Ipswich: Sax star Dave Koz blows into town with Barry Manilow this Friday

Nine-time Grammy nominated saxophonist Dave Koz, opening for his good friend Barry Manilow at Ipswic

Nine-time Grammy nominated saxophonist Dave Koz, opening for his good friend Barry Manilow at Ipswich's Portman Road this Friday - Credit: Archant

Sibling rivalry can lead to good things. Take nine-time Grammy nominated saxophonist Dave Koz, supporting Barry Manilow at Portman Road on May 16.

Barry Manilow plays Portman Road, Ipswich, this Friday

Barry Manilow plays Portman Road, Ipswich, this Friday - Credit: Archant

“I was 13 and my older brother had a band growing up that played weddings, bar mitzvahs, fraternity parties, stuff like that. I saw him and his friends not have to get regular jobs, working on the weekends and making pretty good bucks and I was like okay, I want to be in that band. He made it very clear that was not going to ever happen,” remembers the platinum-selling solo artist, who has seven number one contemporary jazz albums under his belt.

“One day he let it slip the only way I could get in was if I played the sax because they didn’t have a sax player. So when I was in seventh grade I picked up the alto - which was the first instrument I played that felt really right in my hands - and I practiced my butt off for a couple of years.

“I would constantly bug him, it drove him crazy. I think how I really got into the band was so he could get me to shut. He said ‘fine you can do this one gig’ and that was all I really needed to prove myself. I think it was a wedding in Woodland Hills California.”

LA-born Koz, who’s played with the likes of Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Shelby Lynne, Kenny Loggins, U2, Manilow, Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross and Rod Stewart among others, admits he’s excited and nervous about opening for his long-term friend Manilow on tour.

“Not nervous because of him but because of the these venues we’re playing. I know everyone comes to see Barry, they’re going to see me and go ‘who are you, where’s Barry’,” he laughs. “It’s a nice thing to be able to have half and hour, whatever, to say ‘here’s what I do and here’s who I am’ and I’m excited and honoured to bring my music to Barry’s audience.

“I’m sure many people will be seeing me for the first time; I hope not to disappoint you and if you don’t like it I promise you it will be short enough, you’ll be seeing Barry soon enough” he laughs again.

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Koz is a regular visitor to Europe and Britain, playing with his UK collective who will back him up this time too. He loves English audiences.

“I love getting the chance to be an ambassador of American music, specifically American jazz music. UK audiences are so musically adventurous and the average person’s knowledge of music seems to go far deeper than the average American so that’s very inspiring.”

Next year marks his 25th anniversary of making his own records, he was gigging another 10 years before that.

“Like most things in life, if you stick around long enough people start to go ‘okay, I guess you’re not going away better take this seriously’,” he jokes as we discuss the roll-call of stars he’s collaborated with.

“I feel very blessed, all kidding aside, for a guy who blows through a piece of metal. I’ve had some unbelievable experiences and gotten the chance to make music around the world too with so many different people and take my own music around the world.”

Koz is a huge Manilow fan, promising Ipswich fans they’re in for phenomenal time.

“I know he takes each tour, each series of shows, very seriously and puts together a show that is truly magnificent. We haven’t gotten into the actual set yet, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion he’s going to drag me out there. I’d much rather play and be a part of the fun than sit on the side of the stage but whatever it is I’ll be happy.”

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