Preview: Jazz goes cruising

Two jazz cruises, Blue Note At Sea and The Jazz Cruise, sail from Florida next January with line-ups featuring some of the music’s greatest names

The Jazz Cruise is the first of the ocean-going jazz trips, leaving Fort Lauderdale on 19 January 2019, sailing to St Croix, San Juan and Labadee on the Celebrity Infinity before returning to port on 26 January.

The cruise is aimed at straightahead jazz fans, with over 100 musicians performing in various configurations for more than 250 hours of music during this “jazz festival at sea”. The performers include the Chucho Valdes Quartet, Joey Alexander, Benny Golson, Mary Stallings, Cyrille Aimée (pictured right), Eliane Elias, Joey DeFrancesco, Randy Brecker, the John Pizzarelli Quartet, Houston Person, Etienne Charles, Ken Peplowski, Wycliffe Gordon, Gary Smulyan and Shelly Berg, who also takes on the role of music director.

Says Berg, “The experience for the patrons and music artists can’t be replicated anywhere else. There is an intimacy that festivals can’t achieve, and a grandeur that jazz clubs can’t accommodate. The one-of-a-kind pairings are historic. It is the greatest way for a jazz fan to spend a week".

After a quick turnaround, the Celebrity Infinity leaves Fort Lauderdale again on 26 January, this time with Blue Note At Sea on board. The ship will sail to Nassau, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Key West and returns to the port of departure on 2 February.

Blue Note At Sea is billed as The Now of Jazz and will be hosted by bassist Marcus Miller (pictured left on the 2018 cruise), keyboard player Robert Glasper and Blue Note Records President Don Was. Thirty musicians will take part, including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Cécile Mclorin Salvant, Kurt Elling, David Sanborn, Terence Blanchard, Christian Scott, Jason Moran, José James, Candy Dulfer, Kandace Springs, Wycliffe Gordon, R+R=NOW, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin, Logan Richardson, Geoffrey Keezer, Nasheet Waits and Luques Curtis. David Sanborn will lead the Blue Note At Sea House Band on four nights, with "pop-in" performances from other cruise musicians.

“Pairing the Blue Note legacy with these legendary and immensely talented artists is the ultimate dream to jazz fans", says Marcus Miller. “And for the musicians, it’s like nothing else. We get to hang out and jam with each other throughout the week and meet hundreds of true jazz fans. What could be better?”

Both cruises promise that the musicians will take part in Q&A sessions, interviews and conversations. The Jazz Cruise also promises light-hearted events featuring the musicians, such as Name That Tune quiz sessions.

Ticket prices for Blue Note At Sea start at $2,000. Tickets for The Jazz Cruise start from $2,200. In both cases this is for double occupancy of a cabin and includes entry to concerts and other events as well as meals.

For more details and bookings go to The Jazz Cruise website or the Blue Note At Sea website

Bruce Lindsay

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