Benoit, though, did join Koz, White and Braun as a member of the core band that recorded the new Koz album, “Christmas Ballads,” which serves as a companion to the anniversary tour.
Koz already had released seven previous holiday albums, so deciding on a direction for the music became a key piece of the puzzle for “Christmas Ballads.” Working with producer Philippe Saisse, they arrived at a theme.
“We came up with the idea of it’s like the time of the day when you would listen to an album like this,” Koz said. “So the specific moment that we had in mind when we recorded it was that feeling of after your guests have left. The party is over. You’ve put away the dishes. It’s the week before Christmas. You’ve got the fireplace going. You have a nice beverage in your hand, maybe somebody special there to share it with. What does that feel like musically? That’s why we decided to do all ballads and to reflect that warm moment that’s very specific in the holidays. And I think we got it.”
Another hurdle was choosing songs Koz had not previously recorded that fit the mood of the “Christmas Ballads” album.
But Koz found several holiday classics to record, including “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” “Away in a Manger/Silent Night” and “Merry Christmas Darling,” all of which are performed in Koz’s silky smooth jazz form, but with some creative arrangements and tasteful spotlight moments for solos from Koz, Benoit, Braun and White. There are also some less obvious song choices, including John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” coupled with “Imagine” (with Jade providing vocals on the latter song), and “Petit Papa Noël,” a song plucked from the 1946 French film “Destins.”
“Christmas Ballads” figures to be another successful album for Koz, who is firmly established as one of smooth jazz’s biggest stars. In a career that began with the release of his self-titled debut album in 1990, Koz has gone on to notch 11 No. 1 albums on Billboard magazine’s Current Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and nine Grammy nominations.
For now, Koz and his guests will celebrate 25 years of his Christmas tour, covering plenty of musical ground in each show.
“We will be doing a segment within the show that highlights the new music from ‘Christmas Ballads,’” Koz said. “Of course, you want to inject new and novel things into the show and there will be that. But one thing I’ve learned over the many years of doing this is our fans and people who come to the show, they want to hear the things that they know and they love, the integral things that are hallmarks of our shows. So you know there’s going to be a Hanukkah segment. You know there are going to be a lot of collaborative moments where all of the artists are on stage. And then each artist will get a chance to do their own music. These are things that have been part of our show for a long time, so they will be back, especially for the 25th anniversary.”
Dave Koz and Friends
8 p.m. Nov. 25. $47-$100. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 770-916-2852, cobbenergycentre.com.