In a phone interview two weeks ago, I was supposed to discuss smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz’s upcoming appearance on tour with Barry Manilow at the BB&T Center.
But, the conversation quickly turned to musical legend David Bowie, who suddenly died just a few days earlier, sparking worldwide reaction.
“It’s funny. People who have been around for a long time, you take them for granted for a long time,” Koz said. “It’s a reason to take another look at the body of work they have created.”
Koz, who is openly gay, genuinely admired Bowie, who was bisexual and brought down many sexual identity stereotypes through his alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust.
“It’s amazing to look at how courageous this man was. He was genre-busting and fearless. What he stood for was so powerful at a time when nobody had the guts,” he explained. “David Bowie brought about a massive amount of change.”
Ironically, Bowie’s last album, “Blackstar,” was released just two days before his death. A parting gift to fans, the album included a single, “Lazarus,” named after the Biblical character raised from the dead by Jesus.
“That’s the spirit of musicians. It keeps you young, always searching. That’s where the real inspiration comes from,” Koz said of his musical hero.
The smooth jazz saxophonist, who regular appears in the region on his annual “Dave Koz & Friends” Christmas tour, returns to South Florida with another hero, Barry Manilow, on the singer and songwriter’s “One Last Time” tour.
Koz, who appeared with Manilow in 30 cities in 2015, said the experience was an honor.
“I grew up listening to Barry’s music,” Koz said. “When I was 13, 14, 15 years old, that was the music I loved. I really was a pop kid. Even though I played saxophone, I was raised on pop music. I remember looking at him and listening to him and absorbing his music.”
Now, Koz is on the road with the icon, taking advantage of the opportunity to “see how he works,” adding, “Barry is a great performer, but he’s also a great musician. The side people don’t see is he’s always tinkering with the music to make it sound fresh every year.”
Manilow may be 72, but Koz says he shows up to every performance and gives it “every bit of what he is. I want to be doing that for another 20 years. If I have breath, I want it to be going through a saxophone.”
Koz himself celebrated the 25th anniversary of his own first album last year and his career continues to be “a dream.”
He toured mainland China for the first time last year and was “completely blown away” by the number of fans who attended his concerts. His smooth jazz cruise of the southern Caribbean later this year has already sold out and he’s planning another in 2017 in the Mediterranean. Another album is also in the works.
But, in the meantime, he’s just enjoying the opportunity to bring a little musical joy to audiences with Barry Manilow.
Dave Koz appears with Barry Manilow on Friday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.