Kamasi Washington is performing at the House of Blues in Dallas on May 15. Paula and I will be there, so, if you plan on attending the show, check us out and say hello. Due mainly to the pandemic, it has been a while (too long) since we have seen Kamasi perform live. Our anticipation is high. His shows are more than a great music experience. They are life experiences.

Jazz Cruises’ official jazz whisperer, Lee Mergner, penned a piece on Kamasi a few months ago. If you missed it, allow me to share some snippets from Lee’s note.

When I think of Kamasi and his music, two words come to mind, “big” and “joyous.” As to “big,” Kamasi is physically imposing. You can see strength in his eyes, his choice of clothing, and the confident way he speaks. His music is even larger. Surrounded by a healthy number of top musicians, his sound is large as well. When attending his show, the sheer magnitude of presence and sound commands you to listen, pay attention, and remain riveted to each note.

Do not think that the sound is overwhelming, overblown, or overdone. Amidst that large sound are beautiful melodies and chords. His music juxtaposed on the colorful majesty of his presence on stage is “joyous.” The spiritual nature of the presentation is undeniable. Partly regal, partly divine, Kamasi controls the bandstand, the stage, the venue, and, most importantly, the audience.

For those wondering what configuration Kamasi is bringing when he sails on Botti at Sea II, we have opted for the whole thing, the large ensemble! That may not have been the most cost-effective way to present Kamasi, but it will be the most exciting. Jazz Cruises walks the line between fiscal responsibility and artistic glory all the time. Glory won this conflict…by at least two touchdowns.

While we are in Dallas, we will be meeting with Curtis King, founder and president of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, Inc. (TBAAL) regarding the upcoming Riverfront Jazz Festival TBAAL is producing this Labor Day weekend. As you may know, Jazz Cruises has been circling the world of land-based events for years. Besides being a sponsor of the Vail Jazz Party, The Sarasota Jazz Festival, and Montclair Jazz Festival, we have produced our own shows in St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles. 

Our land-based events and sponsorships are not direct business opportunities. In the tax world, it would be more apt to describe them as part hobby/part tax planning. Those terms are euphemisms for breaking even and losing money. Indirectly, of course, these events allow us to continue to interact with our guests, the world of jazz, and support artists and organizations in jazz.

TBAAL’s event is intriguing to us as Dallas is becoming one of the top five locales of folks cruising on our programs. Supporting the communities that support us is important, plus helping to bring music to areas of the country that appreciate and attend our music shows makes great sense. College fraternity brother and Hall of Fame Broadcaster for the Texas Rangers, Eric Nadel, is the go-between for this encounter.

Did I mention that our second night in Dallas will be highlighted by the 12th Annual Eric Nadel Birthday Benefit? Each year Eric takes over The Kessler, an iconic Dallas venue, and presents a music show with the proceeds going to various mental health organizations in Dallas through the Grant Halliburton Foundation. I would urge you to join us, but the event, as always, is sold out!

Rarely do I write about a trip we are taking before we go, but this trip to Dallas sounds like fun and it blocked out all other thoughts I may have had for my weekly Our Take. I will let you know how it all turned out.

By Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Chris Botti at Sea, and Journey of Jazz. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at [email protected].


The revived town of Jersey City across the Hudson River from New York City plays host to a jazz festival with an impressive lineup of mainstream and Latin jazz acts performing at the Exchange Place waterfront. Appearing at the Jersey City Jazz Festival June 1-2 are George Coleman, Orrin Evans, David Kikoski, Champian Fulton, Lezlie Harrison, the Curtis Brothers, Winard Harper and Brianna Thomas.


Several artists from The Smooth Jazz Cruise will reunite in Florida for the 2nd Annual Clearwater Smooth Jazz Jam at Ruth Ekerd Hall in Clearwater. Jeffrey Osborne, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot and Peter White perform there on June 14. And Brian Culbertson, Sheila E & the E-Train and Gerald Albright take the stage on June 15


Held throughout the month of June, the Blue Note Jazz Festival features shows at five venues in New York City: Sony Hall, SummerStage in Central Park, Town Hall, Brooklyn Bowl and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Among the performers are several familiar to Jazz Cruises audiences, including Wynton Marsalis, Eliane Elias, Lisa Fischer, the Brecker Brothers Reunion Band, Chief Adjuah and Derrick Hodge.


2-Day Tickets are now available on Ticketmaster for STL JAZZ FEST. 1-Day Tickets will go on sale Friday, May 31. For details about the festival and how to purchase tickets, see below:

Produced by Jazz Cruises
The Factory – Chesterfield (St. Louis) Missouri

Eric Marienthal Quintet, featuring Niki Haris
The Comedy of Alonzo Bodden

Mindi Abair with Eric Marienthal & Friends
The Comedy of Alonzo Bodden

  Doors 6 pm / Showtime 7 pm

Jazz Cruises’ ’25 Programs

The Jazz Cruise ’25
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary

The plans for the 25th Anniversary sailing of The Jazz Cruise ’25 are spectacular. The cruise is over 86% reserved and is currently in Open Booking, which means that now anyone may reserve any available stateroom. Staterooms with Verandas remain in inventory along with Ocean View and Inside Staterooms.

The Smooth Jazz Cruise ‘25.1 & ‘25.2
Starting its 3rd Decade

With both sailings being fully reserved, guests wishing to sail on a ’25 sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise should JOIN WAITLIST now. Cancellations will be filled exclusively from the WAITLIST. WAITLIST guests qualify for special terms when reserving a stateroom on The Jazz Cruise ’25 or Botti at Sea II.

Botti at Sea II
Every Night is a Night on the Town

Botti at Sea II is in the Open Booking stage and is over 60% reserved. Anyone may reserve any available stateroom either by calling the office during regular business hours or doing so online. It was this time last year that there was a “run” on staterooms, so act now! 

Journey of Jazz ’25
Jazz Life at Sea & On Land 

Jazz Cruises’ newest program, Journey of Jazz ’25, hosted by Marcus Miller & Gregory Porter, has completed the Pre-Sales process and began Open Booking on April 30, 2024. Like a race care, this program as gone from 0 – 60(%) sold in the blink of an eye. 


Yvonne and Burt – Maryland
Darlene – Georgia

Guests on the ’24 jazz cruises received The Weekender mug, which we hope you will use with your Saturday morning coffee while you read the latest edition. Please share a picture of yourself & your mug with us so that we can include it for the 100,000+ folks who receive The Weekender each Saturday.

Tag us @thejazzcruise @bottiatsea @thesmoothjazzcruise #jazzcruises and #theweekender. Email your photo to [email protected].

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