Marcus Miller, winner of two Grammy® Awards, the 2013 Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz (Holland), the 2010 Victoire du Jazz (France) and appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2013, is not only an exceptional musician— a multi-instrumentalist and world-renowned bassist— but also a highly gifted composer and producer. The legendary album Tutu, written and produced for Miles Davis, sealed his international fame when Marcus was only 25. Over the course of his career, has collaborated with artists as varied and talented as Eric Clapton, George Benson, Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Wayne Shorter, Lalah Hathaway and Herbie Hancock. He also has produced his own genre-defying albums, among them The Sun Don’t Lie, Tales, M2, Silver Rain, Free, A Night in Monte Carlo (with the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra), and Renaissance. Along with international tours, Marcus Miller hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM radio show, “Miller Time.”
Boney James’ personal relationship with music has never been anything but solid. Picking up the sax at age 10 in his native New Rochelle, New York, “I immediately loved it, and it pretty quickly became my favorite hobby.”
By the time he entered his teens, James was already gigging with bands, and he turned pro at 19. He apprenticed as a sideman for artists like Morris Day and the Isley Brothers, touring and doing sessions for seven years before cutting his first solo album in 1992. The independently released Trust led immediately to a major label deal and a string of increasingly successful recordings and nonstop touring.
Now a four-time GRAMMY nominee with four RIAA Gold records and career sales topping three million units, James continues to defy genres; A two-time NAACP Award nominee, a Soul Train Award winner and named one of the Top 3 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Artists of the Decade.
James says he’s looking forward to heading out on the road and seeing how the material from Solid (the saxophonist/composer’s seventeenth album as a leader) evolves from night to night. “I love playing live, maybe more than I ever did,” he adds. “That has not gotten old at all. A lot of guys get tired of the traveling but it’s still a joy for me every time I go out there and play.”
It’s still a joy to his multitude of fans too. “I try to be there for the people who are interested in listening to my music,” says James, “to be solid in that relationship and to never let anybody down. I often get great compliments from the people that come to my shows, that I ‘never disappoint’ them, and that’s very gratifying to me. That’s what I was trying to express with this title, that sense of character. To stand for something principled.”
Vanessa Williams is one of the most respected and multi-faceted performers in entertainment today. She has conquered the musical charts, Broadway, music videos, television and motion pictures. She has sold millions of albums worldwide and has achieved critical acclaim as an actress on stage, in film and on television.
Her albums “The Right Stuff,” “The Comfort Zone and “The Sweetest Days” earned multiple Grammy nominations and have yielded such classic hits as “Save the Best For Last,” “Dreamin,” “Work To Do,” “Love Is,” and the Academy Award-winning single “Colors of the Wind.”. Concord Records released Vanessa’s, “The Real Thing,” in June 2009, for which she received a NAACP nomination for Outstanding Jazz Artist.
Vanessa has taken Broadway by storm when she replaced Chita Rivera in “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as the Witch in the revival of “Into the Woods.” She also headlined a limited special engagement of the classic, “Carmen Jones,” at the Kennedy Center and starred in the Encore! series staged concert production of “St. Louis Woman.” Vanessa returned to the stage in 2013 where she starred alongside Cicely Tyson in the Tony nominated play, “The Trip to Bountiful.”
Vanessa has starred in features such as “Eraser,” “Hoodlum,” “Soul Food,” “Dance With Me,” “Light It Up,” “Shaft” and Tyler Perry’s “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.” On television, in addition to many movies and mini-series, Vanessa starred in ABC’s critically-acclaimed hit series, “Ugly Betty,” earning three Emmy nominations in addition to numerous individual and ensemble awards and nominations, including SAG, Golden Globes and NAACP Image Awards. She spent time on Wisteria Lane on the 78th season of ABC’s long-running hit, “Desperate Housewives,” winning an NAACP Image Award. Other starring credits in the ABC supernatural drama “666 Park Avenue” and VH1’s “Daytime Divas.”
In 2007, Vanessa achieved a career pinnacle, with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her accomplishments as a performer.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Jeffrey Osborne was the youngest of 12 children and was surrounded by music as he was growing up. His father, Clarence “Legs” Osborne, was a popular trumpeter who sat in with the likes of Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington and turned down many top band offers during his career to be with his family; he passed away when Jeffrey was only 13. At the age of 15, Jeffrey sat in with the O’Jays when the drummer was unable to perform to their standards, and went on to play with them for two weeks. That was all the inspiration Osborne needed to pursue a musical career.
