Saxophonist Danny Kusz
Gig Seeker Pro

Saxophonist Danny Kusz

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Band Jazz Funk





“From the start of the emotionally powerful, melodically, rhythmically and sonically compelling SEXY.FUNK::VELVET.JAZZ through the end of its 13 tracks, two legendary names come across as clear cut influences on Danny Kusz as he breaks new ground in the urban jazz genre. Many performers have tapped into the rock/funk energy of Prince, and just about every new alto player came up listening to David Sanborn. But none have ever so artfully and majestically mixed the two with such a keen balance of grace and firepower. Rather than just cop their vibes, Kusz – working with producer and mastery synthesist and sonic architect Aaron Cosgrove – builds on the foundations they laid to forge a new path that is all at once in the pocket and accessible yet trippy and transcendent, not to mention young and hip. At the core of everything is the saxophonist’s fresh, catchy melodies and deep passionate expression. With the release of this extraordinary collection, the guy Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine calls “one of the hippest jazz cats in Minneapolis” will soon have that designation beyond his home base.” - Jonathan Widran


“How do you best describe a CD? Alto saxophonist Dan Kusz does it best, saying his sophomore effort reflects his Minneapolis roots, his love of old-school ‘80s and ‘90s smooth jazz, and his modern pop influences. I agree. SEXY.FUNK::VELVET.JAZZ is one fun musical ride, one that’ll keep you on your toes and scanning Kusz’s website for tour dates. True to its intent - here is the new face of smooth jazz, recognizing its past while bringing it on with the sound of today.
Kusz’s dive into old-school smooth jazz is realized in numerous songs, including the album’s first radio single, “Velvet.Love Girl” which begins with rapid, Nile Rodgers-like guitar chords and a sax sound culling Kusz’s obvious David Sanborn influences. And irresistible hook breaks free on the chorus, beefed up with layered sax and a goofy but fun breakdown. “Beatnik Boogie,” similarly, recalls classic smooth jazz with modern flourishes: Heavy percussion and a manic swirl of horns and guitar should make this a sweat-inducer during live performances.
Of course, old-school means slow school, too. The languid “When We First Met” brings soul to the foreground, with crazy-fun handclaps sneaking in and out of the speakers like you’ve never heard before. “Nice & Slow” is sexy-mellow, Kusz’s sax building to an exhilarating climax during the chorus. “Making You Hot” is a minor key number, its romantic ballad sound reminiscent of the best of fellow sax man Euge Groove. “Sax Voyage”, comes off like a Bruno Mars hit, but with Kusz’s sax taking the lead. Its bright, propulsive energy shows off his skill during a frantic breakdown that finally returns to the groove.” - Brian Soergel

"L.A. Music Awards"


Dan Kusz, has been chosen from thousands of bands internationally as award recipient for "Nu-Jazz Artist Of The Year, "Nu-Jazz Single Of The Year" in the 16th Annual International Los Angeles Music Awards. This is a huge honor for us as artists, and our community, and we hope your publication will support us in getting the word out!

You can find more information at the main website at We would love to interview for a feature article for your publication, to encourage other local bands to reach out to the Music Capital of the World, and gain some much deserved respect and exposure for other undiscovered talent in our local area!

We also want to encourage the LAMUSICONLINE.COM community to continue to reach out across the globe with ongoing showcases to give more opportunity to hard working bands like ourselves, and support of the local press will be greatly appreciated! We will be happy to provide any information, and make ourselves available for any potential interviews!

Looking forward to hearing from you!
- L.A. Music Awards

"Grand Marais Jazz Festival Review"

"The red hot fusion grooved of the Dan Kusz Band has the howlin wolf bar captivaed and cheering to the seering intensity of Dan's Saxophone"

"What a great sound and perfect compliment to the Grand Marais Jazz Festival"

"These guys are great"

"The Dan Kusz band with tight driving rhythems and sweet sax playing, added a smooth groove to the 2005 Grand Marais Jazz Fest." - Event planners, Grand Marais Jazz Festival president, WTIP Radio, Fans

"High Volume Music"

"I have had the chance to hear this kids demo over e-mail, and boy is this kid baaaaaaaaaaad! He is real funky. If you label people are reading this, you need to get in touch with this cat." - Anthony Frazier - Owner of HVM

" Review"

