Music cruises are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and jazz cruises are among the most successful and popular of all.
Telling Their Stories It's a musical cliché to say you are "telling your story" when you improvise, but in fact you are expressing almost everything you have learned about playing music when you create a musical solo. We saw plenty of that, but we also heard these musicians telling their real life stories, oratory style, in onstage interviews like "Meet the saxophones" or "Keeping up with the bassists."
One of the most compelling stories was from host Wayman Tisdale. He had been a professional basketball player and top draft pick with the Phoenix Suns. But his additional love was always music, and he plays bass. Wayman ended his basketball career early when he developed cancer in his leg; between the 2008 and 2009 smooth jazz cruises, and he had to have his leg amputated. For a professional athlete this was a stunning blow, but incredibly he still had a smile that could light up a room.
Wayman told his story on stage with his bass-playing hero, Marcus Miller. Marcus is a very accomplished bassist who probably played on a good number of albums in your collection. He started as a teenager doing sessions in New York City and played in the NBC Saturday Night Live band with saxist David Sanborn. He played on albums for Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross and -- his biggest challenge ever -- for the musical genius Miles Davis.
Listening to all of the players tell their personal stories was the most gratifying aspect of this cruise. They all had one thing in common: humility. Not one of them failed to honor a higher power, and their spouses, for their luck in making a career out of music. Each of them also noted the influence and guidance they had received from some of the elder statesmen on the cruise, such as saxophonist Gerald Albright.
Albright himself gave a sensational concert where he played a 10-minute John Coltrane solo note-for-note. Albright could play almost anything on the sax, from yackety-yak to sweet soprano notes he could stretch for at least a minute with his circular breathing. He told us his story also, and like so many others in the group, he grew up in a preacher's home.
A Day to Remember I have to mention the special feelings we had during this cruise on January 20, 2009. It was inauguration day for Barack Obama, and with entertainers and guests onboard of all backgrounds and colors, it was a day to celebrate diversity no matter what your politics.
The Obama tee-shirts, hats, jackets, pins and scarves were everywhere. The ceremony was displayed on the big screen and there were few dry eyes in the house. That night, the entertainment was a special celebration by a group of performers who had put together a patriotic and spiritual show.
Jazz Cruises for 2010 There are more jazz cruises coming up despite the enduringly tough economy. The 2010 smooth jazz cruise (hosted by Dave Koz) was already sold out by the last day of the 2009 cruise, although there is a waitlist. The fill the need for more smooth jazz, the producers JazzCruisesLLC have a special two-weeks of smooth jazz cruises back to back in 2011. The first week is hosted by Wayman Tisdale and the second week is hosted by Dave Koz.
You can't do this without the talent to back it up, and needless to say, they have it. The line up for 2010 includes:
Dave Koz Gerald Albright Alonzo Bodden Rick Braun Tom Braxton Jonathan Butler Eric Darius Andre Delano Richard Elliot Jeff Golub Euge Groove Stanley Jordan Earl Klugh Ledisi Keiko Matsui Phil Perry Jake Shimabukuro Brian Simpson Peter White
For more information on the Smooth Jazz Cruises go to www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com.
For people who prefer more "straight ahead jazz," as opposed to smooth jazz, that cruise sails on November 18, 2009. Also on the Westerdam, it is already 75 percent sold out and includes the following artists:
Ernie Adamas John Allred Karrin Allyson Quartet John Ascione Pete Barbutti Shelly Barg Anne Hampton Calaway Gilbert Castellanos Bill Charlap Trio James Chirrillo Freddy Cole Quartet Dee Daniels plus Trio Bill Easley John Fedchock Four Freshmen Jon Gordon Wycliffe Gordon Jeff Hamilton Trio Eddie Higgins Red Holloway Henry Johnson Quintet Tom Kennedy Kristin Korb Johnny Mandel Andy Martin Bill Mays Trio Butch Miles Bob Millikan Johnny O'Neal Trio Ken Peplowski Houston Person Quartet Claudio Rodito Quintet Anita Rosamond Tom Scott Quintet featuring Paulette McWilliams Lynn Seaton Marlena Shaw plus Trio Gary Smulyan Terrell Stafford Grant Stewart Jack Stuckey Helen Sung Trio Denise Thimes Warren Vache Scott Whitfield Rickey Woodard
For more information on the "Straight ahead Jazz Cruise" go to www.thejazzcruise.com.
Summing Up Jazz Cruises If you have never tried a music cruise of any kind, I strongly suggest it -- and these jazz cruises are especially rewarding. By the end of our cruise, the next jazz cruise was already sold out -- the last cabins were booked while we were onboard. If you go to the web site www.thesmoothjazzcruise, you will see that it says "wait list only."
The traditional jazz cruise scheduled for November 18, 2009 is only 75 percent sold out. If you are a jazz fan, I am sure you will love this cruise. It features literally dozens of well-known jazz names. The back to back smooth jazz cruises for 2011 are on sale now, and filling up quickly.
The producers, JazzCruisesLLC, have been using Holland America almost since the first cruise. The ship is the Westerdam, and each jazz sailing features a unique itinerary because many guests book the two jazz cruises back to back. This is a tough year economically, and these cruises are a very special value. Any cruise that can completely sell out a year in advance has to have something good going for it. Take my word for it.
Back to Top of Article >> Smooth Jazz Cruise 2009 (Part 1)