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‘Everything is sweeter and richer’
Dave Koz chats about the benefits of being out
“Isn’t it ironic that a good Jewish boy like me has made so many Christmas albums,” says jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, who just whipped through Ohio on his annual holiday tour, playing jazz-influenced music for the season of lights, celebrations and cheer.
Koz hit Columbus’ Palace Theater on December 8 and Cleveland’s Palace Theater on December 11, playing songs from his newest album, Memories of a Winter’s Night, his second release in 2007. He has been to both cities many times before and said that he has been able to enjoy both, even though his tours are typically hectic. This year he covers 23 shows in 27 days playing to average houses of 2,000 in each city.
Koz speaks openly and has a very friendly demeanor, chatting garrulously about his music, his life and being out in the entertainment industry.
He grew up Jewish, “celebrating Hanukah” with his parents, brothers and sisters. He says he has “been able to enjoy the best of both worlds”--being Jewish and making music for the holiday season that is centered on Christmas.
Koz, one of a clutch of openly gay jazz musicians, said he has not experienced any homophobia in the music industry.
“I really haven’t seen it if it exists,” he said. “There are not that many out performers anyways, especially male ones.”
“It is also a generational thing,” he continues, “because I am forty-four and grew up when we internalized a lot of homophobia.”
Koz believes that as the younger generations grow up with greater LGBT acceptance, more and more musicians will come out, which already seems to be happening.
“I worried about what would happen if I showed up as who I really was,” Koz said. “Younger artists are saying, ‘Here is who I am,’ because they are much freer to come out.
Koz believes that coming out as he did, albeit a bit later in life, “was the best thing” he ever did.
“It’s about freedom, truly being comfy in your own skin.” He is emphatic that coming out is “all about timing, about each person’s own journey.”
“You can’t tell people to do it,” he adds. “For me, I was not playing my life with a full deck of cards before I came out. When I did, I became a full person. It’s an intangible thing, hard to put into words.”
Koz advises that coming out is truly about “reclaiming your life, after which a thread of authenticity runs through everything you do, you touch.”
“Everything is sweeter and richer,” he concludes.
Even though he is hectically running around on tour, he is paying attention to the upcoming presidential campaign.
“The person I would love to be president is not running,” Koz says. “Al Gore deserves his shot because he is the smartest person and I have the utmost respect for him.”
Koz believes that a change is important right now when it comes to American leadership and politics.
“I wonder if we are really ready to elect a woman,” he confesses. “I hope we are evolved enough for a fresh start.”
He believes that a woman in the White House “would be a different way of thought for us and for the world.” Koz feels that the time is right and ready for “a woman’s perspective in the Oval Office.”
Koz will be joined on this tour with vocalist Patti Austin, pianist/composer David Benoit and guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Butler.
His music is certainly a great gift to his fans and audiences this holiday season. More importantly, his courage and pride as an out role model who has achieved so much success and acclaim is an immeasurable gift to other artists and LGBT people in general who want to, and should, live life more authentically.
Memories of a Winter’s Night, At the Movies and other Dave Koz CDs are in stores now, and add warmth to the holiday season, as a late Hanukah present or for Christmas, Kwanzaa or even an early Al-Hijra gift.