Enjoy a cruise down memory lane as we prepare to announce The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.
Entertainment Cruise Productions
The Smooth Jazz Cruise
Our Take: The Making of The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20
Candy and Boney
Many of you know that I came to the world of smooth jazz by accident. My roots are in straight-ahead jazz, as typified by The Jazz Cruise, our first cruise program, which has sailed since 2001. The success of that cruise program drew the attention of many folks, including those trying to produce a smooth jazz cruise.

Warren Hill was one of those folks and he contacted me to help him produce the first sailings in 2003. I came on board to organize the programming and, if I liked the cruise, to take it from a half-ship sailing to a full-ship charter. As I have shared before, the opening show of that cruise was an eye opening experience. Not only were the artists amazing, but I had never seen such passion and excitement in a crowd of adults in my life. Clearly, this was a very special music genre.

Since that time, The Smooth Jazz Cruise has continued to evolve. The half ship became a full ship. One full ship became two full ships. Our hosts have gone from Warren Hill to Wayman Tisdale to Dave Koz to Marcus Miller and David Sanborn to our current duo of Marcus and Boney James. The Smooth Jazz Cruise has become the cruise home of some of the biggest stars in the genre. This is the cruise where you can see Marcus, Boney, Brian Culbertson and Candy Dulfer, along with a continuum of other superstars each and every year. The level and quantity of talent is unsurpassed.

From the start, I wanted The Smooth Jazz Cruise to be a tribute to the music of this amazing genre. The quality of the music and the quality of our guest experience to enjoy that music are our top priorities.

Proudly, The Smooth Jazz Cruise has produced some amazing moments. That list begins with the cruise being the first and only time that Miller, Sanborn and Bob James performed the entire "Double Vision" album live. We all remember the Cabo Wabo bash that featured our dear friend Jeff Golub and included Arturo Sandoval and a host of great friends. We welcomed Wayman Tisdale as our new host and then said goodbye to him as his health failed. George Duke, Joe Sample, Al  Jarreau, Ricky Lawson and Natalie Cole have also come and gone on The Smooth Jazz Cruise. Recently, we have been treated to Marcus Miller's "History of Jazz" and his special "Hat to Hat" show with Boney James.

On Monday, July 23, the lineup and details of The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20 will be announced. You can await your special email presentation, which will arrive on Monday, or you can visit www.thesmoothjazzcruise.com and check it out as early as 12:01 a.m. Monday morning. We hope that you will be as excited about the lineup as we are, but we know that you will enjoy the video announcement. Two very special musicians have come together to make that happen.

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief walk down memory lane as well as our tease about The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.

On a personal note, I will forever be grateful to The Smooth Jazz Cruise for the years of fun, great music and happy times we have enjoyed. But, most of all, the cruise has given me the opportunity to share time with the most dedicated and caring artists and musicians and the most enthusiastic and kind guests that I have ever known. The Smooth Jazz Cruise has created a community of friends that transcends the genre. Everywhere I go, I encounter cruisers. The bond and experiences that we share are priceless. When I look into their eyes, I smile and they smile back. Why? Because we know that we share a week each year where people get together, respect each other, share great music and just have a wonderful time.

I thank The Smooth Jazz Cruise for that experience.
 
Comedy and Jazz: Improvisation Is the Glue
Alonzo Bodden
Entertainment Cruise Productions has never produced a jazz cruise without a significant comedian on board. Jazz and Comedy. Comedy and Jazz. They just go together.

The "why" is quite simple. Both disciplines feature performers on stage, often solo, improvising for a crowd. The late-1950s was the golden era of jazz and comedy as a pairing. If you look at the names of that era, you see Steve Allen, Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Lenny Bruce and more. Each of these comics loved jazz. Yes, it was the improvisation that made them kindred spirits, but the lifestyle of a jazz musician coincided nicely (or not) with that of a comedian.  

Late nights, bar scenes, multiple sets and similar-sized venues were shared by both. Particularly deep into jazz was Mort Sahl, the comedian often recognized as the leader of the new wave of storytelling and observation humor. Sahl was a huge jazz fan, particularly Stan Kenton and Dave Brubeck. He wrote liner notes for Paul Desmond and was the host of the very first Playboy Jazz Festival (in Chicago) in 1959.

It is also interesting to see how many jazz performers are very funny. The Jazz Cruise boasts John Pizzarelli, Ken Peplowski and Wycliffe Gordon as onstage cut-ups. Blue Note at Sea would put Robert Glasper and Kurt Elling in the same category. And, of course, lest we forget, both cruises feature our comic-in-jazz specialist, Alonzo Bodden. Now there is someone who can make you laugh!
 
Los Angeles Jazz Society Presents 'The Art of the Guitar'
John Pisano
Our friends at the Los Angeles Jazz Society have been keeping jazz alive in greater Los Angeles for 35 years. This year their new "Aspects of Jazz" concert series kicked off in April with a documentary on the life of Chick Webb, followed by a Latin Jazz concert in May.

Next up is "The Art of the Guitar" on Sunday, July 22. This entertaining and educational concert is dedicated to the guitar and how it has evolved throughout various cultures. The event will feature three stellar guitarists of different generations: John Pisano, Cary DeNigris and Barry Zweig. The concert starts at 2:30 p.m. at Hollywood Piano, 323 S. Front St. in Burbank, Calif.

The last concert in the series is "All About the Drum" on August 26. For more info, visit www.lajazz.org.