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Dave Koz touring with plenty of Christmas cheer in tow

Dave Koz brings his holiday show Chicago Theatre Saturday.

Dave Koz brings his holiday show to the Chicago Theatre on Saturday.

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♦ 8 p.m. Dec. 8

♦ Chicago Theatre,
175 N. State

♦ Tickets, $43-$88

♦ (312) 462-6300;

A few years back, country-pop princess Taylor Swift sung of teardrops on her guitar… but teardrops on a saxophone? Around this time of the year, it can happen at the drop of a snowflake for saxophonist Dave Koz.

“There is this point in the first act of our show where I get to do this virtual duet with Bing Crosby of the holiday classic ‘White Christmas,’ and yes, there I am on stage getting all misty-eyed,” chuckles Koz, who brings his “Dave Koz and Friend Christmas Tour 2012” to the Chicago Theatre on Dec. 8. “It’s such a beautiful melody that can take you back no matter how old you are. You almost don’t even have to sing the words for the feeling of the song to be conveyed.”

A man known for loving a summer afternoon at Wrigley Field and a winter afternoon shopping along Michigan Avenue, Koz says he is thrilled to come back to Chicago to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his high-energy holiday show.

“We always have a great show in Chicago,” gushes Koz from a recent tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia. “We play 26 shows in 30 days on this tour, and no matter where we are, the audience is always the secret ingredient. There are plenty of nights when I am backstage and I really don’t know how I am going to do it. Yet, the lights go up and I start feeling the energy of the audience… and believe me when I say that there is nothing like the [adrenaline] rush of love you get from an audience. And in a place such as Chicago Theatre, which is essentially made for live concerts? It’s just an amazing feeling.”

The seven-time Grammy nominee brings with him a number of acts to help boost holiday spirits, including pianist/composer David Benoit, singer-songwriter Margo Rey and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Sheila E, who makes her debut in the Christmas lineup after appearances on previous Dave Koz & Friends summer tours.

“Sheila E is like another sister to me,” says Koz, whose career has spanned 20 years and spawned a dozen albums. “She has never done a Christmas tour before, but she had put together some new arrangements and I knew I wanted her out with us. Her arrangement of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ — now called ‘Little Drummer Girl’ — has to be one of the most spectacular arrangements of the song that I have ever heard. She brings an undeniable amount of fire and energy to the show.”

Also on the tour is Javier Colon, who sang on Koz’s “Saxophonic” album and was the winner of the inaugural season of NBC’s hit television show, “The Voice.”

“One day I’m channel surfing and saw his mug on ‘The Voice’ and I couldn’t believe it,” Koz laughs. “Not only is he amazingly talented, but he is perfectly tailored to sing Christmas music. His voice is just so innocent and beautiful and pure, and it’s a revelation to a lot of people to hear him sing live. He does a rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ that gets a standing ovation every night.”

Koz has found man ways to remain relevant in today’s constantly changing musical climate. Not only does he find himself promoting his line of KOZ Wines and his “Dave Koz at Sea” annual cruises, he also released his very first live album this fall with “Live at the Blue Note Toyko,” which includes a handful of his hits such as “You Make Me Smile,” “Faces Of The Heart” and “Put The Top Down.”

“I love doing different projects all at the same time,” says the California native. “The music business used to be a real horizontal business in which you tried to grab the most amounts of people you possibly could across a horizontal place. These days, it feels as if the whole point is to figure out how many different ways can you touch the people you already have. And in the process, find a way to expand the number of fans from there. I’ve been doing this for many years, so every time I can touch and say thank you to my loyal supporters, I take advantage of it.”

And while Koz says he loves the holiday tour, it can wear on him. “Come December 24, you will find me flat out on the couch, probably not being able to talk, in my tree house getaway in California,” he laughs. “It’s the perfect way to end the year, and look forward to the next.”

Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.

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