What jazz type are you? And, do you really care?
Entertainment Cruise Productions
Our Take:
What Is Your Jazz Label?

The jazz world loves labels. You would think that this genre would be among the most free flowing of all music interest groups, but defining your type of jazz is and has been a cottage industry of sorts. Cool, Be-Bop, Hard Bop, Acid, Avant-Garde, Smooth, Mainstream, Straight Ahead, Dixieland. The list is endless.
Two questions should pop into your mind. What type are you? And, do you really care? Let's explore the first question and if we find that the category distinction is important, then we will have our answer to the second question.

In determining what type of jazz fan you are, you should turn to that icon of jazz, Aesop! Besides spending time on his fables, Aesop was waxing eloquently on other subjects. The phrase "a man is known by the company he keeps" is attributed to him. You are probably wondering how this relates to jazz types, but I believe that your choice of musicians and song types is how you are "known" in the jazz world. As the producer of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea, I am attracted to, and involved with, a broad spectrum of jazz, which makes my "type" difficult to ascertain. For those who believe that this is a cop out to avoid alienating some of our jazz fans, then you win! Not going there.
"In the end, I do not care about labels."
But I will discuss how our fan base is divided and how that defines them. One large segment is the vocal-driven group. "If it sings, then it brings" is their motto. Being drawn to vocalists is how many became involved with jazz. Folks love the standards, particularly if they are played as originally written, but it was the jazz versions of those tunes that have drawn many into jazz and to have an appreciation of the instrumental interpretations. Those are the gold nuggets of the music, but not everyone can go from 0 to Coltrane in 60 seconds. There are some stops along the way that make the journey possible.
Some of our fans love the instrumentals, but want them played in the traditional (Straight Ahead) manner. I enjoy that as well. There is a nostalgic element to this type of music and it's very important to keep the music alive, but the number of people who can legitimately participate in the nostalgia of the 30s, 40s and 50s reduces every year. Keeping this element fresh is a battle.
Then there is the "I'm Cool with The Cool" level of jazz. These folks appreciate Miles, Herbie, Wayne and the other innovators who took Be-Bop, deconstructed it and built it back in an original manner for those times. Those folks still require a melody of some type, but it does not have to be a familiar melody and can be a familiar tune rearranged for today. 
Then we have fans who are willing to go to the next step. The "What's Next" in jazz. In this camp, there are no rules and perhaps no boundaries. The music is unconventional, even harsh at times. In all levels, there are good and bad examples, but the "What's Next" camp has the biggest extremes. There is some stuff that just blows me away and then there is stuff that makes me run away.
My tastes include a huge chunk of "Straight Ahead," a large piece of "Cool" and a generous sprinkling of "What's Next." Under the Aesop test, that makes me a Jazz Mutt as the company I keep is a crossbreed of tastes and experiences. Now, do I care about my jazz label? At times, yes. My jazz knowledge lacks depth, making it difficult for me to fully appreciate any one category.

Then, of course, I also enjoy, very much, the music and performances of the artists on The Smooth Jazz Cruise. Whether that music fits into this analysis is the subject of another column. Though I have said many times that the music on The Smooth Jazz Cruise holds up on its own very well without regard to any place in the jazz world labels. As a hint to my thoughts, I believe that this music can be part of the 0 to Coltrane analysis.
In the end, I do not care about labels. I care about music. Last weekend I was at the Newport Beach Jazz Party, a fabulous "straight ahead" jazz program. I am, right now, on Day 1 of The Smooth Jazz Cruise '19.2. I am finalizing the lineup for Blue Note at Sea '20. I am trying to curate a jazz show for Las Vegas and one for St. Louis. During the course of these divergent efforts, there will be music I love and music that I will not like. "Good" and "Bad." Maybe those are the only labels that matter.

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.
Remembering The Jazz Cruise '19
The Jazz Cruise '20!
Stay tuned next week for the announcement that the photos and our internally created video from The Jazz Cruise '19 will be ready for viewing. You will receive complete and easy-to-follow downloading instructions for both.

Literally hundreds of professional photos will be available to you for viewing, downloading, sending and printing. No cost or fees required
Launching Blue Note at Sea '20
Blue Note at Sea '20!
Though staterooms are on sale for Blue Note at Sea '20 and have been reserved at the highest level ever, the official "launch" of the cruise is scheduled for March 14.

Check out the website and be on the lookout for other materials that are headed your way. Blue Note at Sea '20 features The Top Cats of jazz and the cruise will definitely be The Hippest and Coolest Jazz Event of the SEASon!
Cyrille Aimee Sings Sondheim at Birdland
One of our very favorite performers is the acclaimed vocalist Cyrille Aimée, who wowed guests on The Jazz Cruise last month and will be sailing on Blue Note at Sea in 2020. You heard that here first (and more exciting lineup announcements for Blue Note at Sea '20 are coming March 14)!

Those of you in the New York City area don't have to wait until Blue Note at Sea '20. You will get an opportunity to see Cyrille work her magic for five nights at Birdland, starting on Tuesday, February 26. Cyrille will be performing material from her new album – Move On: A Sondheim Adventure – which is being released today on Mack Avenue Records.
Dave McMurray Releases New Video
Dave McMurray, a newly announced special performer on The Smooth Jazz Cruise '20, has released a new video for "Freedom Ain't Free." The song is on McMurray's debut album with Blue Note RecordsMusic Is Life

McMurray's groove-based modern jazz bristles with unalloyed soul. “I wanted it to have the spirit of a funk record,” he said. “I can just hold the melody down or go anywhere else in these songs.”

Click here to view the video and click here to buy or stream the album, Music Is Life.