FORT WORTH -- Have a Merry Koz-mas and a jazzy New Year.
That was the pleasant, seasonal message delivered by the Dave Koz and Friends concert at Bass Hall on Wednesday -- a show that invited Santa to swing the beat just a little.
Koz, who is known for his smooth jazz saxophone stylings, was joined by pianist David Benoit, a four-piece band and singers Margo Rey and Javier Colon in a romp through Christmas favorites and a few of the headliner's hits. As is often the case with artists of this type, whose work sounds sterile spilling out of a spot on your FM dial, the concert showed Koz and cohorts to have more blood in their veins than their recorded works would suggest.
Their jazzed-up takes on the usual holiday suspects ( White Christmas, The Christmas Song, O Tannenbaum, etc.) were especially fun. Nearly all went over well, but none better than Linus and Lucy, the bouncy hit from Vince Guaraldi's legendary soundtrack for the Peanuts Christmas special which featured what amounted to musical sparring between Koz and Benoit.
Rey, who was introduced as "a native of the Dallas-Fort Worth area," showed off a lot of dresses and vocal styles, offering an eclectic set that ran from Silent Night to Over the Rainbow.
But the most startling star was Colon, who dazzled with a robust tenor that he could take up to near falsetto. All of his songs were stunners, especially his cover of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time -- a classic that helped him succeed on the talent program The Voice.
The players also took time for a brief, but sweetly touching, tribute to some of the musical greats to whom we have recently said goodbye, including Dave Brubeck, Marvin Hamlisch and Whitney Houston.
In addition to the excellent musicianship, the show was also well presented. A clever lighting plan and some holiday set trappings enhanced the overall effect of the entertaining set list.
The show might have been better if it had featured even more holiday tunes reinvented by Koz and Benoit. The non-Christmas numbers did not work as well as the carols.
But, on the whole, it was a refreshingly different evening of holiday music that glowed with warmth and talent.