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'Family' CD Puts Them to Sleep

'Golden Slumber,' lullabies from Dave Koz and his smooth-jazz collaborators, is the first release on his new record label.

September 26, 2002|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saxophonist Dave Koz, one of smooth jazz's top headliners, is reaching out to a new audience. Really new. We're talking babies.

Koz, who co-hosts the morning drive-time show on the "Wave" (KTWV-FM 94.7), hosts his own syndicated radio show and has a string of hit singles and gold albums, is now in the rock-a-bye-baby business. His "Golden Slumbers: A Father's Lullaby" album, is the debut of Koz's record label, Rendezvous Entertainment, associated with the jazz division of Warner Bros. Records.

A friends-and-family affair, the sweet and tender CD--it's "like a sacred sound between a father and a baby," said Koz--features a stellar list of smooth-jazz talent, including pianist David Benoit, trumpeter Rick Braun, guitarists Norman Brown and Peter White, keyboardist Bryan Culbertson and Koz's brother, jazz guitarist Jeff Koz, whose wife, Unique, suggested the project.

Inspired by the birth of Jeff's first daughter, Jordan, it was "a labor of love," Dave Koz said. "That's where it came from first. My sister-in-law was looking for some quality lullaby music and most of the stuff that she found didn't quite work."

"Ninety-nine percent were vocal songs," Jeff Koz explained. "Every time the singer came in, our daughter would pop her head up--she was attracted to the human voice."

"My brother and I have been making music together for years," Dave Koz said. "This was fun for us, because it wasn't about making records or showing how much chops you have on your instrument; it was to make music that would soothe this little new baby."

That intimate family affair gradually expanded to include plans for future albums, books and a Web site (www.goldenslumbers.com) featuring a monthly forum with child-development specialists and pediatricians.

The "father's lullaby" theme emerged as the artists chose songs with their own families in mind. Their personal dedications, included in the album's liner notes, increased over the three years that it took to put the album together.

During that time, the birth of Jeff's second daughter inspired the brothers to write "Lullaby for Isabella," White wrote "Charlotte's Song" for his recently adopted daughter and guitarist Bruce Watson arranged and performed the traditional "Hush Little Baby" and "Afro Cuban Lullaby" for his new baby.

"It was a double kind of snuggle factor," Jeff Koz said, "because it was inspired by their relationship with their child. And it was music where less is more, so each artist's contribution was very beautiful and evocative and personal."

The CD's tracks are "old, new and unexpected," said Dave Koz. "The unexpected ones are like the title track, 'Golden Slumbers,' by the Beatles--it's not a lullaby, but when you slow it down it really works--and the James Taylor song 'You Can Close Your Eyes.' "

Braun performed "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" because his mother, who had recently died, used to sing it to him. "When You Wish Upon a Star" was Benoit's sentimental childhood favorite. Benoit, who volunteers with the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and who founded the Asia America Youth Honor Orchestra in Palos Verdes, was looking forward to the finished CD to "officially try it out" on his 2-year-old.

"Most of us are involved with kid stuff because I think we're all kind of kids at heart anyway," said Dave Koz, who serves as a global ambassador for the Starlight Foundation, while brother Jeff is involved with the L.A.-based Inner-City Filmmakers, both youth-oriented charities.

"We weren't jazz musicians when we were in the studio," he added. "We were parents and uncles and family members making these little love melodies."

The Kozes have dedicated the album to their late father, who, with their mother, encouraged the sons to explore their passions.

"When I picked up the sax," Dave Koz said, "they were very supportive. When my dad bought me my first saxophone, it was probably one of the happiest days of my life."

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