OUR TAKE: David Foster


Do numbers alone tell the story of a man? Not really, but sometimes the numbers are so astounding that you must take notice. Is Rafael Nadal the greatest clay court tennis player ever? He is 112 – 4 at Roland Garros. Frank Sinatra sold more than 95 million records! Amazing, until you hear that Elvis Presley sold 135 million records! Who knows how they measure sales today given the fractured record industry.

So, when I first heard that David Foster had been nominated for a GRAMMY® Award 47 times and won 16, I had to take a hard look at who else was so prolific and successful. 24 people have won more than David Foster, with Beyoncé leading the field with 32. In the producer/arranger/songwriter world, only Quincy Jones, John Williams and Henry Mancini have won more. As you might expect, the nomination rankings are very similar.

To me, the number of Foster’s GRAMMY® Awards, though very impressive, pales in comparison to the span of time that he was winning them. His first was in 1979. His last was in 2009 and he was nominated in 2010. Being on the hunt for glory in the music business for 30 years is astounding. Whether you count that time in years, records, pivots, or musicians, that is a serious achievement. Jack Nicklaus won his first major in 1962 and his last, famously, in 1986, making his run of excellence 24 years long. My limited knowledge of most things does not include greater spans of excellence, though the popularity of The Rolling Stones might qualify.

Foster’s span of excellence was not simply doing the same thing over and over. In his own words, he meted out his success in stages:

Again, using his own words, Foster began as a studio musician, arranger, and recording artist. That period saw some success, but it was the foundation for the full-on haymaker in his second round when he became one of the most successful songwriters and record producers in the genre. Known for an astounding array of charitable interests and contributions, David’s efforts are legendary. A good friend of mine sat on the board of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf’s annual tennis tournament and charity in Las Vegas. He says that Foster provides his time, his ability to secure talent and his production efforts in a humble, understated and generous manner.

The Third Round is now and, thankfully for us, it includes performing with his wife, Katharine McPhee, a former runner-up on American Idol. Her run on that show was in 2006, back when I watched the show intently. That she would lose to someone who had no talent, has had no career, and has no following was a crisis of confidence back then and now. Think I am being harsh? When was the last time you played a Taylor Hicks song? I thought so!

For those who were not on Botti at Sea ’24, I have two questions and one comment. First question, why weren’t you on that amazing cruise? Second, have you heard about Katharine’s tour de force performance during which she jumped on the piano being played by David, danced among the seated guests, stood on one of the venue chairs and slid across the stage? For those who might say “So what?”, what you are missing is that the night of their performance was the bumpiest night of the entire four weeks we sailed in ’24! 

Ginger Rogers once offered that she did everything that Fred Astaire did, only she did it going backwards wearing heels. Yes, Katharine had a mean set of heels on that night as well. Our comment is a simple one. The Foster/McPhee show was one of the most memorable shows in the 25-year history of Jazz Cruises. Asking them to come back for Botti at Sea II was a no brainer. That they accepted is a great result.

We have been told that Foster/McPhee are working on a special show just for Botti at Sea II! That should not be a problem. All of their shows are special. Who knows, the show may wind up being a GRAMMY® Award-winning album 

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]


For the past several weeks, Chris Botti and his band have been traveling in Europe performing for great crowds of his International fans. June brings him back to the U.S. for several weeks of touring! While back, Chris will be putting the final touches on Chris Botti at Sea II (’25).
To learn more about the cruise, join our “Botti 250” webinar at 3 pm ET on June 4, 2024, as Chris shares the latest news about our lineup (one more star to be added), special programming and more! Despite his passion for fast cars and racing, Botti 250 is not the name of an automobile race. “250” refers to the number of days between then and the sailing date of Botti at Sea II (’25).

We are counting down the days….Jazz Cruises’ staff will be on the webinar as well, ready to answer your cruise questions in real time.


1-Day tickets for STL Jazz Fest are now on sale! For details about the festival
and information on 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


In 2017, Jazz Cruises ended a 17-year association with Holland America Line and moved its jazz programs to Celebrity Cruises. The relocation was met with skepticism by many of our long-time guests. “Change” can be a dirty word among our faithful, but so too, is “trust.” Though the guests were not thrilled with many of the appointments in the staterooms, they did recognize that the Millennium class ships of Celebrity Cruises did offer amazing venues for our music.

The Theatre (main venue) is 100% tiered and has very few sight issues. The Sky Lounge is an inviting and well laid out room for presenting and listening to music. With a full span from port to starboard, the Rendezvous Lounge is the perfect venue for smaller shows, lectures and late-night events. But, the one venue that sets these ships apart is the way we can adapt the main dining room (Metropolitan/Cosmopolitan) to become a showroom during the day and a nightclub in the evening. With its panoramic two-deck window display as the background, and its balcony that hangs over the main floor allowing folks to view the show and the audience, shows in that venue are nothing short of spectacular.

Celebrity Cruises’ place in the cruise world is unique. A recent article in the blog known as CRUISE has presented the tone of Celebrity Cruises brilliantly:

“Celebrity Cruises is known for offering more sophisticated and
upscale experiences, catering to adults looking for a refined
vacation without paying for a luxury line like Silversea or Regent.”
— CRUISE blog

There are four ships in the Millennium Class: Infinity, Summit, Constellation, and, of course, Millennium. Each ship has 1,109 staterooms and The Theatre can accommodate half of the guests at one time. Millennium and Summit have completed the Revolution upgrade during which every stateroom was reconfigured as well as most public areas. Remarkably, though our music venues were upgraded, their usefulness to Jazz Cruises was not compromised in any way.

Great Venues + Revolution Upgrades = Perfect Ship for Jazz Cruises.


Due to the unrest in Haiti, Celebrity Cruises has removed Labadee from its list of ports-of-call for the near future. Though it is likely that Labadee will be available for future cruises, it will not be part of the itinerary for both The Smooth Jazz Cruise ’25.1 & ’25.2.

Jazz Cruises staff has begun meeting with the Itinerary Team at Celebrity Cruises to select an alternative port-of-call. As soon as our choices are confirmed, we will let you know immediately. All other ports-of-call remain as scheduled.



Guitarist Lee Ritenour and keyboardist Dave Grusin, both of whom have sailed on The Smooth Jazz Cruise, have just released Brasil, a new album of contemporary Brazilian music featuring some of that country’s most notable young musicians. Recorded in São Paulo, the album includes five vocal tracks and four instrumental original compositions from Lee and Dave. Special guests include Swiss-born harmonica ace Grégoire Maret and legendary Brazilian vocalist and composer Ivan Lins, who collaborated with Lee and Dave on their GRAMMY® Award winning 1986 album Harlequin. Rounding out the talent are guitarist Celso Fonseca and vocalist Tatiana Parra. The core Brazilian contingent anchoring the rhythm section are drummer Edu Ribeiro, bassist Bruno Migotto, and percussionist Marcelo Costa. Lee announced tour dates stretching through the end of the summer. The tour kicked off on May 24 at the Jacksonville Jazz Fest and headed to the northeast before continuing on to Europe and then returning to the states in August. Dave will join Lee on select dates throughout the tour.


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 89% 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-Sale process and began Open Booking on April 30, 2024. Like a race car, this program as gone from 0 – 60(%) sold in the blink of an eye. 


Andrew & Caroline P.

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].

To top