It was at another Providence nightclub that fate brought him together with the band Love Men Ltd. It was only after receiving his mother’s encouragement that Jeffrey left for Los Angeles to play with Love Men Ltd., who later changed their name to L.T.D. Osborne was originally brought on as the drummer and eventually became the lead vocalist. After more than ten years with the band, he decided to pursue a solo career, which produced such Top 40 hits as ” Really Don’t Need No Light”, Don’t You Get So Mad”, “Stay With Me Tonight”, “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song)” and a duet with Dionne Warwick, “Love Power.”
Osborne’s solo career has brought him four grammy nominations, five gold and platinum albums, including his debut self entitled album ” Jeffrey Osborne”, “Stay with Me Tonight” and “Only Human.” He scored an international hit with “On the Wings of Love” in 1982. His releases during the 2000s included ” That’s for Sure” (2000) and “Music Is Life” (2003), as well as cover albums ” From the Soul “(2005) and “A Time for Love” (2013). His latest project, “Worth It All” (2018), was written and produced by Jeffrey Osborne, with the exception of one song, ” Work It,” which was co-written and performed with his son Jeffrey Osborne Jr. This project, inspired by the late great George Duke has taken Osborne back to his deep R&B roots.
Currently Jeffrey Osborne is actively performing and touring around the world.
Brian Culbertson is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, writer and producer who crosses genres between contemporary jazz, R&B, and funk and heralds from the musically rich city of Chicago. Starting at the early age of 8 on piano, he quickly picked up several other instruments by age 12 including drums, trombone, bass, & euphonium. Inspired by the great R&B/Jazz/Pop artists of the 70’s like EWF, Tower of Power, Chicago, David Sanborn, and others, Brian Culbertson started composing original music for his 7th grade piano recital and hasn’t stopped having self-produced 16 solo albums, most of which have topped the Billboard charts. The acclaimed musician also founded the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway, a 5-day celebration of wine, food, art and music that draws big entertainers and devoted fans year after year. Brian is always striving to push the boundaries of the contemporary jazz scene which is evident by his latest album, Funk! This new set is a throwback to the stanky P-Funk records from back in the day combining the throbbing bass lines, greasy horn lines, sing-a-long choruses and landing hard on the ‘One.’
Having toured the world over and collaborated with some of the biggest names in music (think Prince, Van Morrison, Lionel Richie and Beyonce), Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer brings her worldly musical perspective to The Smooth Jazz Cruise. With solo album sales exceeding the 2.5 million mark, the staple on the large festival circuit performs for sold-out crowds throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Russia, the Baltic states and South America. Candy Dulfer’s hit, “Finsbury Park, Café 67,” ranked the most popular smooth jazz number on U.S. radio for a period in 2003, and the 1990 solo debut album she recorded at just 19, Saxuality, sold more than a million copies worldwide and earned a Grammy® nod.
The youngest of 13 children, Jonathan Butler grew up in poverty in Cape Town, South Africa, ruled by Apartheid and segregation. Butler began his singing career at age 7, releasing his first album in 1973 and winning the Best New Artist Grammy in South Africa the following year at age 12. He made history by being the first black artist played on white South African radio while earning three gold records (“Please Stay” went double gold and “I Love How You Love Me” went gold) in 1975 as he became a teenager.
More than a decade later, Butler moved to London, England and released his first album internationally. The self-titled set went gold in 1987 in the United Kingdom and in the USA. He received Grammy nominations for Best R&B Song for his R&B-pop vocal hit “Lies” and for Best Jazz Song for the instrumental “Going Home.” His genre-busting material earned songwriter’s awards and received abundant airplay in multiple radio formats: pop, urban, contemporary jazz, adult contemporary and gospel. Butler’s 2004 album, Surrender, went gold in South Africa where he remains a superstar.
Butler is still taking care of people back home. Last fall, he launched the Jonathan Butler Foundation in his native country to fund music education programs that give children the purpose to overcome a life of drugs and poverty just as he did. His music has purpose, providing comfort and genuine inspiration. When he sings, he testifies to the glory and healing power of love. When he plays guitar, his fast fingers innately find notes of passion and divinity. Jonathan Butler’s recording career has carried him far, far beyond his wildest dreams. He’s living his dream and that is a blessing for us all.
Alonzo Bodden will keep the ship rolling—in laughter. Bodden, who won Season 3 on NBC’s Last Comic Standing, is a regular on NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and “Comedy Congress,” as well as being a panelist on the Game Show Network’s “Mind of a Man.”
