Other than a Christmas album and a greatest-hits collection, we haven't heard anything new from contemporary jazz saxophonist Dave Koz since his successful 2007 date At the Movies (though recording somewhat infrequently has been a Koz trademark). Hello Tomorrow, his first date for Concord, is not only full of new tunes in a diverse array, but hosts an impressive cast of band and guest players, as well. Produced by John Burk and Marcus Miller, the set kicks off with the euphoric jazz-funk groover "Put the Top Down," featuring Lee Ritenour on lead guitar, Ray Parker, Jr. on rhythm, Brian Culbertson handling the synths and programming, Omar Hakim on drums, Sheila E. on percussion, and a three-piece horn section adding to Koz's alto. It's followed by the lithe, nocturnal, sensual funk that is "When Will I Know for Sure," with Boney James playing tenor in concert with Koz. "Getaway," with its breezy pop Caribbean sheen, features Jonathan Butler and Sheila E. duetting; Butler handles the guitar chores as well. Koz provides a serviceable vocal on a cover of "This Guy's in Love with You," with the tune's original hitmaker Herb Alpert guesting on trumpet; the latter's version wins, hands down. Jeff Lorber helps out on two solid cuts here in "Anything's Possible" and what is sure to be a format smash in "Remember Where You Come From" that also includes the four-piece horn section. There's an uncharacteristic contemporary jazz-blues in "There's a Better Way," with Keb' Mo' on vocals and acoustic guitar; he also appears on the uplifting, 21st century take on jazzy Big Easy R&B in "Think Big," with Christian Scott laying the N.O. tradition on thick with his trumpet. Why two small group ballads were chosen to close the set is questionable, but the brief "What You Leave Behind" is a nice outro. Given how seamlessly the rest of this fits together, Hello Tomorrow is no doubt one of the most ambitious recordings in Koz's catalog.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek