On this summer-themed release, saxophonist Dave Koz teams up fellow reed players Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and Mindi Abair to revisit songs that marked their youths, giving them a contemporary flavor. The record kicks off with a funky take on Ronnie Laws’ “Always There” that features individual moments from all four players and sets the tone for the disc. A soul-tinged take on the Beatles’ “Got to Get You Into My Life” follows, one of the few songs ever recorded by the Fab Four to actually feature a horn section. The arrangement here is a bit closer to Earth Wind & Fire’s 1978 single, and the players seem to have a ball with it, swapping solos around the basic melody.
Soul singer Jeffrey Osborne guests on a spine-tingling take on “God Bless the Child,” which here is played more bluesy. The four musicians pay tribute to the recently deceased Dave Brubeck with an uptempo update on “Take Five.” Also notable are the instrumental versions for James Brown’s “I Got You—I Feel Good” and “You Haven’t Done Nothing,” which gives the group a big fat sound with the addition of trombonist Brian Culbertson and trumpet player Rick Braun.
This is the kind of lively record to play over and over during these warm days. (Ernest Barteldes)
Dave Koz & Friends