On Stage: Hot horns, comedy at Xcite Center

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Summer Horns 2023

If you visit Parx Casino (2999 Street Road, Bensalem, https://parxcasino.com) this weekend, there is a sure way to be a winner.

All you need do is head to The Xcite Center at Parx Casino to attend a show on Friday or Saturday night.

On August 11, the venue will host “Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns 2023.” On August 12, it will be an evening of stand-up comedy delivered by Marlon Wayans.

Dave Koz & Friends’ Summer Horns 2023 tour launched on June 30 at The Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida. The GRAMMY®-nominated, chart-topping saxophonist is teaming up with two other sax greats – Candy Dulfer and Eric Darius – for the run. Acclaimed vocalist Maysa will join the powerhouse lineup for 10 shows, including the concert in Bensalem.

“This is the sixth time I’ve done a Summer Horns Tour,” said Koz, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from New York.

“I just got back to New York today after spending the last couple weeks in Germany. I did a two-week river cruise with Rick Braun on his tour down the Rhine River. It was the first time I’d ever been on a river cruise. It was a great trip.

Koz has done a “Summer Horns Tour” in 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2023.

His tours come in many different formats and are presented at a wide variety of venues.

Prior to the 2013 “Summer Horns Tour,” Koz visited the Philly area with an assortment of different shows and an array of guest performers such as Bebe Winans, Sheila E and Jonathan Butler.

On August 22, 2013, the veteran smooth jazz saxophonist brought his “Dave Koz and Friends Summer Horns Tour 2013” to Philadelphia for a show at the Dell Music Center in Fairmount Park. The concert featured an all-star lineup of saxophonists — Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot and, of course, Koz himself. The foursome released an album titled “Summer Horns” in June 2013.

“I came up with the concept the previous summer,” said Koz. “Paul Brown, the producer, quarterbacked the project. We recorded a bunch of songs over a six-week period in January and finally whittled it down to 11.

“I think it’s the greatest album I ever made. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with all these great jazz musicians was great. It was healthy competition — and some of the best playing I’ve ever done.”

This time, there are three all-star jazz sax players onstage together – Koz, Dulfer and Darius.

“Candy is a great sax player – and a great vocalist,” said Koz. “She’s really popular in Europe and also in Asia. So, she doesn’t tour in the states that much. Eric – I watched him grow up and he’s 40 now.”

Dulfer rose to fame with high-profile collaborations with Dave Stewart (the worldwide No. 1 smash “Lily Was Here”) and the legendary Prince, whose tongue-in-cheek recommendation (“When I want sax, I call Candy”) in the “Partyman” video made the world sit up and notice the talented sax player at his side.

Their collaboration continued over the years with many studio sessions, TV show appearances, award show performances (including the GRAMMY Awards®) and global concert tours. Candy joined Prince’s NPG band as a permanent member for his record-shattering Musicology tour and album.

Her first solo album, “Saxuality,” earned her a GRAMMY Award nomination. The combined world-wide sales of her solo albums top 2.5 million copies, and she has had several No. 1 hits in the U.S. Duler’s new album, “We Never Stop,” includes the hit, “Jammin’ Tonight.”

Dulfer has been fortunate to work – both in the studio and on stage – with some of the biggest names in music, including Van Morrison, Maceo Parker, Sheila E., Mavis Staples, Lionel Richie, Beyoncé, Pink Floyd, Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin and many others.

Darius, internationally known as an elite Jazz/R&B/Pop saxophonist, songwriter, producer and performer, recently dropped “L.O.V.E.” Feat. Brian Culbertson, the third single from his seventh studio album, “Breakin’ Thru,” which debuted at #2 on the iTunes Top 40 Jazz Albums Chart.

This project is an extra special milestone for Darius as it is his first release via his own independent label, SagiDarius Music. The title track and debut single for “Breakin’ Thru” has been a staple on Contemporary Jazz radio, reaching #1 on the Mediabase Smooth Jazz chart, as well as his second single,”Dare 2 Dream.”

“Breakin’ Thru” features 10 original songs with co-production by Darius, Rodney Jones, Jr. (Chris Brown, Mary Mary, Mary J. Blige) and Butta N’ Bizkit (John Legend, Ne-Yo, Miguel, Ledisi).

Maysa is blessed with an instantly identifiable honey-toned mezzo-soprano and an undeniably brilliant and magnetic stage presence. Having collaborated with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Incognito, Angela Bofill, Will Downing, Jonathan Butler, Phil Perry and more, Maysa can hang with the best.

