Though his latest Christmas Tour is just underway, Dave Koz is already planning next year's trek -- which will mark 20 years since he first took the holiday package on the road.
The saxophonist tells Billboard that to commemorate the anniversary he plans to reunite the original Christmas Tour crew of David Benoit, Peter White and Rick Braun in 2017. "A lot of very wonderful energy will be on that, kind of make it full circle," Koz says. "I never thought in a million years we'd be doing it this long. There's a familiarity thing that happens with this music; People hold on to these traditions and somehow we've become part of a lot of people's traditions. It's amazing. The most surprised person about this whole thing is me. I think it deserves to have a celebration of some sort, so next year will be very special."
Koz is high on this year's Christmas Tour, too, of course, which features Jonathan Butler, Valerie Simpson and Kenny Lattimore on a 24-tour itinerary that wraps Dec. 22 in San Jose. Koz notes that it's the first time he's featured three vocalists, and in the contentious wake of this year's presidential election the shows seem to be providing a bit of balm to the crowds so far.
"There's such a warmth and energy to these songs," Koz says. "They make people feel good, so innocent. Especially coming off this last couple months of just craziness and divisiveness, it's so reassuring. It does a lot of good for all of our hearts on stage to see people melting a little bit and letting their guard down and hopefully be a little kinder in the holiday season and the new year. We need more of that, common kindness."
Koz, who's released three holiday albums, says his plans for the tour's 20th anniversary may also include some studio time. "I would love to go in the studio and record with the guys, maybe do a little retrospective and some new music," he notes. He's also planning to work on a new album of his own in the new year, although Koz hasn't "narrowed in" on what direction he'll take. Meanwhile, he's also still buzzing about being the special guest on Barry Manilow's One More Time! Tour during the past couple of years, which brought new fans to Koz's own shows.
"I just met up with some Manilow fans the other night in Naples," Koz says. "They were there and came backstage and said, 'We saw you with Barry in Florida. This is our first Christmas show and we won't miss any more in the future.' So touring with (Manilow) was an amazing experience for me. He went above and beyond to truly make his fans really aware of me. It was really sweet. I don't know if he'll ever do a big tour like that again, but I'm happy to play with him any time he wants."