The bandstand is back tonight for Saturday Night with Marcus Miller & Friends.
Our Take: Blessed to Be Back
on the Bandstand & Sharing Music
Not being a devoutly religious person, I nonetheless feel devotion for people, causes and goals. That this path does not conform to a known religious sect is awkward, but not troublesome. Long ago, I realized that who you are and what you are, are defined by your heart, not by your affiliation.
When asked what religion he followed, Charlie Parker said: “I am a devout musician.” Sounds glib, right? But, for a moment, or however long it takes you to read this note, let’s see if Bird’s comment has wings. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how on point he was.
Let’s start with the bandstand itself. So many musicians talk about their reverence for the bandstand. Being on the bandstand commands a certain respectful behavior and decorum. The bandstand once had a dress code and specific rules of engagements, but just as our religious practices have modernized and adapted, so too has life on the bandstand. But only to a point. Absolute limitations of right and wrong remain in religion, and the bandstand continues to be steeped in traditions and norms. The ones that live on reflect sharing, respect, helping others and honesty. I did not clearly call out whether that last sentence referred to a church or synagogue or the bandstand. They apply equally, don’t they?
Yes, the bandstand is the altar of music. The place where your true spirit, true talent and true soul are on display for all to see and judge. To combine modern slang with musical terminology, each musician on the bandstand has the opportunity to prove himself or herself as either a “poser” or a “player.” Are they bringing something to us that enhances our lives or is it something we have heard several times before? To be special, your music should reflect your life and your essence. Louis Armstrong, the high priest of jazz, famously stated that “(his) whole life, (his) whole soul, (his) whole spirit is to blow that horn … what we play is life.”
But, don’t these concepts apply to all music? Is jazz special? The answer to the second question is an unequivocal “yes,” but that is too easy and does not answer the question as to how jazz and religion mirror each other. Religion does not limit its impact to only pleasant and pleasing topics. It addresses tragedy, despair and sadness. Ever watch a horn player take a solo that makes you feel his or her sorrow or grief? You can feel the anguish and the pain with each note and each space. Other music forms touch on those feelings, but only for a moment and never with the depth of feeling that you hear in jazz. Those moments in jazz are akin to a choir sharing a solemn hymn or song.
If you reread this note, you will see that “sharing” is a prevalent theme. That was intentional. “Sharing” is a more complicated concept than first thought. Most commonly, “sharing” is thought of as providing others with gifts or items of necessity that we possess. But, “sharing” has another facet. To “share” is to recognize that the item in question is limited or finite. If it were abundant, there would be no need to “share.” Instead, we would simply “donate,” “give” or “contribute.”
“Sharing” in the jazz world goes back to the bandstand. In each gig, there is but one bandstand. Each musician must “share” that space. They must “share” that tune. No one gets it all. Taking that analogy to church opens several paths, very few of which I have the expertise or credentials to suggest. Suffice it to say that we must share whatever deity we recognize, what religious teachings we follow and what mores those entail. Here, again, no one gets it all.
We share a country, a planet, a universe. If married, we share lives. If parents, we share lives with our children. “Sharing” is a vital skill, often overlooked and underappreciated. Being a benefactor, contributor, donor, patron, philanthropist or grantor is a wonderful thing. Providing money, gifts or other benefits can save lives, cure diseases and change the world, but serving others can do all that and represents the most important type of sharing — sharing our time. Our time is the ultimate finite element in our lives. Sharing our lives with others is priceless.
I cannot begin to tell you how much we miss sharing time with our guests on the cruises. Sharing the music, sharing the venues, sharing our stories and sharing our love of jazz. Perhaps the cruise ship is another altar… Okay, that is a bit of a stretch, but I do pray for its prompt, safe and joyous return.
Until then, settle back and enjoy the inaugural showing of Saturday Night with Marcus Miller & Friends, featuring George Benson and Joey DeFrancesco with Alonzo Bodden and the Saturday Night Band (Marcus Miller, Patrice Rushen, Eric Marienthal, Paul Jackson, Jr., Mike Rocha, Alex Bailey and Munyungo Jackson). Once you log in, you may watch the show anytime in the 36-hour period between 10 p.m. ET on Saturday Night and 10 a.m. ET on Monday morning. It is not a cruise, but it is a great looking bandstand! And amazing music. Enjoy the show!
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.
SATURDAY NIGHT WITH MARCUS MILLER & FRIENDS: Tonight Is the Night!
Live Show Pre-Party at 9 p.m. ET
Full Concert Event Premieres at 10 p.m. ET
Starting at 10 p.m. ET tonight, Marcus Miller, George Benson, Joey DeFrancesco, and our Saturday Night Band will appear on that stage together streaming online into your living room for 90 minutes of great music, conversation and comedy. The Full Concert Event can be watched on your laptop, desktop, tablet, smartphone or Smart TV in HD picture and sound. No matter what time you log in (10 p.m. ET or later), you will see the entire show, so don’t fret if you are “late”!
Click here to buy your ticket, giving you access to the show when it premieres. If Saturday Night don’t work, you have 36 hours to enjoy each show in its entirety On-Demand after it airs. It will be an exciting evening of music. We hope we’ll see you there … tonight or whenever you are able to tune in!
Last week, we posed the following question to the readers of The Weekender:
Question: What is the significance of the following four numbers: 472, 479, 486, 493?
Correct Answer: Those are the number of days until The Jazz Cruise ’22, The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’22: Back to Sea Sailing, The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘22.1 and ‘22.2 sail (as of the date we asked the question)!
The Winner: The first correct answer, and the winner of $100, was submitted by longtime SJC Cruiser Hal Horowitz. Hal nosed out another correct submission by 22 minutes!
With so many folks participating, we decided to offer another brain teaser, again with the first correct answer winning $100… Here is the question:
Question: Over the past 20+ years, Entertainment Cruise Productions has produced several cruise programs that either have the word “jazz” in its title or presented “jazz” as its centerpiece. Can you name them all? Land based events are not part of this quiz – just cruises!