In 2011, he starred in the comedy special “Who’s Paying Attention” on Showtime, released a DVD, and hosts a podcast of the same name. That same year, he was a panelist on the syndicated show “Inside the Vault,” and voiced the character of Thunderon in the Power Rangers movie. Bodden has also hosted Speed Channel’s “101 Cars You Must Drive” and “America’s Worst Driver” on Travel Channel. Alonzo’s first big comedy break came when he was on the “New Faces of Comedy” showcase at industry festival, Just For Laughs in Montreal.
Alonzo has made the rounds on the late night television circuit including appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” and “The Keenen Ivory Wayans” show. His film credits include “Scary Movie 4,” “The Girl Next Door,” and “Bringing Down the House” starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. His latest television special was “Heavy Lightweight” on Amazon Prime.
Alonzo has traveled around the world entertaining USO troops from Iraq to Greenland.
GRAMMY® Award winning Contemporary Jazz/R&B superstar Norman Brown has sold close to 2 million albums in his extraordinary career and virtually lives at the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz sales and radio charts. For almost two decades, he has been on close intimate terms with his audience in an engaging, mutually rewarding relationship, with the multitalented guitarist, composer and singer offering tasty sonic tidbits of classic R&B and contemporary jazz and his fans melting into satisfied aural bliss with every succulent, jazz inflected note. Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, Brown first picked up a guitar at the age of 8. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix‟s mind-bending rock sounds, Brown soon discovered his father’s favorite artist, Wes Montgomery, and found his stylistic holy grail. He delivered his debut album, Just Between Us, in 1992, and followed with the gold-certified After The Storm and 1996’s Better Days Ahead. 2003’s Just Chillin’, earned Brown much-deserved recognition with a GRAMMY® Award in the best pop instrumental category. That project was followed by his 2005 release West Coast Coolin’, where Brown successfully tested out his skills as a vocalist. His latest album is 2019’s The Highest Act of Love.
Since his explosive arrival as a recording artist at the age of 17, saxophonist, composer, songwriter, producer, and vocalist Eric Darius’ star continues to rise straight to the top, with seven critically acclaimed albums under his belt, a Number One hit single, and Seven Top 10 radio hits on Nielsen’s R&R/Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts. Fearlessly pushing all musical boundaries, he is one of the most exciting musicians to enter the Contemporary Jazz scene in the last decade. Prophetically hailed Debut Artist of the Year by Smooth Jazz News in 2004, Eric has shared the stage with innumerable world renown, Grammy Award-winning artists, such as Prince, Jamie Foxx, Mary J. Blige, David Foster, Carlos Santana, Babyface, Wynton Marsalis & George Benson, just to name a few. His music innovatively crosses over all music boundaries from Jazz, R&B, Hip-Hop, to Pop, creating a very distinctive, fresh sound and approach that is uniquely his own.
Hailing from a musical family with rich traditions in Caribbean music (his father is from Haiti and his mother is from Jamaica), Eric realized his calling for music at an early age. As one of those musicians who was fortunate to benefit from music programs in the school system, he has made it a mission to pay it forward and spent a considerable amount of time exposing young students to music in the public school system with his On A Mission in the Schools campaign. Eric’s presence is also being felt in the entertainment world, whether he’s being featured on FOX’s hit TV show, The X Factor, or TNT’s hit drama series, Mob City. He continues to be an artist that knows no boundaries and a force that is unequalled in today’s musical landscape.
Imagine how the juices will flow on the high seas for saxophonist Richard Elliot, who says he gets much of his creative inspiration from behind the wheel of his car in L.A. traffic. The Scottish-born musician has been on the music scene for more than three decades and released his 17th solo album, “Lip Service,” in July 2014. The project features seven original compositions along with three covers of soul and pop hits from the 80s (“Shining Star” by The Manhattans), 90s (“Anytime” by Brian McKnight) and present day (“When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars). Richard Elliot got his start at age 19 with the Chapman Stick-based quartet Kittyhawk, played in soul band Tower of Power in the 80s and has continued topping the charts and touring the world as both solo artist and with innovative groups like Guitars & Saxes and, most recently, Summer Horns (comprised of Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright and Dave Koz).
Driven by the ever-evolving musical vision of core members – Brothers Eric and Billy Mondragon and close family friend Damon Reel – Southern California’s premiere R&B, funk and contemporary powerhouse band DW3’s deepening artistry continues to transcend a well-earned reputation as a high energy, fun and freewheeling party band. Eric, Billy and Damon all contribute lead and harmony vocals, while Eric plays keys (including synth horns and strings) and Billy adds percussion.
