Being a saxophone player in the pop music market demands versatility.
For Dave Koz, whose self-titled debut album garnered a significant amount of airplay with a single called "Castle of Dreams," finding success and building a reputation within the industry has meant playing with anybody, anytime and anywhere.
The Los Angeles native's exposure began in 1987, at age 24, when he was a member of Richard Marx's touring band. Marx began that year as a virtual unknown and ended it with a massive arena tour playing before crowds of more than 20,000.
Since then he has done session work with the likes of U2, Donny Osmond, Natalie Cole and Hugh Harris. He was also Tom Scott's right-hand man in the house band for the short-lived "Pat Sajak Show."
"For me getting experience in all of those areas was the key," said Koz, who will appear at Max's on Broadway tonight with R&B; singer Phil Perry. "Every step I take and every time I play, I'm helping my career. Up until now, I've been pretty good at picking the right people to play with and building a reputation for being a good sax player."
Also not hurting the situation is pop fans' current fascination with sax players like David Sanborn and Kenny G.
"It's wonderful that what I do is becoming somewhat in vogue again," Koz said. "I never thought 'Castle of Dreams' would get played on the radio but it turned out to be a pretty big hit. I'll bet Kenny G. thought the same thing three years ago. You just can never tell."
The marriage with Perry for a series of tour dates came for two reasons: they both record for Capitol Records and the music seemed to be a perfect match.
"I come out and do a set and then he does one and then we do another mini-set together at the end," Koz said. "Phil is an amazing singer that not a lot of people know about yet."
Perry has had his own string of good fortune with a cover of Aretha Franklin's "Call Me," which hit No. 1 on the Billboard R&B; singles chart, and his latest single, "Amazing Love," which is currently headed up the charts.
Earlier in the Perry-Koz tour, critics raved about the duo's cover of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered."
"The best part of this tour for me is that we're playing in clubs where the show is a little more loose," Koz said. "It's a totally different feeling when you can reach out and touch the people in the front. Especially playing the kind of music I play, it's important to have that close contact and to keep people interested and involved in the music."
The concert calendar:
The Pier Six Concert Pavilion hosts the Smothers Brothers and The Kingston Trio (tonight), Reba McEntire (tomorrow), David Sanborn (Saturday) and Anne Murray (Tuesday).
Tonight at the Capital Centre, Operation Rock 'n' Roll makes its only local stop with Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Motorhead, Metal Church and Dangerous Toys.
The "Lollapolooza Tour," featuring Jane's Addiction, Living Colour, Ice-T, B---hole Surfers, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Nine Inch Nails, comes to Lake Fairfax, Va., tomorrow afternoon.
ZZ Top and Extreme perform at the Baltimore Arena Sept. 14.