Revving up the crowd, Dave Koz on sax was first on the set. Guitarist Marc Antoine, trumpeter Chris Botti and pianist Jeff Lorber were to follow. Warming up the crowd, Lorber’s "Gigabyte" from his Philly Style album was featured. Lorber was classically vibrant with Koz playing on tenor sax. Marc Antoine was beautifully eloquent in "Funky Picante" from his Mediterraneo CD, while Chris Botti complimented the Latin flavor with an unbridled solo.
Next up was Botti’s tantalizing rendition of "Lisa" from the Night Sessions album. Jeff Lorber followed with a moving piece that featured guitarist and founding member of Rufus, Tony Maiden, on vocals. Antoine would then extend the invitation, "Let’s go and dance the salsa." Watching Antoine’s fingers move effortlessly on the acoustic guitar was magical.
Botti’s rendition of "My Funny Valentine" from the A Thousand Kisses Deep album was passionately stirring. A "trippy version" the trumpeter’s "Why Not" was to follow. Where "My Funny Valentine" was all about expressively holding back, "Why Not" was more about the freedom of letting go. Lorber added a bit of spark when he stepped from behind the keyboards to play on a strapped portable. After the wild ride, Antoine asked the crowd, "The point is what am I supposed to do with the frenzy I just heard?" Antoine then proceeded to captivate the audience with a prolific guitar solo that had everyone on the edge of their seats.
Watching the musicians challenge each other through the evening added to the excitement. However, the collaboration and mutual admiration between the guys was crystal clear. Antoine and Botti would join in with Lorber for an entertaining melody that allowed each soloist and the band to shine. Koz would note later Lorber’s special contributions to his career and that of others.
After a brief intermission, Koz stepped out to own the night with a charismatic performance in "Let It Free." The crowd was rocking to "Can’t Let you Go (The Sha la Song)." Koz would play several outstanding creations from his latest release, Saxophonic. Each melody had the audience clapping madly and begging for more. "Well I guess this place has been funkitized now. We’ve broken the place in," commented Koz.
Lorber, Antoine and Botti would again be featured in several songs to follow. The flawless performance had the concertgoers on their feet long before the closing ovation. Koz and Botti would go head-to-head in a version of "Sound of the Underground" that was full of hard driving rhythms and off-kilter experimentation. By comparison, "Definition of Beautiful" with laidback vibes was romantically enticing with band members as featured vocals.
As the night came to a close, the enthusiastic audience of 1,300 people couldn’t stop their applause. Seeing four of the most prolific jazz artists together was a once in a lifetime experience. Backed up by a killer band, the Saxophonic Tour is sure to please even the most finicky jazz connoisseur. The tour will continue across the United States through the beginning of November with Dave Koz and Friends A Smooth Jazz Christmas to follow.