Being the “benchmark” by which all future players or musicians are measured is an amazing honor.
Our Take: Charlie Parker at 100
It seems silly to be talking about the centennial birthday of a man who died at 34. Yet, that is the case with Charlie Parker. That he deserves that type of recognition is a tribute to his music, his life and his legacy. Yes, Charlie Parker did not live to be 100, but his music certainly did and it is likely that it will live for 100 more years!
Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City at a time when jazz dominated the city’s music scene. In fact, Charlie grew up in the “jazz district,” but moved to Chicago when he was still a teenager. His efforts there led to a Decca recording contract and he was off and running. It was during this time that he picked up the nickname “Yardbird,” which, of course, would become “Bird.” His popularity would rise above all the other great jazzmen of the times, which is why in late 1949, when a new jazz club opened in New York, it was called Birdland, in his honor.
Charlie’s battles with drugs and booze, his highly successful relationships with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, “Yardbird Suite,” “A Night in Tunisia” and so many other hallmarks of his short, but historic career are well documented in movies, books and articles. But, my fascination with Charlie centers on the fact that he is universally acclaimed as the father of Bebop and a man who changed how saxophones are played forever. Our great friend, Marcus Miller, talked about this recently on his SiriusXM syndicated show “Miller Time.” Marcus was doing a series on the musicians who transformed their genres.
“Charlie Parker is the Babe Ruth of the alto sax.
Who is the next Charlie Parker?”
In sports, we look to a great star as a generational player. Then we ask ourselves, who is the next “so and so.” In hockey, who was the next Bobby Orr? It was Wayne Gretzky. Who is the next Gretzky? No one, yet. In baseball, it goes Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron to Mike Trout. In golf, it is Ben Hogan to Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. Football is tough, so you have to choose a position. Let’s do quarterbacks. It would be Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana to Tom Brady. (I cannot wait for the litany of alternative answers to that one.) Even if you have very different choices, you understand the point. We measure time and progress by individuals, people who are so outstanding and record breaking, that they represent an entire era. The mere mention of the names conjures images of success, greatness and achievement.
Charlie Parker is the Babe Ruth of the alto sax. Who is the next Charlie Parker? My extreme prejudice is about to show here, but I would name David Sanborn. Like Charlie, David changed how alto saxophonists play, or in this case, try to sound. In today’s world, most young saxophonists are trying to sound like David or Grover Washington Jr. Now Grover played alto, tenor and soprano saxophone. Though I am sure that David can do that as well, I have never heard him play anything other than alto, hence he has earned the inside track to being the heir to Charlie Parker.
Being the “benchmark” by which all future players or musicians are measured is an amazing honor. Most of the time we see them only on television. I have met Hank Aaron (for 20 seconds), saw Bobby Orr play live, flew on the same plane as Wayne Gretzky, met Muhammad Ali in a restaurant in Washington, D.C. and I know David Sanborn.
Clearly, my time with those legends is pretty limited. But, for the last 20-plus years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know thousands of jazz-loving guests on our cruise programs and hundreds of musicians, some of whom are superstars and all of whom are great players. I have been able to watch how our guests have become very comfortable with each other and with the artists and musicians.
The community that they have created, the “jazz cruiser” community, may not be as impactful as Charlie Parker has been, nor may it last for 100 years, but, in the last couple of months, the resiliency, dedication and energy of the “jazz cruisers” has invigorated every member of the Entertainment Cruise Productions team and has reminded us of our responsibility to our guests and the genre. Yes, Charlie Parker may have created Bebop, but our jazz cruisers have invented something special as well. They have created one of the most inclusive, loving and respectful group dynamics in the world.
Just as we search for the next Charlie Parker or the next great this or that, we continue to search for ways to make our next cruise even better. Being the “benchmark” for jazz events is our mission. Making each cruise better than the last one is our contribution to the cause.
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 Smooth Jazz Cruise ’22 Launch Video
By now, most of you have seen The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’22 Launch Video. We had a lot of fun putting it together and so did the artists. Clearly, the video was inspired by the Zoom video revolution ushered in by “stay-at-home” rules. But, for those of us at a certain age, it is also reminiscent of the introduction to The Brady Bunch television show. And, of course, there is the Hollywood Squares analogy to consider as well.
All six artists were excited to participate and we could genuinely feel their love for one another, the music and The Smooth Jazz Cruise. That the video was a hit is confirmed by the fact that on Monday, June 8, the first day of Open Booking for the three sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’22, more staterooms were reserved on that day than on any other day in our 20-plus-year history. Finding fun amidst all that is going on right now is a positive.
The response to our notice about The Jazz Cruise and The Smooth Jazz Cruise each having a “Live in Las Vegas” event was extraordinary. Now, we are narrowing down the hotel properties and finding out which of our jazz stars would be available. Quite frankly, if our current plans hold, it will be an amazing event.
The plan is to have a 5-day, 5-night event at one of the top resort hotels in Las Vegas for The Jazz Cruise, followed by another 5-day, 5-night event for The Smooth Jazz Cruise. The properties we are seeking have beautiful and large theaters that we can customize to provide any necessary “social distancing” without losing the ambience and energy of our shows. All events would take place in a theater dedicated solely to us, so the incidence of “mingling” with other guests would be minimized. And, with the events scheduled for 8 months from now, the likelihood of calmer and safer environs is high. The lineups will be first-class, as we’re sure you would have guessed.
More info will be headed your way very soon. Rooms will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis just after July 4. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to us at ECPINVEGAS@ecpcruises.com.
Boney James’ New Album Is Available Now!
The countdown is over for the release of Boney James‘ new album, “Solid.” The four-time Grammy-nominated saxophonist’s 17th album as a leader dropped yesterday and we’re listening to it right now.
“A solid relationship is when someone has your back and will stand by your side no matter what,” Boney said of the album title. “Solid is a word that has a few meanings, but this one really resonated with me and became the theme of the record.”
As a person and musician, Boney is most definitely solid. He is one of the most beloved and respected smooth jazz stars in the world and he continues to define and lead the way. We are proud he is a host of The Smooth Jazz Cruise.
Emmet Cohen & Veronica Swift
Reunite for 2 Online Shows
Emmet Cohen and Veronica Swift, two of The Jazz Cruise’s favorite young stars, are reuniting for online shows this week.
The Jazz Cruise will present a Livestream of the Emmet Cohen Trio featuring Veronica Swift on Monday, June 15. It can be seen live either on Facebook or YouTube.
On Tuesday, June 16, Emmet and Veronica will present a special, private duo concert for guests and fans of our jazz cruises. Click here to sign up and you will receive the link to the concert! The show will also be available to rewatch at a later time.