Cory Wong is quickly becoming one of our favorite guitarists in the live music scene. A frequent collaborator of fan-favorite minimalist funk ensemble, Vulfpeck, Wong is known for his pristine and rhythmically oriented lead guitar style, animated performances, and charismatic onstage demeanor. Outside of Vulfpeck, the musician keeps himself busy with his work with Vulfpeck spin-off The Fearless Flyers, as well as his own solo career touring with the Cory Wong Band. In August, Wong released his sophomore solo album, The Optimist.

Recently, Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling saxophonist Dave Koz sat in with Vulfpeck at their two-night run at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, but his relationship with Cory Wong extends far beyond the surprise collaboration. Earlier this year, Wong set out on his pursuit of “The Koz Nod,” what he described in July’s “Social Experiment” video as “when Dave Koz gives you the nod.”

Since setting out on this new goal in pursuit of “The Koz Nod,” Wong has been growing closer to becoming, in his words, “the millennial ambassador of smooth jazz.” In a video he released in August in a further attempt to catch Koz’s attention, Wong showcased his deadpan leanings, offering up a throwback green screen-style video on what it takes to be successful in the wild world of smooth jazz [Spoiler Alert: it’s “a mustache, white pants, and gold jewelry”]. Cory Wong’s determination paid off when he finally got Koz to join him in the studio for a refreshed rendition of The Optimist‘s title track.

During that session, the duo also recorded a brand new tune Cory penned just 24 hours beforehand, “Friends At Sea”, affectionately named after Koz’s famed smooth jazz cruise, which Wong will join as a special guest this coming year. Cory Wong and Dave Koz’s upcoming double single, The Koz Nod—featuring both “Friends At Sea” and the revamped “The Optimist” take—will be released digitally this Friday, November 23rd. To commemorate this epic “win,” Wong has also pressed The Koz Nod onto a special edition run of 7″ records.

Today, Live For Live Music is excited to premiere Cory Wong and Dave Koz’s new collaboration, “Friends At Sea”, which marks Cory’s first new single since the release of The Optimist this past summer.

As Cory Wong explains to Live For Live Music,

Recording these songs with Dave is one of the highlights of my musical career, and a testament to the power of community and the internet. During every show I’ve done this past year, I’ve talked about how crazy it is that a guy (Dave Koz) has his own cruise that goes in different parts of the world every year, and sells out before he even announces who is going to be playing on it. He didn’t know when he was practicing his pentatonic scales in 6th grade that he’d be where he is today…or did he?! I’ve been trying to connect with Dave to play on his cruise and get out of Minnesota this winter.

Sure enough, after I put out my intentions, we had a bunch of mutual connections trying to get us to connect. Enough people online were trying to get Dave’s attention along with me and it really grabbed his attention. Finally, I got word from Dave and he said he was in.

He said he’d come out to Minneapolis and hang/record with me as long as he was in and out in one hour because he had family in MN that he wanted to spend time with. He also said it would be two days from then. So I wrote a song the next day and we were set to go in and record the day after!

I was really blown away with how ‘down’ Dave was with the whole thing. He has such a great vibe and was such a blast to hang and play with. Well…it happened. I’m going to Australia with Dave as a special guest on his next cruise. I couldn’t be more stoked! 

You can check out the Live For Live Music premiere of Cory Wong’s “Friends At Sea” featuring Dave Koz below. If you like what you hear, you can order The Koz Nod 7″ vinyl LP on Cory Wong’s website, with a limited run of 500 pressings available.

Cory Wong ft. Dave Koz – “Friends At Sea”

Check out a list of Cory Wong’s upcoming tour dates below.

Cory Wong Upcoming Tour Dates:

12/30 – Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle **
1/10 – Des Moines, IA – Vaudeville Mews *
1/11 – Kansas City, MO – The Record Bar *
1/12 – St. Louis, MO – Blueberry Hill Duck Room *
1/13 – Nashville, TN – 3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill *
1/15 – Louisville, KY – Zanzabar *
1/17 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues Cleveland *
1/18 – Benton Harbor, MI – The Livery *
1/19 – Ann Arbor, MI – The Blind Pig *
1/20 – Toronto, CAN – Legendary Horseshoe Tavern *
1/22 – Rochester, NY – Flour City Station *
1/24 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt *
1/25 – Albany, NY – The Hollow *
1/26 – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall *
1/27 – South Burlington, VT – Higher Ground Showcase *
1/29 – New York, NY – The Bowery Ballroom *
1/31 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery *
2/1 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry @ The Fillmore Philadelphia *
2/2 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Rex Theater *
2/4 – Columbus, OH – The A&R Music Bar *
2/5 – Bloomington, IN – The Bluebird *
2/7 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *
2/8 – Madison, WI – Majestic Theatre *
2/9 – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Cafe *
2/20 – Limerick, Ireland – Dolans Warehouse
2/21 – Cork, Ireland – Cyprus Avenue
2/22 – Galway, Ireland – Roisin Dubh
2/23 – Dublin, Ireland – The Sugar Club
2/26 – Glasgow, England – Oran Mor
2/27 – Leeds, England – Brudenell Social Club
2/28 – Manchester, England – Gorilla
3/1 – London, England – OMEARA
3/3 – City Of Bristol, England – The Fleece
3/24 – 3/31 – Sydney, AUS – Dave Koz & Friends At Sea
3/31 – 4/7 – Sydney, AUS – Dave Koz & Friends At Sea

** w/ Umphrey’s McGee
* w/ Emily Browning

View All Tour Dates