Building on the success of their single, “I Got You” featuring Gerald Albright, (#16 on the Billboard charts) and the “On The Floor” album that went #1 on the UK soul charts, DW3 has now expanded to nine a piece ensemble. The addition of a horn section really sets the tone for their live shows. The truth is in the twelve tracks of their “Vintage Truth” CD.
The band also continues to entertain Festival and Entertainment Cruise Productions guests several times a year. The versatile ensemble is rapidly emerging as a multi-faceted recording outfit in their own right.
Euge Groove, a pseudonym for saxophone journeyman Steve Grove, began playing piano in the second grade and turned to the saxophone at age nine. Attending the University of Miami’s School of Music, he became interested in jazz and moved to Los Angeles after graduation and joined Tower of Power. His wide ranging musical tastes, impeccable musicianship and keen showmanship led him to work with artists such as Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Eurythmics, Huey Lewis & the News, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, and Richard Marx. He released his debut album Euge Groove in 2000 and recently released his eleventh solo project, Groove On. His albums and singles have unfailingly been number one radio hits and charted on various charts, including Billboard and R&R. A quadruple threat, the saxophonist, composer, producer and DJ has built an impressive career as a free spirit who remains true to his own artistic vision and promises he has no intentions other than to Groove On! With multiple Smooth Jazz Cruise appearances already, Euge is looking forward to sharing his music on the seas with everyone.
Creating provocative album titles that give insight into his current musical state of mind, Nick Colionne has done it all in his multi-faceted career. He’s mastered the art of Keepin’ It Cool (2006), transcended musical boundaries to explore realms where there are No Limits (2008), fired up his thousands of worldwide fans with Feel the Heat (2011) and dug deep into his musical soul to share some of his deepest jazz and R&B Influences (2014). While keeping up his whirlwind pace of 75-plus shows per year as one of the genre’s most tireless and explosive live performers, he made history with his 2016 collection The Journey – becoming the only artist in the history of the format to score five consecutive #1 singles on the Billboard Smooth Jazz National Airplay and Smooth Jazz Songs charts from a single album. His 2018 Trippin’ ‘N’ Rhythm album is Just Being Me; its lead single is “Be Urself,” produced by Chris “Big Dog” Davis has already climbed to the top of the charts.
The recipient of the 1996 Malcom X College Alumnus of the Year Award (he earned his degree there in music), Nick has received numerous accolades throughout his multi-faceted career, including the 2007 International Instrumental Artist of the Year Award at the Wave Jazz Awards, where he succeeded 2006 winner Chris Botti. He was also chosen Artist of the Year at the 2011 Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival and Performer of the Year for Jazz Trax Jazz Festivals in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, Nick was nominated as Guitarist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year by the American Smooth Jazz Awards and received the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award for his ongoing commitment to mentoring children, his work in the community and nationally in support of breast cancer causes.
Twenty-something music prodigy Vincent Ingala is no stranger to contemporary jazz audiences. His heartfelt, sweet and soulful mix has catapulted him to the top of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts, garnering him three Billboard #1s, and eight top 10 hits. He burst on the contemporary jazz scene in 2010 with the release of his critically heralded debut North End Soul. Two years later Ingala was crowned Billboard “Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year” and Sirius XM Watercolors “Breakthrough Artist Of The Year” in 2013. Ingala’s sophomore recording, Can’t Stop Now, was released in 2012 and Coast To Coast followed in 2015, featuring two singles that hit number one on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart. Ingala is also a DJ on Smooth Jazz 24/7 where he can be heard weekly. With the release of his fifth solo recording Personal Touch, a collection of eight stirring original tracks and two surprising reinventions of R&B chestnuts, Vincent Ingala further asserts himself as one of the most exciting artists in contemporary jazz.
An unequivocal musical prodigy, singer-saxophonist-songwriter-composer and band leader Grace Kelly has rocked the jazz world with sold-out concerts, 13 acclaimed albums and a resume that includes performing at the Hollywood Bowl and as part of the house band for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” – all before reaching her mid-twenties.
Kelly’s early career featured performances at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration at age 16 and at 14 as a soloist with the Boston Pops playing an original composition arranged for the legendary orchestra; she has since then played over 900 shows as bandleader in 35 countries at venues like the Kennedy Center and Moscow Symphony Hall and for the Montreal, Newport, and Montreux international jazz festivals. Touted for her scorching saxophone stylings and purring vocals, Kelly has performed and recorded with renowned artists including Lin Manuel- Miranda, Dave Brubeck, Phil Woods, Huey Lewis, Harry Connick Jr., Gloria Estefan, Questlove, and Wynton Marsalis.