This Rising Star has been playing the saxophone since 3rd grade... He was about five-years-old when Smooth Jazz started as an official radio format. Feeling old yet? Don't, that's not where I'm going... I'm talking about the awesome potential of a new generation of Smooth Jazzers! Influenced by the still-young-in-their-own-right leaders of the genre... Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, Boney James, etc. Kusz (pronounced "cues") is a serious contender for the next match of new breed Smooth Jazz saxophonists. The wow factor is huge with regard to tonality, melody, confidence and style. Producer/keyboardist, Ricky Peterson (John Mayer, David Sanborn, Prince, Koz, Culbertson, and many more) was so taken by the young man, that he not only agreed to produce his debut LOST IN THE GROOVE, but signed Dan up for future recordings. The Minnesota native is on a roll with his new five song EP; 1500 people showed up for his CD Release party in June! Fond of the stage from an early age, D.K. (who shares initials with one of his biggest inspirations - Dave Koz) is so comfortable and charismatic in front of a crowd that his nickname has become "D" Koz. The exhilarating EP is jam packed with exceptional music: The hooky radio single, "Lost In The Groove," the chilled + driving, "I'm Feelin' You," the upbeat, acoustic-guitar oriented, "Summer," the in-the-pocket smooth sax piece, "Shady," and the beautiful, tender ballad, "I Wrote This For You." You go, D Kusz... We're here cheering you on! - Sandy Shore (President of


"20-year old compose/musician Kusz has already impressed industry figures from the Las Vegas strip to Texas with his original songs and dynamic stage presence. On the 3-track demo I haed, the reasons for this are obvious. Track 1 features a sort of passionate blowing that carved out a niche for Kenny G. Track 2 sounds nicely old-skool with that 80's and a real mellow funkiness. The tenor sax really smokes on track 3 - look out boney james is all I'll say. I dont know who plays in the band, and I dont know if Kusz wrote all the tunes, and I dont know if there was a big name producer behind the desk, and I dont care! If Dan Kusz comes to play near you I'd advise you to get there early and get yourself a good seat! - Chris Mann

"Smooth Jazz 100.3"

"Simply put, it was outstanding! VERY impressive. You are very special and clearly highly talented." - Bob Wood - Former program director

"Dan Kusz – Late Night Tribute to David Sanborn at the Dakota, April 10th"

Young saxophonist Dan Kusz knows how to create a firestorm on stage, and this Saturday night he’ll raise the roof with a tribute to David Sanborn at a “Late at the Dakota” gig. An eclectic performer, Kusz has appeared with blues artists Joe Juliano and Renee Austin, R&B acts like The New Congress, and mainstream jazzers Slide Hampton and Bruce Henry. For this special Sanborn night, Dan went to the top, bringing in Sanborn’s Music Director/keyboardist Ricky Peterson as a guest artist. His band also includes keyboardist Russ Keys, guitarist Deevo, bassist Ryan Butler, and percussionist Daryl Boudreaux.

Minnesota native Dan Kusz has been dubbed by Mpls/St Paul Magazine as one of the “Hippest Jazz Cats” in town. Like hero David Sanborn, Kusz has a style that crosses genres, particularly jazz, R&B and funk. In addition to Sanborn, he counts among his influences Dave Koz, Euge Groove, Maceo Parker, Everette Harp, Gerald Albright, and Ronny Loew. Dan started saxophone in third grade, and has been building steam ever since! Over his career he has opened for Stanley Jordan, performed at the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and Grand Marais Jazz Festival, and shared the stage with Renee Austin, Bruce Henry, Slide Hampton, Alicia Wiley, Dan Ristsrom, Ricky Peterson, Alex Rossi and more. His current projects include The Dan Kusz Band, Dan Ristrom & The Big Throwdown, Black Belt Jonezin, Root City Band and The Very People. Ricky Peterson produced Dan’s debut recording in 2006, Lost in the Groove.

David Sanborn is one of the most influential musicians of his generation, crossing the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, pop and jazz. The Tampa, FL native took up the saxophone as part of his rehabilitation after contracting polio at age 3. Growing up primarily in St. Louis, Sanborn absorbed the influences of touring Chicago blues artists. He started music studies at Northwestern but transferred to the University of Iowa, then moved to California where he spent five years with the Butterfield Blues Band, including their gig at Woodstock. When the band folded, he quickly found work with Stevie Wonder, did a brief stint with the Rolling Stones, and toured with David Bowie. He released his debut album in 1975, performed with Paul Simon and James Taylor, and by 1980 was finding success as a solo performer. His Voyeur won a Grammy in 1981, and his 1983 Backstreet was a big contemporary jazz hit. Another Grammy in 1986 (Double Vision) was followed by the debut of his acclaimed television show, Night Music, which featured such guests as Sonny Rollins, Leonard Cohen and the Pixies. Sanborn continues to tour and record, with his most recent CD, Only Everything, released earlier in 2010.

Of the influence of David Sanborn, Dan Kusz notes that he “has been such a big influence in my music - he was the first sax player that I ever listened to and I fell in love with his sound right away. While everyone kept telling me to listen to Parker and Coltrane, I just wanted to listen to Sanborn. Those other guys are amazing, but I just didn't relate to them as much. His music and playing had such an edge to it. I've always been more of a blues and R&B player and then I crossed over to jazz, which is very similar to Sanborn. He is also a very versatile musician, spanning the board when it comes to music he plays, which is something I do here in Minneapolis. I wanted to pay tribute to him because he is the reason why I'm still playing today and has been the biggest influence on my sound as a saxophonist.”

