The Vail Jazz Festival is the mountain version of The Jazz Cruise. Missing it this year is sad.
Our Take: Missing the View from Vail
The pandemic has caused each of us to miss things. Travel is down. Concerts are cancelled. There are no movies to go see, few places to dine and few places to see others. The loss of personal contact has impacted us all. No one has been immune.
Only once in the last 15 years have I missed spending Labor Day weekend at the Vail Jazz Festival. A few years back, my niece scheduled her wedding that weekend, so Jamey Powell, from our office, was dispatched to serve in my place. To this day, Jamey’s biggest lament is that I do not have more nieces that are unmarried. Fliers for places to go for Labor Day mysteriously appear on my desk or in my email. Jamey keeps a bag packed in his car during the entire month of August, ready to board a plane if I go down for some reason. You cannot blame him.
There are so many wonderful festivals that we attend on a regular basis — Berks Jazz Fest, Monterey Jazz Festival and Newport Jazz Festival, for starters. But the Vail Jazz Festival has always been special to us. Missing it this year is sad, but it has triggered thoughts about why this particular event stands out.
It is not a large festival. The one’s mentioned above are larger in terms of the number of artists, attendees and scope. Nor is Vail a festival that presents pop stars or musicians that headline television shows or movies. The musicians are, however, some of the very top “straight-ahead” jazz musicians in the world. And, of course, the festival is not run by a huge organization, corporate sponsored entity or music producer. It is run, with great love and expertise, by Cathy and Howard Stone and the small but mighty Vail Jazz staff. Yes, it is not a big festival, but it does big things, supports the jazz education of top high school players and provides a wonderful setting and venue for jazz. Hard to beat the mountains at the end of the summer.
I guess that is why we love it so much. The Vail Jazz Festival is the mountain version of The Jazz Cruise. Actually, the Vail Jazz Festival predates The Jazz Cruise, so, in some ways, our cruise is a disciple. The overlap of musicians, guests and programming between the festival and our cruise is clear. For us, it is like home week, a reunion of sorts in the Fall ushering the promise of our January cruises.
I can still feel that rush of adrenaline as I start to think of ways to make the cruises better, more fun and more exciting.
On a very personal level, the Vail Jazz Festival has always been a time and place to take stock of things. There have been times that we arrive there with no staterooms at all to offer for The Jazz Cruise and times when we are actively promoting. That is one test. Another is that the festival signals the end of summer and the beginning of our season of preparing for the January and February cruises. Seeing the musicians, talking to the guests and thinking about what lays ahead has always inspired me to dedicate myself even more to our programs.
Typically, we leave the festival early in the morning on the last day. The drive from the mountains to the airport begins in the dark. Other than watching the road, there is little to think about other than what lays ahead … again, that being the cruise season. I can still feel that rush of adrenaline as I start to think of ways to make the cruises better, more fun and more exciting. By the time we hit the airport, turn in the rental car and board our plane to St. Louis, I am ready to take on the world. As I age, that feeling of awe is often accompanied by a nap on the plane. I try to convince myself that is the effect of the altitude, but nowadays, even thinking about doing things can be tiring!
There is no festival this year for us to attend. And, there are no cruises just a few months from now to plan. Ginning up the usually dynamic engines is still the goal, but, as the pun goes, it is “To No A Vail.” It just is not the same.
I will say that writing this note has helped a lot. Putting something on paper does not make it happen, but it does create a path to accountability. Having told our readers that we want to rev up to work on our Las Vegas events and dig even deeper into our planning for the ’22 sailings, we have sounded the alarm, shot the starter’s pistol and opened the gates.
Game on. Stay tuned as Entertainment Cruise Productions rolls out some amazing ideas, plans and programs for Las Vegas in ’21 and “Back to Sea” in ’22. Our best is yet to come.
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.
SAVE THE DATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 26 John Clayton and Alonzo Bodden LIVE!
After a wonderful Wednesday night this week with Kurt Elling and Shelly Berg, we are now looking forward to an encore episode of Jazz Cruise Conversations LIVE with John Clayton appearing in your living room alongside Alonzo Bodden, the comedian-in-residence for all of our jazz programs.
John is more than an extraordinary bassist — he’s also an accomplished and talented composer, arranger, conductor, producer and educator. On The Jazz Cruise, John leads Anita’s Big Band with his patented style and personality. For many of our Guests, the Big Band performances constitute the highlight of the cruise. Thanks to John’s leadership, you’d never know that The Jazz Cruise is the only place they all play together as a unit.
With our favorite comic hosting this special LIVE event, you know the conversation with cover all the bases (and basses)! If you have a question you’d like to ask John or Alonzo, please send them in advance to email@example.com or you can ask them during the conversation via Facebook.
Same Time! Same Place! More Stars!
Featuring the stars of The Jazz Cruise and Jazz: Live In Las Vegas, Jazz Cruise Conversations LIVE airs at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT every Wednesday evening, streaming direct to you on The Jazz Cruise’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
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.
Here is the schedule through the end of next month:
Sept. 2: John Pizzarelli (on Bucky Pizzarelli) with Ken Peplowski
Sept. 9: Paul Lowden (about tradition of jazz in Las Vegas) with Ken Peplowski
Sept. 16: Randy Brecker & Ada Rovatti
Sept. 23: Cyrille Aimée with Emmet Cohen
Sept. 30: Before & After Listening Session with Ken Peplowski, hosted by Shelly Berg
Don’t Miss the Jazz Experience You Love … In Las Vegas!
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!