Recently, we shared our belief that the Blue Note at Sea Experience is special because it is the sum of many beautiful elements, creating a musical mosaic like no other.
Mosaic Element #1 was our amazing lineup of main show headliners (Marcus Miller, Robert Glasper, Chris Botti, Sheila E, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Christian McBride, Brad Mehldau, David Sanborn). Nowhere else in the world is there a gathering of such top musicians, not just for an evening, but for days at a time.
Equally stunning is the long and fabulous list of Featured Performers, each of whom is a star. Let’s take a minute and run through Mosaic Element #2: Our All-Star Lineup of Featured Performers. With so much talent to discuss, it is best to present these performers in alphabetical order:
Since arriving on the international jazz scene in 2010, the charismatic vocalist Cyrille Aimee has been wowing audiences at festivals, concert halls and clubs with her dynamic performances. Whether she’s backed by a top-notch band or accompanied by Rupert, her trusty looping machine, Cyrille never fails to entertain with her original compositions or clever arrangements of pop and jazz tunes.
Led by the husband-and-wife team of drummer Marcus and vocalist Jean Baylor, The Baylor Project brings together their roots in gospel with their jazz chops and influences to produce a unique sound that connects with multiple generations of jazz fans.
Is there a jazz musician who has played at a high level at so many different genres of the music? Big band, Brazilian, bebop, funk, fusion…you name it, Randy Brecker has played it. As someone who can fit and even shine in any configuration, Randy well represents the musical mosaic that is Blue Note at Sea.
As part of one of the great jazz families, Gerald Clayton has been making great music since he was a teenager. A veteran of both The Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea sailings, the gifted pianist has earned the respect of both audiences and his fellow musicians.
Because Emmet Cohen first played on The Jazz Cruise when he was just a teenaged college student, we like to take credit for his ensuing success. But of course, his own talent and perseverance are entirely responsible for his emergence as one the music’s most acclaimed pianists, who has been embraced equally by his peers and elders.
Perhaps you saw Damien Escobar when he appeared with his brother in the Nuttin but Stringz on America’s Got Talent. Or maybe you saw him on tour with Oprah Winfrey. Or you may have seen him more recently on one of The Smooth Jazz Cruise sailings. How about his appearance on The Today Show? No doubt about it, the renowned violinist has showcased his special talents across multiple platforms.
Hailing from Philadelphia, which has produced many of the greatest bassists in jazz, Derrick Hodge has forged his own path as a vibrant musician, bandleader, composer and producer. His three recordings for Blue Note have received that rare combination of critical acclaim and commercial success.
When Jose James brought his Bill Withers tribute project to Blue Note at Sea, every venue he and his band performed in was packed with audiences who, without prompting, sang along. But that music represents just one side of this multi-faceted and original singer, who can sing straight ahead jazz, funk, soul, blues or just about anything, making him a perfect performer for the cruise where GREAT MUSIC is the ONLY RULE.
Blue Note recording artist Julian Lage, a former child prodigy, first sailed with us when he was a teenager as a member of Gary Burton’s band. In the subsequent years, the guitarist has become one of the most acclaimed musicians of his generation, collaborating with greats in jazz and roots music, as well as leading his own groups.
The music man behind the curtain, Blue Note at Sea music director Eric Marienthal does a lot more than help put the mosaic pieces together. The saxophonist has been an all-star on the contemporary jazz scene since his early years with the influential Chick Corea Elektric Band in the 80s. Eric’s latest album, Double Dealin’, co-led by longtime associate Randy Brecker was nominated for a Grammy award, something Eric has accomplished nearly a dozen times in his impressive career.
Quick, name a jazz musician who plays drums and sings. If you didn’t suggest Jamison Ross, you’re missing one of the most exciting young musicians to come along in a while. Jamison won the prestigious Monk Competition as a drummer, but also has considerable gifts as a vocalist. A first-timer to our cruises, he’s just been named a member of the high-profile Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour group.
As a member of one of the great families in New Orleans music, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah grew up immersed in the brass bands and jazz groups of that storied city. With more than a dozen albums released under his leadership, the trumpeter calls his sound Stretch Music because it attempts to expand jazz’s convention to encompass multiple musical forms, languages and cultures.
Having previously sailed with us as a member of Christian McBride’s band and the SFJAZZ Collective, Warren Wolf is no stranger to our audiences. He’s even gotten razzed by Alonzo Bodden during one of our resident comedian’s sets. All in good fun. Although known primarily as a virtuoso on the vibraphone, Wolf can also play piano and drums, as well as sing, and all at a high level.
Each of these performers will headline their own shows as well as collaborate with our headliners and other Featured Performers. Part of the Blue Note at Sea Experience is to share in their versatility and their joy in mixing and matching with their fellow musicians.
Being able to see and hear world class musicians of this caliber together in settings and configurations that are conceived for this cruise and may or may not occur again is one of the most glorious pieces of our musical mosaic.
Yes, there will be many more mosaic pieces needed before our picture is complete, but our All Star Featured Performers is one of the most cherished.