This gig might be starting late—11:30 pm—but anyone in the vicinity of the Dakota Saturday night will hear plenty of reasons to stay out on the town, and in the club, to catch this tribute to one of the icons of contemporary jazz, delivered by a young artist chasing the sound and spirit of David Sanborn. Dan Kusz and company will perform Late at the Dakota, April 10th, 11:30 pm – 1:30 am. - Andrea Canter -

"Hot Summer Jazz 2006"

"One of the hottest stars at the hot summer jazz fest this year"

"If there would have been a roof on the stage, you would have blown it away!"

"Once a hot commodity on the local scene, jazz/funk saxophonist Ronny Loew left five years ago—and now he’s back for a special appearance with the young king of smooth, soprano sax monster Dan Kusz. Kusz was popular act at the last Hot Summer Jazz Festival."

"Young smooth sax artist Dan Kusz drew one of the biggest crowds of the 2006 festival, and in partnership with Ronny Loew, Peavey Plaza hosts two young guys who have redefined smooth jazz in Minnesota."

"If you missed Dan’s soul-splitting set on Peavy Plaza during the Hot Summer Jazz Festival in 2006, or if you were there and eager for more, this weekend presents a great opportunity to hear the best of local funky grooves in a very cool setting. What more do you need for a respite from this very hot weekend?" - Andrea Canter -

"Dakota Jazz Club Review"

CD Release “Lost In the Groove” (Produced by Ricky Peterson)
Funky, contemporary, soulful Dave Koz & David Sandborn influenced sax from a young player with talent to burn. - Dakota Jazz Club

"CoffeeTalk Jazz Network"

Thrilled and excited about the young dynamic seasoned musician. I had the pleasure of meeting Danny at the 2015 NAMM show through CoffeeTalk Jazz Magazine's media Partner Kathryn Ballard Shut/CEO for Tim Kat Entertainment. Danny's current CD Sexy.Funk.Velvet Jazz offers a variety of sub genres of music. Perhaps the most inventive and even experimental is touch of jazz fusion, blending together elements of R&B, and what I'd like to call a bit of psychedelic jazz. It's all in there. Danny is bold in experimenting with sound and the variety of styles that are infused on his project. He's created music on his own terms and we here at CoffeeTalk JAZZ Magazine love it all. Congratulations on a job well done.

- Ms. Bridgette Y Lewis, President of CoffeeTalk Jazz Radio and Magazine. - Bridgette Lewis, President, CoffeeTalk Jazz Network

"Album Review"

Sexy, fresh, edgy, distinct and lively. Let me just say the, colors, the cover and brand image grabbed me first, it made me want to listen and what I heard was absolutely brilliant. This entire cd SEXY.FUNK:: VELVET JAZZ by Danny Kusz is musically addictive, diverse and colorful. Danny 's multi-faceted artful approach keeps you intrigued through each track and you can not wait for the next one. I had many favorites.. "Sexy Sax M.F." made me want to bust a move with its spellbound bass groove, hip synthesized vibe and jamming sax melody. A real party to your ears! Kusz talks emotionally through his sax delivering a musical explanation of "Life" in song and the crackles and pops, like an old LP was very creative. "Making You Hot" starts off with an elegant acoustic guitar intro and keeps it really attractive with a lead sax melody. "Perfect Score" was a mesh of deep alto melodic perfection. Exquisite work Danny.

Melody Warren - The JAZZ in M.E.E. - The Jazz In M.E.E.

"Album Review"

O.k. so I discovered this latest recording from Minneapolis saxophonist Danny Kusz (aka Dan Kusz) a bit late as this smoker was released back in March of this year. Still, as I’m sure many will agree, we smooth and contemporary jazzers can never get enough of good, solid, feel-it-to-your-toes funky jams in the contemporary jazz vein, and I would never have allowed this one to not make its way onto our Reviews page.

Hot, smoky, sexy, and full of unbridled passion for the music it exudes,Sexy.Funk :: Velvet.Jazz is what we all wait for with any release – something that starts a fire and keeps it burnin’.

From the jammin’ lead and second tracks, respectively “Sexy Sax M.F.” (interesting title) and “Velvet.Love Girl,” and charging right through with such stompers as “Sax Voyage ” and “Sexy.Funk,” pausing along the way long enough to throw in that slow drippin’ sexy track like “Life,” “Makin’ You Hot,” and mid-tempo cool grooves like “Incredible” and “Magical Love Song,” Kusz is totally bent on taking you to Groovetown on a express mode of transportation. Word to the wise: Don’t leave your hanky far behind on this trip. Your brow will need it. This saxman has brought everything he could possibly have on this funk-tight, occasionally electronica-tinged project.

