Even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything, jazz will always be a bond that brings us all together.
Our Take: The Healing Power of Jazz
I am not Will Rogers. The humorist, actor and author famously said he never met a man he didn’t like. Most of us cannot make a statement like that. In fact, I’m certain Will is the exception that proves the rule: It’s normal to not see eye to eye with everybody. Virtually all of us can name a few people we’ve crossed paths with over the years that we just didn’t get along with. Those feelings generally flow both ways. As the joke goes, “Will Rogers never met me!”
Again, this is all normal. Sometimes it’s productive. Michael Jordan is Exhibit A that a good competitive animus can fuel the fire and create motivation and purpose.
Such is the case of Joe Segal and me. For those who need an introduction, Joe is a jazz icon, perhaps the leading jazz impresario of Chicago, having created the renowned Jazz Showcase in 1947. For years, the Jazz Showcase was the jazz equivalent of a popular pop-up shop, presenting great shows all over town, seldom in the same place for very long. In the 1970s, Joe opened his Jazz Showcase club on North Rush Street near Navy Pier and the club continues to present world-class jazz shows from its current home near Chicago’s Grant Park.
Sadly, Joe passed away a couple of weeks ago. He was 94. As he richly deserved, his death was noted by many in the jazz world and he was praised for his devotion to the music and his willingness to promote jazz events for many years. That commitment had already earned him the highest honor in jazz, induction as a NEA Jazz Master. Joe qualified in the non-musician category, where the NEA honors folks whose support of and dedication to jazz has been very significant. Joe earned that title and he did it the hard way, grinding out jazz programs with grit and guts, as well as love and longing. For all that, I respected Joe when he was living and honor him in death.
At the same time, Joe and I have a history that also evokes thoughts that aren’t so glowing. I never wished him harm or misfortune, but he did spark a competitive drive in me to prove him wrong. Yes, I had an old-school burr under my saddle when it came to Joe.
Why? It lies within the story of the founding of The Jazz Cruise in 1999. See, Joe was one of the four principal drivers of the jazz cruise program on Norwegian Cruise Line’s SS Norway. For almost 20 years, every Fall, nearly 1,000 guests would occupy half of that ship and listen to the greatest jazz in the world. Guests were rounded up by each of the four principal groups, which included Joe, a group in Arkansas, a group in the United Kingdom and my mother, who operated a travel agency in St. Louis.
Joe was clearly the jazz mind of the group, a role he cherished, but my mother organized the largest group of guests. She would share with Joe the thoughts and desires of her guests in terms of lineup and other production elements. I was not involved back then, but Mom would tell me that Joe would act upon her group’s requests sparingly and with great reluctance.
In 1999, NCL, like most cruise lines, shut down the theme cruises that they were producing. The other members of the jazz cruise group saw this as the end of their program. Mom saw it as the opportunity to charter a whole ship just for jazz. She did her research, secured a cruise ship (Holland America’s Maasdam), talked to the musicians and presented this proposal to the other jazz cruise producers. Her offer was that they would share all aspects of the program equally. Joe would be the guy who chose the musicians and do the programming, and the others would run the hospitality aspects of the cruise.
Mom’s presentation was well done, complete with risk analysis and costs. Joe not only rejected the proposal, but he also took Mom to task for suggesting such a risky and naive plan. Those discussions devolved, going well beyond the business aspects of the deal and unfortunately into the world of insults. Joe and Mom were both 70 years old at the time. Neither had gone to college, but both of them were running businesses. You would think that they would have been on the same page, but nothing was further from the truth.
As we know, Mom went ahead and created The Jazz Cruise, which has been sailing for more than 20 years and led to the creation of Entertainment Cruise Productions. We have now produced nearly 90 full-ship charter programs and each sailing is even better than the last. Later, Joe and the others formed Jazz at Sea, a group program that sailed for a number of years.
In many respects, I should have been grateful to Joe all along. He loved jazz, championed live music and he emboldened Mom to undertake The Jazz Cruise, without which there would be no Entertainment Cruise Productions.
When I saw that he had died, just 7 months after Mom died, I told myself that it was time to turn the page. What was done was done and letting bygones be bygones is healthy. Ultimately, our paths crossed for good reason. We both love jazz.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Blue Note at Sea and the Jazz In Vegas series. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ’22 JAZZ SAILINGS Special Updates for Guests on The Jazz Cruise ’22 & All 3 Sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’22
Earlier this week, every guest who holds a Reservation on The Jazz Cruise ’22, The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’22 “Back to Sea” Sailing or either of The Smooth Jazz Cruise Diamond Celebration Sailings (SJC ‘22.1 & SJC ‘22.2) received a notice updating them on the particulars of their 2022 jazz cruise. For some, it has been awhile since they reviewed their Reservation, so every guest will soon also receive their current Reservation Confirmation, Stateroom Amenity schedule, Reservation Terms and Conditions, and Payment History.
If you hold a Reservation on any of our ’22 jazz sailings and did not receive a notice earlier this week, please email us email@example.com and we will make sure that your information is sent to you immediately. Your full Reservation Confirmation will be emailed to you within the next week.
And, of course, now is a great time to reserve one of the remaining staterooms on these cruise programs. With 17-18 months before the sailing dates, you can reserve a stateroom at very affordable monthly payments. Great staterooms remain available, so ACT NOW!
SAVE THE DATE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 9 The History of Jazz In Las Vegas
With Paul Lowden & Ken Peplowski
In the next episode of Jazz Cruise Conversations LIVE, we’ll take a fascinating, deep dive into the history of jazz in Las Vegas. The LIVE online event will feature Ken Peplowski with Paul Lowden, former owner and operator of the Sahara empire and current president of the Las Vegas-based Porchlight Jazz Productions, which produces the Newport Beach Jazz Party.
Paul is a great friend of The Jazz Cruise and has joined our team to help present Jazz: Live In Las Vegas in 2021 at the fabulous Encore Resort and Theater.
“This will be the first time that jazz will be performed on the Las Vegas Strip in a major room,” Paul explains. “The Encore Resort is a world-class property and is a perfect venue for these world-class musicians. Throughout the years, jazz presentations were always somewhere, but never of this magnitude and this format. There have been great jazz musicians playing (and even living) in Las Vegas — from Count Basie, Jimmy Smith and Joe Williams to Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett — but there has never been this kind of presentation on the Las Vegas Strip, a gathering of awesome talent in a festival format. Jazz: Live in Las Vegas will be musically historic!”
Click here to save the date and watch on The Jazz Cruise’sFacebook page.
Click here to set a reminder and watch on The Jazz Cruise’sYouTube channel.
We can’t wait to hear Ken and Paul talk jazz and Las Vegas on Wednesday night! If you have a question you’d like to ask, please send them in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can ask them during the conversation via Facebook.
To learn more about our 2021 residencies in Las Vegas, click on the banner of your desired program below!
The Jazz Cruise Hits The Strip The Jazz Cruise has sailed the Caribbean, cruised the Pacific, journeyed the Atlantic and even traversed the Mississippi River on its way to New Orleans. But it has never stopped in Las Vegas … until now. The very best “straight-ahead” jazz musicians in the world are heading to Las Vegas for 5 Days and 5 Nights at the Encore Resort and Theater … more than 50 hours of YOUR music.
The Smooth Jazz Cruise on Land
Just like The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise has traveled far and wide at sea bringing world-class music and out-of-this-world-fun to thousands of guests. Last summer, The Smooth Jazz Cruise appeared on land for the very first time, in its hometown of St. Louis. But that was a one-day event. In 2021, we’re “docking” for 5 Days and 5 Nights in the City of Lights, Las Vegas … Join us!