By Jonathan Widran
Feeling flush with a burst of creativity in the months before COVID-19 changed our lives, and realizing he had a lot more to say musically, the irrepressible Dave Koz put aside all thoughts of releasing a nostalgic retrospective or another all-star Summer Horns or holiday project. Instead, working digitally and with social distance protocols in place, the nine-time Grammy nominee on A New Day, one of the most purposeful, empowering and exhilarating albums of his career. Dropping 30 years and one day after the release of Dave Koz, it’s a deeply comforting yet forward-thinking collection that marks his 20th album overall. Recorded entirely by musicians in quarantine, it features everything from an infectious, lighthearted tribute to the resilience of NYC to a tight, sizzling funk jam with Jeff Lorber that pays tribute to his dad, “Dr. Norm” and a dreamy, lyrical take on “Yesterday” with neo-soul great Meshell Ndegeocello. The action packed set is driven by Dave’s physically distant but emotionally right in our face interactions with a dream team of guests, including Brian McKnight, Bob James, Marc Antoine, Rick Braun, Paul Jackson, Jr., David Sanborn and Earth, Wind & Fire percussionist Ralph Johnson. Capturing a multitude of senses, it pairs perfectly with the intensely flavored, richly layered experience of Shafer 2018 Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay from Napa’s Carneros District. Koz and Friends’ spicy, unpredictable musical adventures provide the ideal soundtrack for a wine that has hints of apple, cinnamon, nutmeg and toasted oak.