First popping up on my radar a few years back with his 5-track EP Lost In the Groove, Kusz was obviously just warming us up for this white-hot jamster. This is what is meant by pouring your soul into an album. You simply can’t help being moved by its energy, its vibrancy, and its soul.

It is this kind of effort that keeps that spark alive in aspiring musicians and lifts the spirits and optimism of all who truly enjoy the artistry and fun of smooth jazz.

– Ronald Jackson - The Smooth Jazz Ride





Danny Kusz named one of the hippest jazz cats in Minneapolis by Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine while in his early 20s, had the good fortune of recording his debut EP Lost In The Groove with renowned Twin Cities keyboardist Ricky Peterson, best known as David Sanborns musical director for 30 years. The project scored some local airplay and earned the multi-talented horn player numerous accolades, including two L.A. Music Award wins for Best Jazz Single and Best Nu-Jazz Artist, and several Minnesota Music Awards nominations including Best Horn Player, Jazz Recording of the Year and Jazz Group/Artist of the Year.

Despite his initial success, and a slate of headlining gigs and festival performances to support it, Kusz ultimately stepped aside for a few years. While working steadily as a sideman with some of the top musicians in the region, he began developing a fresh sound that stood apart not only from the vibe of his first album, but other indie urban jazz up and comers as well. Creating an explosive hybrid of his major alto influence, David Sanborn and his favorite funk-rocker, Minneapolis own legendary Prince, Kusz worked with an outside producer (Aaron Cosgrove, frontman for the longtime pop/R&B/rock band The New Congress) for the first time to create a dynamic new vibe captured by the 13-track albums provocative title SEXY.FUNK::VELVET.JAZZ. Kusz had performed live over the years with The New Congress many times, and felt that Cosgrove and the groups keyboardist Russ King were the perfect sonic architects to help bring his vision of a fresh, youthful approach to urban jazz/funk to life.   

Kusz, whose versatility has led him to perform with everyone from Eric Leeds and Joey DeFrancesco to Root City, and Marcus Millers saxman Alex Han, felt that Cosgrove has always been a musical genius when it came to writing and production and I wanted to collaborate with him to create a different sound that would stand out. The saxophonist, whose powerful alto is the emotional centerpiece of each song, enjoyed the process of writing the melodies to the groove tracks and synth parts that Cosgrove sent him. He took me out of my comfort zone and helped me open my mind to work with unique sounds that inspired me to dig deeper as a player and composer, he says. I love the way it came out, and the title really captures all the elements that make it so much fun to work on and now listen to. Im looking forward to getting out there and playing gigs under my own name again. Nothing tops being onstage performing for people who have come to hear your music live.  

Growing up in the Twin Cities area where he was able to watch some of the top performers in jazz and funk, Kusz realized early what it takes to put on a great live show that can move crowds to become a part of the experience. Kuszs energetic stage presence and interaction with his close nit band shows how fun and funky it can get when theres a collective passion to entertain. Full of positive energy and a great sense of style, Kusz and his band love to connect with fans and often times youll find him out in the crowd or maybe even on top of a table all the while looking sharp in a three piece suit! 

Kuszs initial popularity after the release of Lost In The Groove led to several prominent festival dates, opening for and performing with several well known artists and has headlined numerous gigs of his own around town, and played frequently with top local artists like the Root City Band, who had a multi-year residency at the popular restaurant and bar Glueks. Kusz opened for guitar great Stanley Jordan and performed several Michael Jackson tribute concerts with Stokley Williams from Mint Condition. In addition to Jordan, he has opened for national artists such as Greg Adams, Slide Hampton, Morris Day & The Time and Anthony David.


The MN Zoo Concert Series - Apple Valley, MN w/ Robert Randolph & The Family Band
The Catalina Jazz Club – Los Angeles, CA
Jazz At Jacks – Denver, CO
The J-Spot Jazz TV Show – Houston, TX w/ Bobby Lyle
The Selby Jazz Festival – Saint Paul, MN (Co-headliner w/Harvey Mason)
Spaghettini's – Seal Beach, CA
Cafe Cordiale – Sherman Oaks, CA
Riviera Resort – Palm Springs, CA w/ Will Donato
Hyatt Resort – Palm Springs, CA w/ Will Donato
Burnsville Jazz Festival in Burnsville, MN
Grand Marais Jazz Festival – Grand Marais, MN
Jazz 88.5 Winter Jazz Fest – Saint Paul, MN
Rossi's Blue Star Room - Minneapolis, MN
The Hot Summer Jazz Festival - Minneapolis, MN (Headliner)
The Dakota Jazz Club - Minneapolis, MN
Art & All That Jazz Festival - Burnsville, MN
Little Apple Jazz Festival - Manhattan, KS (Headliner)

Band Members