Danny Kusz is an explosive and energetic Minneapolis based saxophonist blending Jazz, Soul, Blues and Rock N’ Roll. It’s an intense, one-of-a-kind sound which pushes the boundaries of Contemporary Jazz. Influenced by local Pop-Rocker Prince and legendary saxophonist David Sanborn, Danny delivers a bold, innovative look and big sound which has caught the attention of the world. His stage presence is explosive and his energy is unmatched which has placed him on stage with some of the biggest names and top venues in jazz. His latest release Eruption topped the jazz charts and has had global airplay.
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Kusz tries to broaden his reach and grow exponentially with
each release. In 2014 he dropped, Sex, Funk, Velvet Jazz. By
that time he says he had very much established who he wanted
to be musically. Not so much a few years earlier when he
released Lost in the Groove in 2007. He says he experienced
a lot of growth and maturity during the years between the two
projects. With Lost in the Groove he said he was single, coming
out of a bad relationship and struggling financially. But, oh what
a difference seven years can make. By the time he released
Sex, Funk, Velvet Jazz he had not only grown up, but he also
had a wife and a full-time career, (outside the music industry).
He credits his job and his wife with “turning my shit around.”
He says, “Behind every successful man is a very supportive
and equally successful woman.” That said, Kusz says it takes
more than just good music to have a successful project.
My opinion of the industry these days is it’s just as much
about marketing as it is talent. A mediocre player may
stand a better chance than a killer player.”
Kusz knows from killer players. He loves legendary sax man Maceo Parker, as well as Candy Dulfer and Everette Harp. In his youth he went through phases of listening to and studying some of the best musicians in the business. Growing up he put his ears on blues
guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. “I love blues. I grew up playing blues.” He confirms, “I was much more of a blues and R&B guy before I
started playing jazz.” That explains the vibe he feels for vocalists such as Vaughn, Tyrone Davis and Keith Sweat. But, he also listened to rock guitarist Joe Satriani and smooth jazz sax players Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum and Dave Koz to name a few. He was into Green Day for a while and even the 90s grunge, rap and hip-hop, The Eagles, Talking Heads and Phil Collins. He also was inspired by local musicians, such as guitarist, Alex Rossi, who Kusz met at a blues jam when they were teens and the now defunct
powerhouse band The New Congress. The band’s former keyboardist, Russ King, works with Kusz and travels with him for gigs. Kusz sees all of them as dominant forces in his music, “I feel like all this was influential in my music career. I think it was like all of that together that created my sound.” Of course, being from the Twin Cities area, it would be something akin to sacrilege if he weren’t a Prince fan. “I’m a huge Prince
fanatic. I love that he pioneered a sound, the Minneapolis sound.
To say that you pioneered a sound is epic.” He marvels at The
Purple One’s stage presence, fashion sense, sound…all that.
“I love everything about him and his brand.” He says pretty much
the same about Justin Timberlake, “He only puts out great music.”
Kusz went on to say, “He puts a lot of thought into his music and
what he puts out. I love his music and his brand.”