She has been the recipient of many awards for her work, including Soul Train’s first Centric Award in 2009, and her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance for her remake of Nancy Wilson’s “Quiet Fire” in 2014.

The Baltimore native is the owner/founder of her own record label, Blue Velvet Soul Records. To celebrate her first record printing, Maysa designed a commemorative blue velvet box set with four singles – “You Are Not Alone,” “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” “Lovin’ You Is Easy” and “Soft Words” – as an EP called “The Fab First Four” in January of 2021. Maysa recently released her 14th solo studio album, “Music For Your Soul.”

Obviously, there will be a lot of talent onstage at The Excite Center.

“It’s a fun show full of saxophones,” said Koz. “I grew up loving sax. I even played in the sax section of a big band.”

Koz attended William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, performing on saxophone as a member of the school jazz band. He later graduated from UCLA with a degree in mass communications in 1986, and only weeks after his graduation, decided to make a go of becoming a professional musician.

Within weeks of that decision, he was recruited as a touring member of singer Bobby Caldwell’s (“What You Won’t Do For Love”) band. It was during this time that Koz befriended keyboardist Jeff Lorber, who invited Koz to play on one of his tours. That stint was followed by a 14-month tour with pop singer Richard Marx.

In 2007, Koz released two chart-topping collections of standards. “At the Movies,” his lush, romantic celebration of timeless melodies from cinema, spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz chart. Produced by the legendary Phil Ramone, it was nominated for a GRAMMY® in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category. “Memories of a Winter’s Night,” a festive collection of holiday standards, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Jazz chart in December 2007.

Koz has collaborated with many artists over the years, including Burt Bacharach, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, Valerie Simpson, Gloria Estefan, Luther Vandross, Shelby Lynne, Kenny Loggins, U2, Michael McDonald, Rod Stewart and The Foo Fighters.

He also hosts two radio programs: The Dave Koz Radio Show and The Dave Koz Lounge, which appears on SiriusXM Watercolors and airs nationally every Sunday. Koz completed a four-year term on the GRAMMY® Foundation Artists Committee and has served as National Trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS).

Koz has released more than 20 albums since his eponymous debut album in 1990. His most recent albums – both of which came out in 2021 — were “A Romantic Night In (The Love Songs Album)” and “The Golden Hour,” which was recorded with Cory Wong.

“My most recent project is a Disney EP, and the first single will be out in the fall,” said Koz. “I always loved Disney music. The first three songs in this project are from different eras. The first single – ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ – is from the original era. The second – ‘Reflection” from ‘Mulan’ — is from the 90s. The third is from the 2020s – ‘Encanto.’

“The project really started with my love of Disney and animation. I’ve been working with a Finnish animator JonesAndYou, who is from Helsinki. I wanted to parlay music and my love of Disney. It’s nice to be able to complement music with animation and visuals.”

JonesAndYou/Koz music video — https://youtu.be/bUctw5AU52s.

Koz always has several irons in the fire.

“I did music for an EP last fall,” said Koz. “We’re sitting on it because we had another single released earlier this year – ‘Wrapped Up in Your Smile.’ It’s from my Christmas album in 2022 but it’s not specifically timed to Christmas. It’s a big ballad that was a Top 10 radio hit.

“I’m not sure about making a new album. I don’t want to regurgitate music just to release an album. Playlists have changed so much. I think releasing singles seems to be working.”

Video link for Dave Koz — https://youtu.be/xCJSRjNoWQ0.

The show at The Excite Center on August 11 will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $35-$75.

Marlon Wayans

On Saturday night, the stage at The Excite Center will belong to Marlon Wayans with his “Microphone Fiend Tour.”.

Wayans is an actor, producer, comedian, writer and film director. His films have grossed more than $736 million in domestic box office and $1 billion in global box office. As a standup comedian, he is selling out nationwide and adding shows every weekend; his newest stand-up special, “God Loves Me,” premiered on HBO Max in March 2023.

Wayans can most recently be seen on the big screen in Ben Affleck’s Nike drama, “Air,” for Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports and Mandalay Pictures. His film, “The Curse of Bridge Hollow,” which he produced and starred in, debuted at #1 on Netflix this past fall.
Wayans is commonly recognized for his role as ‘Marcus Copeland’ in Columbia Pictures’ 2004 hit comedy, “White Chicks,” opposite Shawn Wayans, Jamie King and Terry Crews. He also starred alongside Shawn Wayans and Regina Hall in Dimension Films’ horror comedy spoof films, “Scary Movie” and “Scary Movie 2.”

