “Remember Where You Come From.” Together they
combine to concoct my most beloved song on a CD full of noteworthy songs.
Lorber provides additional production, his singular keyboard magic, and a
prominent piano solo as Koz struts on soprano and alto sax. Tim Carmon on
Fender Rhodes, Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar, Marcus Miller on bass, the always
meticulous percussionist Lenny Castro and drummer Omar Hakim all further the
excellent groove. Miller also arranges the killer horns led by Koz, and
including Dan Higgins, Gary Grant, Chuck Findley, and Alan Kaplan.
The CD closes with “What You Leave Behind,” a soft lullaby
that would have fit perfectly on 2002’s Golden Slumbers: A Father’s
Lullaby; Dave & Jeff Koz’s exceptional multi-artist collaboration that
affectionately gently rocked the cradle for babies and grown-ups alike. Koz is
firmly in his element on this soothing and luxuriant gem on which he plays
divine alto sax while being tastefully joined solely by Greg Phillinganes on
Fender Rhodes, David Delhomme on keyboards, and Marcus Miller on guitar. This
song, written by Dave Koz, is dedicated in admiring memory of Hal Gaba and
The move to Concord, a record label founded on the principal
to make love of music a priority, fully revitalized the creative genius that is
Dave Koz, and fulfilled the lofty expectations of his legion of devoted fans.
Dave Koz is an intelligent musician who genuinely feels each note he plays. The
unparalleled consistency on Hello Tomorrow with its overall
optimistic theme and impressive melodies, coupled with the esteemed assemblage
of prestigious blue-chip musicians proves to be the defining moment of Dave
Koz’s distinguished career.
Randall Parrish is a Senior Editor at Vivascene, with extensive publishing credits at various jazz and blues sites. He is also an avid guitar player whose musical knowledge of jazz, blues and roots music is widely respected. He can be reached by email here: RandallParrish@vivascene.com