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Experience


ORIGINS OF BLUE NOTE AT SEA

Since 2001, Entertainment Cruise Productions has been the world leader in live jazz entertainment at sea, having produced nearly 70 full-ship charter jazz cruises all over the world, including The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, North Sea Jazz Cruise, Playboy Jazz Cruise, The Signature Jazz Cruise and Dave Koz at Sea Cruise.

The Jazz Cruise, the first and only full-ship charter dedicated to “straight ahead” jazz, has been sailing continuously since 2001 and is now one of the most important “straight ahead” jazz events in the world. The Smooth Jazz Cruise has presented the best of “smooth jazz” since 2004. During that time, the program has sailed 24 times and regularly sells out a year in advance.

For more than a decade, Entertainment Cruise Productions has created cruise programs for those who enjoy jazz, but whose taste is neither singularly “smooth” nor “straight ahead.” There is a huge center sector in the world of jazz, where some of the hippest, most exciting and current performers reside. Entertainment Cruise Productions’ first effort in this genre was the North Sea Jazz Cruise and was later tried in the form of the Playboy Jazz Cruise. Both programs were amazing musical successes, but for several reasons, the programs did not penetrate the needed markets.

Over the years, Entertainment Cruise Productions has had the opportunity to meet and work with two titans of the jazz world: Don Was, President of Blue Note Records, and Steven Bensusan, President of Blue Note Jazz Clubs. Though their companies are unrelated, they do share a common name and mission and have worked with each other on special projects. Both groups operate in that center section of the jazz world that ECP had hoped to attract with the North Sea and Playboy Jazz Cruises.

Informal discussions led to an arrangement whereby Blue Note Records and Blue Note Jazz Clubs would collaborate with Entertainment Cruise Productions to produce the Blue Note at Sea Jazz Program. Calling out the name “Blue Note” was done so to acknowledge that this cruise would be a hip jazz program and that the talent and production would be of the highest caliber, all in the spirit of this iconic jazz brand, Blue Note.

Working together, we have been able to create an amazing cruise program featuring the top names in jazz, together with amazing events, great programs, luxurious dining and amenities, and more. Clearly, we have been able to produce “The MUSIC Event of the SEASon!”


SELECTION OF MUSICIANS

Selecting the performers for Blue Note at Sea is an arduous task. We wanted hip, but not inaccessible. Cool, but not too introverted. Stylish, without being overly indulgent. We are very proud and excited to present the lineup that we have for Blue Note At Sea, which includes Hosts Marcus Miller, Robert Glasper and Don Was, and headliners Chris Botti, Christian McBride, Sheila E., David Sanborn, Take 6, Keb' Mo', John Scofield, The Baylor Project and Lizz Wright. In all, there will be around 75 amazing musicians performing throughout the week.

This outstanding lineup reflects our mission to present the “hippest and coolest” music in the world and reflects our desire to offer a cruise program where “GREAT MUSIC IS THE ONLY RULE!”


SHOW STYLE PRESENTATION

Nightly Main Shows Each night there will be two main shows in Celebrity Theater, the largest venue on the ship. Half of our guests will attend the first show and then will enjoy dinner either in the main dining room (The Trellis Restaurant) or one of the several specialty restaurants on the ship) while the other half of our guests dine first and then attend the 2nd Show. The Nightly Main Shows feature the headliners and stars of the cruise.

Cruising After Dark Entertainment Cruise Productions is renowned for creating unique and fun programming during the late-night portion of the evening. Around 10:30 pm or so each night, all guests have had dinner and have seen the Main Show. On all Entertainment Cruise Production cruises, that signals the commencement of Cruising After Dark, where we present various forms of entertainment in multiple venues:

  • Rendezvous Lounge – This intimate lounge, strategically located between The Trellis Restaurant and the Celebrity Theater, features small group performances, solo piano players and exciting new acts that we will be presenting as part of the cruise program.
  • Constellation Lounge – Sitting on the top deck of the ship, this spacious lounge, with its panoramic views, can feature top comedy, larger groups, dancing, and is the home of our late-night jam sessions.
  • Celebrity Theater – The Celebrity Theater, the major venue on the ship, is lovely, comfortable and provides great sight lines, great staging and great sound. Besides being the venue for the Nightly Main Shows, the theater is also used for shows that attract a broad audience or performers who need the full stage for their presentation. Highly anticipated events that are “one-offs” are typically performed in the Celebrity Theater during the day and late at night.
  • Blue Note Jazz Club at The Trellis Restaurant – The Trellis Restaurant is so lovely as a main dining room that we knew we had to convert this space into an amazing jazz club for both afternoon and late-night shows and events. With a stage that we build and a cabaret-style seating plan, we converted the room into a Blue Note Jazz Club at sea where you can sit back, have a drink or dessert, and enjoy the music.