Additionally, Wayans starred with his brother Shawn Wayans on The WB’s “The Wayans Bros.,” which was the highest rated comedy on the network and continues to air in syndication. He has appeared on several popular television programs, including Fox’s “In Living Color,” Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital,” and BET’s “Second Generation Wayans.”

Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, Wayans isn’t able to discuss his past, present or future TV and film projects. But he can talk about doing standup – and he loves doing standup.

“The layoff is a blessing for me – an opportunity to get better at something,” said Wayans, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a vacation break in North Carolina. “I can continue to grow as an act.

“I didn’t really have a break during COVID. I was still doing outside shows. I just continue to do what I do – making people laugh and forget their troubles.”

Wayans has comedic talents in his DNA.

The Wayans family is an American show business family. Family members include Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans Sr., Kim Wayans, Damon Wayans Jr., Damien Dante Wayans, and Chaunté Wayans.

“Family gatherings are fun,” said Wayans. “Life is funny. It all goes in shifts. Sometimes, I’m closer to one family member. Sometimes, I’m closer to another one. I can’t say that I have a favorite.

“I just like to be funny. We all like to be funny. My first solo standup show? It was probably about eight years ago when I went out on my own.

“At first, it was difficult – trying to find your voice – finding which wells to pull from. It’s like layers of an onion. You start with politics and then peel off another layer. Eventually, it’s about you. It’s always about fun.

“I sit in the pocket better. I’m a better storyteller. I like being a quarterback that sits in the pocket and scrambles if I have to.

“Right now, I’m working toward a special. Every night, I try something new. I never stick to the script. I’m not doing pop culture. I speak about me. That’s how it stays fresh.”

Video link for Marlon Wayans — https://youtu.be/Xfm1xrB9Lq4.

The show at The Excite Center on August 12 will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $35-$75.

Other upcoming shows at The Xcite Center at Parx Casino are Melissa Etheridge & Elle King on August 17, En Vogue on August 19 and Wayne Newton on August 26.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) continues its tradition of presenting top quality blues music this weekend.

Area music fans know that Jamey’s House of Music is a primo spot to hear folk, jazz and blues music every Thursday through Sunday.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” and the “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” are regular features on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

Headline acts are featured on Fridays and Saturdays.

On August 11, Jamey’s will host a concert by John Flynn.

Flynn is an American singer-songwriter and activist known for his powerful music and tireless efforts on behalf of the lost and the lonely, the shackled and scarred.

His career has embodied an authentic troubadour odyssey that moved legendary folk DJ Gene Shay to call Flynn “the most quintessential folk singer in my life”, and Deana McCloud, Executive Director of the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma to write, “John Flynn is the real deal.

His work follows in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Kris Kristofferson, and other social justice troubadours as he speaks the truth and gives a voice to society’s disenfranchised. His work fills your heart and opens your eyes as he continues to walk the walk of a true advocate for equality, justice, and peace.”

Long-time friend and Flynn champion, Kris Kristofferson has called John “an important artist whose work in prisons, rehabs, and half-way houses is distilled into the truth and the beauty of heartfelt and heartwarming slices of life”. In 2007 Kris cited Flynn to TV Guide Magazine as one of his favorite country artists, saying, “He’s got a great heart and I like the way he thinks”.

On his website (http://johnflynn.net/), Flynn posted this message – “Just a quick note to let you know I’ve got a couple appearances I’m really looking forward to coming up this week. On Thursday, August 10th I’ll be in Orlando, FL for the opening of the 21st biennial national convention of Vietnam Veterans of America. The following evening I’ll be doing a show closer to home at my new favorite venue, Jamey’s House of Music in Lansdowne, PA.

Other upcoming gigs include my annual concert for the kids at Camp Dreamcatcher, a therapeutic summer camp for kids dealing with AIDS/HIV (http://Campdreamcatcher.org), and a performance at the annual gala for the Delaware Innocence Mission (https://www.innocencede.org/).

The show on August 11 will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

August 12 will be an “Open Mic Night” featuring free admission. Showtime is 7 p.m.

Jamey’s features a popular “Jazz at Jamey’s” on Thursday featuring many of the best singers in the region performing a set from 7-8 p.m. with the backing of the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

This week’s guest singer is Carolina Santos.

