Everyone has their own holiday traditions, and one of ours, when we can, is see the Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Show. Last night, we had the chance when it made its second stop on its current tour at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
Koz said, believe it or not, this is the 22nd edition, so it's clear this has become a real tradition for him, too. In previous years we've seen the show in Dallas, Columbus, Ohio and a number of times in Florida.
One of the treats is finding out who the "Friends" are that will be joining Koz onstage. This year's lineup included powerhouse saxophonist Michael Lington, the incomparable Jonathan Butler, legendary songstress Melissa Manchester and Chris Walker, producer and musical director for the late, great Al Jarreau. So much talent on one stage, and each is a headliner in their own right.
This year's show was heavy on lighting and stage effects. You could almost call it, "Dave Koz and Friends' Psychedelic Christmas." But the visuals were particularly effective on the dramatic opening sequence, and also lended a touch of fun throughout with video interludes as well.
Speaking of fun, Koz and Ms. Manchester -- both Jewish -- did a funny bit where they commiserated about how Christmas celebrations overpower Hanukkah. We also enjoyed Butler roaming the audience and inviting people to sing along with him.
For us, the highlight was Lington's masterful rendition of "Show Me," accompanied by the four-piece stage band. What he can do with a sax is truly amazing. Of course, Koz had plenty of moments on sax as well. His energy, generosity and positivity are infectious.
During the show, Koz talked about a charity he supports -- The Starlight Childrens Foundation, which assists with the medical needs of kids. At each stop, the show is donating a virtual reality headset to a local hospital. In West Palm, it's St. Marys. Applause, applause.
Koz and friends ended the show by forming a "Love Train" to the song of the same name and exiting to loud cheers. What a great way to kick off the holiday season, and hopefully, we'll be back to see number 23 next year.
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."