"The reason I studied them was because I think it's important, being a contemporary saxophonist, to at least take a look at where the sax has been in the past.
"But, when it came time to play what I felt in my heart, it wasn't that. What I have on my record is just honest, an accurate representation of me when I made the record."
Koz, who is single and lives in Los Angeles, has played on albums by Ray Charles, Joan Armatrading Natalie Cole and even U2, but he credits singer Bobby Caldwell with launching him into the limelight. Koz played sax on Caldwell's 1989 release "Heart of Mine" and joined Caldwell for several club dates around Los Angeles.
Los Angeles saxophonist Tom Scott has been another of Koz's mentors. Koz finally hooked up with his hero when they played together in the house band for Pat Sajak's short-lived late-night television show, which lasted just over a year and went off the air in 1989.
"I grew up admiring him so much, as a player and a consummate musician," Koz said of Scott. "Regardless of whether the 'Pat Sajak Show' was good, I got a chance to work with my idol every night, five nights a week, and that was a dream come true for me."
Koz comes to San Diego fresh off an early September promotional tour that took him through six countries in 14 days, with stops in Taipei, Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.
According to his publicist, Koz was marketed abroad as a pop star, and as such was mobbed by teen-age girls, to the extent that he required a bodyguard at times.
"It was really my first experience at being a celebrity," Koz said. "It was really incredible. I picked up my first gold record in Malaysia. Even though gold there is 15,000 copies, which we've sold many times over in the U.S., it was a big deal."
This is Koz's first time at Humphrey's, and his appearance at the 1,200-seat venue is a sign of his rocketing career. When he played San Diego last May with singer Phil Perry, they appeared at the Bacchanal.
Koz has been amazed at his success.
"My goal in putting out this record was to sell as many as it would take for them (Capitol Records) to let me make another record," he said. "I've certainly reached that goal. The next goal was 100,000, which for an instrumental artist is a milestone. Everything else has been icing on the cake. I'm thrilled beyond my wildest dreams."
Larry Carlton and Dave Koz will play shows at 6 and 8:30 this Sunday night at Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay. Tickets are $20, and are available for both shows.