Santos is an Argentine/Brazilian Jazz and World Music Singer who started her career in music at an early age, thanks to her musician parents.

She graduated with a BA in Vocal Jazz from Music College TAMABA, in Buenos Aires Argentina. Awarded with a merit scholarship, she represented the institute at CLAEM (Conference of Latin America´s Music Schools), where she won another scholarship to study at UNPHU, Dominican Republic for her last semester.

Santos has been traveling to New York for the last six years, taking private lessons and workshops in Voice, Improvisation, Composition and Arrangement with top singers and instrumentalists of the NY Jazz Scene.

She leads her soloist Project where she incorporates Brazilian and South American Rhythms to her Jazz Repertoire, with arrangements of her own that unifies everything with a modern sound. For the last two years she has been touring countries like Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Dominican Republic.

The Dave Reiter Trio lays down the backing for some out of this world jazz to happen, and you never know who might show up to join in. Reiter is a long-time jazz pro and is equally at home on the seven-string guitar, Nord keyboard or the venue’s top of the line Hammond organ setup. Bill Marconi is on drums; his name is known to jazz aficionados around the world. Holding down the bottom is first-call Philly bassist, George Livanos.

Doors open at 6 p.m. on August 10. Santos will perform from 7-8 p.m. followed by an “Open Mic Jazz Jam” from 8-10 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge.

The “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” is scheduled for every Sunday from noon-3 p.m. with the host band’s set from noon-1 p.m. followed by an open mic from 1-3 p.m.

The first, third, fourth and fifth Sunday sessions are hosted by the Philly Blues Kings while the hosts for second Sunday sessions are the Girke-Davis Project.

“The Sound of Music” features many great songs and this month you can hear them performed in a live setting.

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now through August 27, the Candlelight Dinner Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) will be presenting its latest offering of the 2022-2023 season  – “The Sound of Music.”

When it comes to sheer volume of songs that have lodged in everyone’s subconscious, no show can come close to “The Sound of Music.”

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t recognize at least one of these songs — “The Sound of Music,” “Maria,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss,” and “So Long, Farewell”?

The Candlelight Dinner Theater’s production of “The Sound of Music” runs through the last Sunday of the month. The show stars Sophie Jones as Maria Rainer and Paul McElwee as Captain Georg von Trapp.

“The Sound of Music” is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It is based on the 1949 memoir of Maria von Trapp, “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.”

Set in Austria on the eve of the Anschluss in 1938, the musical tells the story of Maria, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children, and eventually their widowed father, Captain von Trapp.

He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide on a plan to flee Austria with the children.

The original Broadway production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened in 1959 and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The first London production opened at the Palace Theatre in 1961. The show has enjoyed numerous productions and revivals since then. It was adapted as a 1965 film musical starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Performances of “The Sound of Music” are scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and the show, are $69 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

This month, the theater is also hosting “Candlelight Quizzo” on August 21 at 6:30 p.m. and “Candlelight Comedy Club” on August 17 at 7:30 p.m. featuring Sheba Mason with Allan Fuks and Joe Murdock.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) will present “Sir Paul: A Dedication to Paul McCartney” on August 12.

“Sir Paul” is led by the soaring vocals of Mike Green. The multi-talented Green propels an incredible band through authentic, moving and energetic renditions of an expansive catalog of McCartney classics.

The show on Saturday night will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35, $40 and $45.

On August 11, Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is presenting “An Evening with Jeffrey Gaines.” Tickets for the show, which starts at 8 p.m., are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.

The venue will have an “Open Mic Night” on August 13. The show will start at 7 p.m. and admission is $5.

The Eagleview Summer Concerts on the Square at Eagleview Town Center (Wharton Boulevard, Exton, www.ineagleview.com) will present Miko Marks with special guest Brittany Ann Tranbaugh on August 15 and Mellow Fever on August 29.

Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts (9 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, brynmawrtwilightconcerts.com) will host Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience on August 12, Susan Werner on August 19, Dar Williams on August 26, Carsie Blanton & Marielle Kraft on September and Jon McLaughlin on September 8.

King Of Prussia’s live outdoor music series Concerts Under the Stars (Upper Merion Township Building Park, West Valley Forge Road, King of Prussia, concertsunderthestarskop.com) has Donna the Buffalo on August 12, Start Making Sense (Talking Heads tribute), Al Stewart & The Empty Pockets on August 26, Splintered Sunlight (Grateful Dead Tribute) on September 2, and Easy Star All‐Stars on September 16.

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