As the Winner of “Song of the Year” for her single “Feels Like Home” in the 2018 John Lennon Songwriting Contest, Kelly has also won multiple ASCAP Composer Awards, Boston Music Awards, multiple DOWNBEAT music awards, International Songwriting Awards, and has also appeared as a featured performer in films and television.Featured by Vanity Fair as a millennial shaking up the jazz world, Kelly’s state-of-the-art brand of electro jazz-pop and inventive digital content are pushing her to the forefront of the fusion scene.
Aside from thrilling audiences in concert, Kelly’s stardom reaches the acclaim of her audiences online. The millennial artist has developed a new paradigm to exhibit her remarkable talent and unparalleled showmanship with the masses, curating an immersive user experience for her fans across multiple social media platforms. Kelly’s dedication to posting engaging content and offering insight into her daily life has deepened her brand, bringing thousands upon thousands of eager fans into her world and gaining millions of views online, allowing the artist to bridge the gap between virtuosic musician and cultural phenomenon.
Soulful, passionate, stirring … these are the words most often used to describe Grammy winner Kirk Whalum’s music. Forged from his Memphis gospel roots and his 1980s initiation into the thriving Houston nightclub scene, Kirk’s big, rich tenor sound is unmistakably his. It was also in Houston where jazz pianist Bob James “discovered” him and brought him on tour, which led to five successful albums including “Cache,” Kirk’s first #1 album. Kirk and Bob received a Grammy nomination for their collaboration album, “Joined at the Hip.” After moving to Los Angeles, Kirk became an in-demand session player for top artists like Barbra Streisand, Al Jarreau, Luther Vandross, Larry Carlton, Quincy Jones and, most notably, Whitney Houston, amongst many others. It’s his sax heard on the mega-hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Kirk soon followed that career high point with his phenomenal hit album, “For You,” released on Warner Bros. Records. Kirk, now a headlining solo artist touring the world, released his latest album, Humanité, in October 2019.
New Orleans-born Michael “Patches” Stewart blows from the summit of today’s trumpet players. Patches made his major recording debut at 16 playing in the horn section on LaBelle’s Allen Toussaint-produced classic “Lady Marmalade” in 1974. Upon high school graduation he passed on scholarships on the table from Berklee School of Music to head to Los Angeles and get busy. Patches grabbed the attention of the great Quincy Jones who took him on tour behind his The Dude LP in the early `80s. This was followed by work with artists ranging from English groove collective Soul II Soul to bohemian rocker Rickie Lee Jones to soulful divas Diana Ross and Whitney Houston. Patches’ first recordings as a leader were for the Hip Bop label: the acoustic jazz standards project Blue Patches (1997) and the electrified Penetration (1998). He is most vividly recalled for the 8 years he spent on the road with Al Jarreau followed by 16 years in the cutting edge band of bass chameleon Marcus Miller, who was heavily instrumental in the making of Patches’ third CD, Blow (2005).
Patches was extensively mentored by the great George Duke who he often recorded with – from the boundary smashing legend’s 1993 symphonic project Muir Woods Suite, all the way up to playing on four selections from Duke’s final album in 2013, DreamWeaver. Patches’ most recent recording is On Fire, documenting a scintillating wood-shedding collaboration between musicians in Warsaw, Poland (where Patches has lived for the last couple of years) with key American compatriots such as saxophonist Kenny Garrett, vocalist Raul Midón, drummer Poogie Bell and guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr.
Eric Marienthal has won 2 Grammy Awards and has been nominated 8 times as a member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. Having performed in over 75 countries and played on hundreds of CD’s films and TV shows, Eric has also recorded 14 solo CD’s including his latest entitled “Bridges” with guitarist Chuck Loeb. Eric’s CD’s have produced several top 10 radio singles including three #1’s. Eric is the recipient of the Berklee College Of Music Distinguished Alumnus Award for outstanding achievements in contemporary music. Eric was also named one of the top 3 alto saxophonists in Jazziz Magazine’s Reader’s Poll along with Phil Woods and David Sanborn. For the past 19 years Eric has organized an annual charity concert for the High Hopes Head Injury Program in Tustin, CA. These concerts have raised awareness for this great organization and have raised over 2 million dollars.