Without Anita E. Berry, there would be no jazz cruises at all.
Entertainment Cruise Productions
Marcus Marcus & Lee Ritenour
Our Take: Music, Music, Music
Last Saturday saw the culmination of The Smooth Jazz Cruise '19.1, a truly fun week at sea highlighted by performances by our Hosts Marcus Miller and Boney James and our very special guests Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour and Lalah Hathaway. We always have a great time on this cruise, but, on this sailing, the party aspects were overshadowed by the amazing musical performances. Brian Culbertson wowed the guests as well and we saw the return of Jonathan Butler and his teaming with Kirk Whalum for a powerhouse Gospel Show. Candy Dulfer and Nick Colionne had a clothes-changing throwdown and created great music. Eric Darius, Najee, Eric Marienthal, Patches Stewart and all the bands were stellar. A special thanks goes to Alonzo Bodden who, once again, served as the Cruise Director.

Coming home after nearly 6 weeks at sea was daunting, a task made even more miserable by an ice storm on Sunday morning. How bad was it? Well, they canceled my Sunday morning tennis game (indoors). For those who know me well, it takes a lot for that to happen and I was appropriately glum for most of the day. But despite the inclement weather, I made sure that I visited my mother that day. After all, without her, there would be no jazz cruises at all.
Most of you know that Mom was the first person in the world to charter a full ship for jazz. That program, The Jazz Cruise, will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2020. Mom will be 90 later this year, so you can do the math as to when she started that program. I brought her a T-shirt from The Jazz Cruise, along with a Souvenir Program, the all-purpose mug and some of the Daily Programs. Mom suffers from a degree of dementia, but when properly excited, she can be quite lucid. Looking at the materials for The Jazz Cruise provided the needed spark. It did not last long, but you could see her light up.
Right now, I am in California at the Newport Beach Jazz Party. The lineup is wonderful, filled with many of my favorite performers and friends.  Spending time with Shelly Berg, John Clayton, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Hamilton and Arturo Sandoval is a treat for me. Many of these performers have been in my life for more than a decade and I met all of them through The Jazz CruiseThe Jazz Cruise led to The Smooth Jazz Cruise and to all the other programs we have been fortunate enough to produce. It also led to my love of jazz.

You know where I am going, right? Mom knew what she was doing when she took that leap and chartered a 1,245-passenger ship from Holland America Line for a 2001 sailing. Yes, there was a lot of risk involved and some very astute jazz promoters thought it was folly to do so. The difference between being right and being wrong is often measured in hard work, dedication and love of the undertaking. By those standards, she was destined to win. Watching someone with that amount of guile, guts and grace fade away before your eyes is difficult to absorb, but her legacy, The Jazz Cruise, will continue to shine brightly as long as I can continue to make it work and, hopefully, long after that. 

There are so many touching stories in the world of jazz. Something about jazz opens hearts and minds, inspires greatness and soothes sorrow. Thank you Mom for paving the way so that I could enter the world of jazz and reap all the benefits that a life in jazz can provide.

Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of Entertainment Cruise Productions. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at michael@ecpcruises.com.
Congrats to Cecile McLorin Salvant!
Putting the Spotlight on Jazz
at the Grammys

Congrats to Terence Blanchard!
If you missed the Grammy Awards show last Sunday night on CBS, you wouldn't have missed any jazz at all. For many years now, the awards in the jazz and other less commercial categories are presented in a pre-telecast ceremony that is webcast online during the day. That show ends up being the awards show many of us who love jazz would have preferred in primetime.

Among the hosts for that ceremony was Cécile McLorin Salvant, who later received a Grammy in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for The Window, her duo album with Sullivan Fortner. Cecile and Sullivan, who sailed on Blue Note at Sea '19, were joined in that category by Kurt Elling, Raul Midón and Freddy Cole, three veterans of our jazz cruises. Terence Blanchard, another Blue Note at Sea artist, won in the Best Instrumental Composition category for "Blut Und Boden" from the Spike Lee film "Blackkklansman." Terence was also nominated for an Oscar for the score to that film. That award would move Terence halfway to an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).

In the true spirit of the jazz cruises, we want to congratulate all of our friends who received nominations, including Kurt, Raul, Gregory Porter, Marcus Miller, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Lalah Hathaway.

It is indeed an honor to be nominated for this prestigious award. We're honored that they have performed on Blue Note at Sea, The Jazz Cruise and The Smooth Jazz Cruise and we're excited to sail with more award-winning musicians again next year as well.
The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.1 & '20.2
That the 2020 sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise will be fully reserved is not news. The sailings sell out every year, but we do not recall a sellout occurring before the completion of the prior year's sailings. By all accounts, the few remaining staterooms on The Smooth Jazz Cruise for 2020 will be reserved before the end of The Smooth Jazz Cruise '19.2.

At this time, a handful of Inside Staterooms remain on both of the 2020 sailings. No other categories have inventory on The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.2. The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20.1 does have some staterooms with Verandas and some Ocean View Staterooms, but not many.

A word to the wise: Reserve your stateroom now before SJC '19.2 sails.
Dianne Reeves at SFJAZZ 
The Jazz Cruise '20 headliner Dianne Reeves brings two special shows to SFJAZZ for a four-night run in Miner Auditorium later this month.

"Music of Brazil" featuring her special guest Ivan Lins will be performed February 21 and 22. "Music of Bridges" in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the album by that title will be performed February 23 and 24.
David Sanborn at the Blue Note in NYC
David Sanborn has hosted his Night Music-inspired variety show on Blue Note at Sea for the last three years. Those often spontaneous and always entertaining sets have been the highlight of the cruise for many of our discerning guests.

David is bringing his band to the Blue Note in NYC for six nights starting on February 19. Catch him there with his top-shelf band of Geoffrey Keezer, Wycliffe Gordon, Ben Williams and Billy Kilson.