Woodwind & Brasswind Contributing Writer – Greg Vail
Dave Koz is one of the premier saxophone players and instrumental music advocates in the world today. He is a Yamaha artist and is currently playing a silver-plated YAS-62 alto saxophone he purchased over 20 years ago! It was actually a backup sax until his car was stolen and a few of his instruments were lost at that time. The silver 62 has been his main alto since 1997, recently overhauled with new metal resonators.
Koz plays a metal Beechler #8 mouthpiece with some baffle work done by John Yoakum from Los Angeles, CA. He also uses Rico Royal plasticover #3 reeds with the standard Beechler ligature and said he plays #3 Plasticover on all of his instruments. He has been endorsed by Rico for many years and is fortunate to have Rico handpick reeds for him, based on his specific taste and need. He says the Plasticover reeds give him a little more consistency and extra brilliance that he doesn’t find in a traditional cane reed.
Dave is aware he is known for the typical bright pop sound, and doesn’t tend to change that up very often, but did admit he has a few other mouthpieces he uses from time to time to get a darker sound when needed. Koz definitely understands he has created a voice that many love and expect. Dave says, “Primarily, I am known for that sound (bright), that alto sound, and I kinda go with it.”
Dave’s tenor saxophone is a classic Selmer Mark VI tenor, circa 1963 (104,xxx). The neck was stripped and silver-plated but the rest of that sax is standard Selmer issue. He noted that the plating added a little more of a brighter sound and a little more immediacy to that horn. He has a few other tenor saxophones that are beautiful, like the new Ishimori tenor, but says the VI has unbeatable warmth that he has loved since high school. “It’s just pretty special,” Dave says.
His mouthpiece is a Berg Larson hard rubber 110 with baffle work done by John Yoakum again. He has played a few different tenor mouthpieces, but he has been playing this piece for over 20 years now for its “beautiful, warm, exact sound.” He uses a Winslow ligature and Rico plasticover #3 reeds. He is self admittedly not a gear head, and not too aware of all the trendy new stuff. “Generally speaking, I’m not much of a tinkerer. If it’s working, if it’s feeling good, I just go with it until further notice. I’ve been playing on the same mouthpieces for a long time because they’re working!”
Dave Koz is well known for his soprano saxophone sound and actually has 2 different soprano saxophones he regularly uses. The recording soprano is a beautiful Yamaha YSS-62S, silver-plated and straight. He has used this soprano on all his records and loves the sound.
Dave fell in love with the curved soprano sax for live shows years ago, and has owned 2 old nickel-plated Conn curved soprano saxophones from around 1914. He says they are a little hit and miss from that era, but this particular one he is now playing has an amazing sound about it. He has a few others that just aren’t quite the same. “That one is just special. It has a beautiful sound.”
Dave uses a plastic Couf #8 mouthpiece that is the same as the Runyon mouthpiece with no added baffle, with a Rovner ligature and plasticover #3 reeds. He feels like the curved soprano is just easier to use in live settings - the sound works really well with the bell facing up for hearing the pitch. Not surprisingly Dave likes the sound with a clip-on microphone better live.
Koz doesn’t play baritone saxophone very often, but does have the Yamaha YBS-62 bari sax, standard lacquer, that is used on recordings on occasion. His mouthpiece is a Berg Larson plastic mouthpiece with the included ligature and plays Rico Royal Plasticover #3 reeds.
Dave has a number of excellent recordings available. You can learn more about his music and listen to some of his most recent tracks on his website: www.DaveKoz.com.