June 9, 2012 – At the end of what in the United Kingdom had been a Jubilee week, it was appropriate that smooth jazz royalty was on hand to add to the proceedings. Closing out his nine-night UK mini-tour, the king of contemporary jazz, aka Dave Koz, hit the stage of the Cinnamon Club, in the southern suburbs of Manchester, with the sort of energy that exemplified his unrivalled reputation, not only as one of the finest sax players around but also as the consummate showman. The fact that Koz was in the company of long-time Musical Director (and now a hit recording artist in his own right) Brian Simpson only added to this truly regal occasion and with a full English backing line-up of Frank Felix on bass, Marc Parnell on drums and Mark James on guitar it was clear from the opening note of the opening tune that the band were stoked and ready to go.
In a ninety-minute plus performance, punctuated only by a short intermission, the opening set was all about Koz’s current album, ‘Hello Tomorrow’ and the zesty ‘Put The Top Down’ (that Koz wrote in partnership with Brian Culbertson) gave Mark James the first chance of many to shine on guitar. The easy grooving ‘Anything’s Possible’ was received with equal rapture by a Cinnamon crowd well known for its knowledge of smooth jazz while when Koz delivered a silky rendition of the Bacharach - David classic ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ it enabled him to exercise what was revealed to be an excellent singing voice.
As Simpson moved center stage for a terrific take on ‘Juicy’ from his own 2007 collection ‘Above The Clouds’ it provided a stylish link between the funky groove of ‘All I See Is You’ (from Koz’s 2003 project ‘Saxophonic’) and the equally ‘off the chain’ ‘Silver Lining’ that can be found on his 1993 CD ‘Lucky Man’. Both proved to be highlights of the entire night and as Koz got the second set underway with another number from ‘Saxophonic’, the wonderful ‘Honey Dipped’, there was little doubt he was enjoying every second of his very first visit to the North West of England.
He even found time to notch down the tempo as first with ‘Faces Of The Heart’ (also from ‘Lucky Man’) and again with Henry Mancini’s ‘The Pink Panther’, Koz demonstrated the more tender side of his musical persona. Later, when Brian Simpson re-captured the spotlight, he retained this mellow theme for the hugely seductive ‘Lets Get Close’ (from ‘Above The Clouds’) but normal groove-drenched service was quickly resumed as Koz joined his old friend for the title cut from Simpson’s breakthrough recording ‘It’s All Good’. The audience was hungry for more and as Koz drove the show on toward a fittingly high octane conclusion his 1993 blockbuster ‘You Make Me Smile’ paved the way for a terrific closing Michael Jackson medley all built around the spectacular ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’.
It served as a perfect end to an incredible evening and left all those there to hope that it won’t be too long before Dave Koz again finds his way to the North West.