The work goes on, but the lack of personal interaction is eerie.
Our Take: Taking Stock of Our New Existence
Our office is on lockdown and will be through the end of April, at least. We are working, which in our case means helping those who had reservations for the cancelled sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise in March, those who were booked on Blue Note at Sea ’21 and our 8,000 guests on our upcoming sailings in 2021. Our various teams “meet” twice a day and are probably more organized and focused than they would be if they were in the office. Everything seems to be getting done, but the absence of personal interaction is eerie.
Now, I have some business relationships that have lasted years with little to no face time. In fact, some of my more interesting back-and-forths occur on a regular basis with 3 folks whom I have never met. So, I am not saying that you have to “meet to complete,” but the lack of doing so over a long period of time might produce some weird effects.
I am working from the office. I drive here by myself, ride the elevator by myself and work in our office, almost always by myself. I see no one and interact with no one except by email or phone. Convenient truth or otherwise, I feel I am following the guidelines.
This existence is producing a few behaviors that require watching:
Appearance — I am surprised that few have discussed the fact that getting a haircut during this time is almost impossible. I have not reached it yet, but, at some point, my coif will be pretty shabby. I do shave every day. We have Sir Alec Guinness’ character in The Bridge on the River Kwai to thank for that. Even in prison camp, he shaved everyday as a sense of personal pride and determination. Every time I walk out of the bathroom having forgotten to shave, I automatically start whistling Colonel Bogey’s March and head right back into the bathroom and shave.
Attire — We dress very informally at the office, as we have no walk-ins, so that has not changed. But, I am clearly less concerned about the crispness of whatever activewear I am wearing. By the way, calling it “activewear” for men does not change the reality that we are wearing a version of the tracksuit that old men wear in Florida to play shuffleboard or go to the track. Calling it activewear does not make it so!
Attitude — With no one to smile to or no one smiling at you, there is a perpetual sullenness to the day. Yes, you can share a laugh with someone over the phone, but it is not as satisfying as the physical humor elements of having someone act out a joke or commit a pratfall. Laughing by yourself has the same emptiness as … well, you know where I am going here.
Appetite — Finding silver linings in this mess is difficult, if not impossible, but my appetite is simply half of what it normally would be. No going out. No drinking through dinner, ordering dessert or late-night pizza. Actually, no late-night anything. I would say that this is making me healthier, but I am also barely working out. I can sneak in tennis twice a week, at least so far.
Perhaps what I miss most is live music. Paula and I listen to music all the time at home. Our home is lovely. Our sound system is top flight. I love being with Paula. But listening to music at home does not compare to being at a live event. Watching the band. Hanging out with the players I know. Digging the crowds at a jazz club. Just seeing people out and experiencing life through music.
April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Normally, we would be joyously proclaiming the glory of jazz, urging you to attend a live concert this month and touting the latest recordings. We can share with you that our friends at SiriusXM Watercolors and Real Jazz will be running some of our cruise content this month. Hopefully, that brings some pleasure to our fans.
All of this is very cruel. But not nearly as cruel as the deaths of Bucky Pizzarelli, Ellis Marsalis and so many others. What did we do to deserve this tragedy?
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Show Must Go On … Online
With so many venues shut down and shows postponed, presenters and artists are getting creative about keeping the music going by doing more virtual or streamed performances.
Our friends at Berks Jazz Fest, who were forced to postpone the festival until 2021, are presenting a web-based fest featuring videos of 11 concerts from the past three years at Berks. The videos, all shown in their entirety, have already started and will run through Monday, April 6. Among the artists featured in the next few days are Everette Harp, Brian Bromberg, Pieces of a Dream, Will Downing, Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum. In total, the Boscov’s Berks Jazz Fest Encore Online will provide over 20 hours of great music.
SFJAZZ, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Montclair Jazz Festival’s Jazz House Kids program are also among the great jazz organizations streaming shows and interviews online. Several of our favorite artists, including Rick Braun, Emmet Cohen, Joey DeFrancesco, Bria Skonberg and Steve Tyrell, are regularly posting songs and sets to their websites or social media pages as well.
JazzTimes magazine has created a handy guide detailing all of the programs and we’ll continue to share with you the efforts of our partners and artists in the coming weeks through both The Weekender and our social media pages.
Please stay safe and keep listening to great music!
Jazz Club of Sarasota Presents Award
The Jazz Club of Sarasota was forced to reschedule its annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, but still presented its Satchmo Award to Rachel Domber and her late husband Matthew (Mat) Domber, the owners of Arbors Records. The award, created in 1987, honors those who “have made a unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz, our original art form,” according to Ed Linehan, president of the jazz club and managing director of the Sarasota Jazz Festival.
Based in Clearwater, Florida, the Dombers founded Arbors in 1989 and over the years have released more than 400 albums, including many by artists who have played The Jazz Cruise, such as Nicki Parrott, Ken Peplowski, Houston Person and more.