SPECIAL, DAYTIME AND LATE-NIGHT PROGRAMMING

Though the Nightly Main Shows attract the most attention, the programming for the cruise has hours and hours of special, daytime and late-night programming.

    These programs and events fall into three categories:
  • Unique Concerts: Music shows featuring our headliners, featured performers and featured musicians. Literally, there are more than 150 hours of live music on the cruise… and all of it is GREAT.
  • Learn: A series of in-depth interviews and Q & A Sessions hosted by Don Was, Mark Ruffin, Christian McBride and Marcus Miller designed to allow our guests to learn more about these jazz superstars in the most personal way.
  • Enjoy: Sometimes you just must have fun. We try to create programs and events that include our performers where we can just enjoy ourselves, laugh, imbibe and relax. We have some great, great activities for 2020.
Unique Concerts

Night Music with David Sanborn — One of our programs as part of Cruising After Dark is Night Music with David Sanborn. Since the inception of the cruise, we have been able to recreate the iconic Night Music show on Blue Note at Sea. “Michelob Presents Night Music,” initially named Sunday Night, was a late-night TV show which aired between 1988 and 1990 as a showcase for jazz and eclectic musical artists. It was hosted by Jools Holland and our very own David Sanborn, and featured Marcus Miller as musical director. Guests included acts such as Sonny Rollins, Shinehead, Sister Carol, Sonic Youth, Richard Thompson, Jo-El Sonnier, Joe Sample, Slim Gaillard, Elliott Sharp, Pere Ubu, Pharoah Sanders, and many others. In addition, vintage clips of jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, and Billie Holiday were also featured.

The show featured a house band and allowed its guests ample time to explain the origins of their sound, meaning of songs, etc. It also provided a national audience for lesser known, but highly talented acts. On the cruise, David Sanborn will lead the Blue Note at Sea House Band, comprised of Billy Kilson (drums), Geoffrey Keezer (piano), Ben Williams (bass) and Wycliffe Gordon (trombone) for four nights of amazing music featuring them as well as pop-in performances by the stars of the cruise. There will be a lot of set tunes, but there will be a lot of jamming as well. David will also take some time to speak with our special guests, share insights and provide our guests with a behind-the-scenes view into the world of jazz from the days of Night Music through today.

Late Night Shows in Blue Note at The Trellis Restaurant and in Constellation — Both venues transform seamlessly into quintessential jazz clubs, complete with cool bars, comfortable seating, great staging and room for dancing. Each night one or both venues will be the locale for very hip shows. Night Music with David Sanborn will be located in Blue Note at The Trellis Restaurant. Unique shows headlined by Marcus Miller and Robert Glasper will jump between both venues, while shows featuring Melody Gardot and Robert Glasper will be held in Constellation. Constellation will be the spot where Christian McBride will park his sound late night and he will curate some amazing shows as well.

Unique Concerts While At Sea — On days when we are at sea, the level of Unique Concert events skyrockets to the point where there is always live music being performed somewhere on the ship.

Learn When asked to differentiate the Cruise Experience from on land events, the ability to meet and learn about these superstars over a 7-day cruise week is among the most significant distinguishing features. Fortunately, we have four highly skilled interviewers, each with their own show on SXM’s Real Jazz (Don Was, Marcus Miller, Mark Ruffin and Christian McBride). They will take turns interviewing our performers, and each other, during which time you will be able to ask questions and meet these stars. Trust us, this is an amazing element of the cruise and one that cannot be duplicated on land to this degree.

Enjoy Sometimes we present events on the cruise just to have fun. We are skeptical of sharing too much of this now as it undermines the surprise element, but here are three types of events we produce, just for the sheer enjoyment of doing so.

Game Shows — One of the runaway hits of the last cruise was a Family Feud-type show pitting Robert Glasper and his band against Marcus Miller and his band. It was hilarious and the teams are gearing up for a rematch.

Cocktail, Wine, Food Events — No cool jazz program would be complete without cocktails, wine and food. Blue Note at Sea takes that to another level by pairing these events with performers who serve as hosts. It may be a Happy Hour Hang or a fine dining experience, but you can be there with your favorite performer.

The Comedy of Alonzo Bodden — Alonzo Bodden, winner of Season Three of Last Comic Standing and the Comedian-in-Chief of Entertainment Cruise Productions, will perform his hilarious show for an additional two nights of Cruising After Dark in the Main Lounge. Besides Alonzo’s humorous and pointed comments and observations about today’s events and the various humorous ways of the public, Alonzo is always able to comment (a polite word for roast) upon the ups and downs of the cruise itself. Famous for taking the performers to task, some of the very best people watching can be found during an Alonzo Bodden comedy show.