It is with a heavy and full heart, that we pivot today from Blue Note at Sea ’20 to The Jazz Cruise ’20.
With a Heavy and Full Heart
We just completed the 4th annual sailing of Blue Note at Sea. Both in terms of artists and guests, it was an international gathering of top musicians and jazz fans. From the start the spirit was enthusiastic, the crowds at the shows were huge and the smiles on every face were from ear to ear. Clearly, the Blue Note at Sea cruise has found its voice and its place in the panorama of Entertainment Cruise Productions’ jazz programs.
Host Robert Glasper led off the week with his amazing trio, featuring Vicente Archer and Damion Reid. Main Show stars included Marcus Miller (Host), Christian McBride, Melody Gardot, Kamasi Washington, Gregory Porter, Joey DeFrancesco, Kirk Whalum and Cory Henry. David Sanborn was the host of some kick-ass late night sessions featuring a who’s-who of jazz superstars sharing one intimate stage. Cyrille Aimée, Niki Haris, Wycliffe Gordon, Joel Ross, Aaron Parks, Eric Marienthal (Music Director), Sullivan Fortner, Emmet Cohen, Geoffrey Keezer, Gerald Clayton, Russell Gunn and a host of others rounded out the 7-day, 200+ hours of music cruise that will provide so many with enough memories to last until this cruise sails again in 2021.
During the latter part of the cruise, I learned that my mother, Anita E. Berry, had died. She was 90 years old. I have chronicled her story several times in the past, but this time, it is with the heaviest of hearts.
Mom founded The Jazz Cruise, the first and only full-ship charter in the world dedicated to “straight ahead” jazz. Her venture continues today when the 20th Anniversary sailing of that cruise departs Miami this very afternoon. The irony is both eerie and touching. Mom’s idea not only led to the creation of Entertainment Cruise Productions, which includes other jazz programs and a full list of theme cruises, but the success of The Jazz Cruise provided the impetus for the proliferation of full-ship charter music cruises. It is fair to suggest that Mom started an entire industry. Remember, she chartered her first ship at age 70, which, coincidentally will be my age in a few weeks. Again, both eerie and touching.
“In the spirit of a great New Orleans funeral, 7 days of music, merriment and great camaraderie would have certainly been the way that she would want to be remembered.”
The Jazz Cruise ’20 will take a moment, or two, to honor her, but it will go on with as much, if not more, heart and soul than ever before. In the spirit of a great New Orleans funeral, 7 days of music, merriment and great camaraderie would have certainly been the way that she would want to be remembered.
I need to wrap this up as the musicians are boarding the ship right now for The Jazz Cruise. Without exception, Embarkation Day was Mom’s happiest day of the year. For one week each year, she and her favorite offspring, the cruise that is, were the center of the jazz world. No one did it better, loved it more or gave more of herself in pursuit of making guests happy than Mom. Other than her kids, all their spouses and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nothing was more important to Mom than The Jazz Cruise.
As she loved to say, “Play On!”
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director – Jazz of Entertainment Cruise Productions. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gregory Porter Previews New Album
on Blue Note at Sea
In between extraordinary performances this past week on Blue Note at Sea, Gregory Porter sat down with Don Was of Blue Note Records for a fascinating conversation. They talked about Gregory’s creative process, as well as the inspiration for much of his material (it’s a lot Mom and a little bit Dad). They also offered our guests a sneak preview of Gregory’s next album for Blue Note – All Rise – which will be released on April 17.
The album features his heart-on-sleeve lyrics imbued with everyday philosophy and real-life detail, set to a stirring mix of jazz, soul, blues, gospel and pop. As Porter worked out this album’s direction, he looked inward, upward, and around him, and arrived at a raison d’être found in the title, All Rise.
“We hear that phrase when presidents or judges come into the room,” says Porter, “but I’m thinking all of us rise — not just one person being exalted. We are all exalted and lifted up by love. This is my political thought and my real truth. It comes from my personality, my mother’s personality, the personality of the blues, and of black people. It’s this idea of making do with the scraps, of resurrection and ascension, and of whatever the current situation is, it can get better through love.”
We will share with you the podcast from Don and Gregory’s onboard conversation in the coming weeks. Then, be on the lookout for this exciting new recording in April!
Congratulations to Our Grammy
Nominees and Winners
Several artists in the Blue Note at Sea and The Jazz Cruise family were nominated and won Grammy Awards, including Christian McBride, Geoffrey Keezer, Melissa Aldana, Catherine Russell, Tierney Sutton, Fred Hersch, Anat Cohen, Cyrille Aimée, Brian Lynch, Keb’ Mo’ and Randy Brecker.
Randy, who is joining us for The Jazz Cruise this week, has a new little statue on his mantle, winning the Grammy last Sunday for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for “Sozinho” from his album Rocks with the NDR Bigband. This was his 7th win and 19th nomination. Brian Lynch, who is also sailing on The Jazz Cruise this week, won Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for The Omni-American Book Club by his big band. Keb’ Mo’, who sails on Blue Note at Sea in 2021, won Best Americana Album for Oklahoma.
We congratulate Randy, Brian and Keb’ Mo’, as well as all of our great friends who received nominations, because it is indeed a significant honor to be nominated for this prestigious award.