Paquito D’Rivera John Clayton John Patitucci Bria Skonberg Anat Cohen Eric Marienthal Taylor Eigsti Ken Peplowski Herlin Riley Randy Brecker Christian McBride Emmet Cohen Jeff Hamilton Benny Benack III John Pizzarelli Jazzmeia Horn Wycliffe Gordon Eliane Elias Chucho Valdés Catherine Russell Kurt Elling Kenny Barron Lewis Nash Houston Person Shelly Berg Johnathan Blake

Paquito D’Rivera

Paquito D’Rivera has won a combined 11 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards (5 Grammy and 9 Latin Grammys). He is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer.  He is the recipient of the NEA Jazz Masters Award 2005 and the National Medal of the Arts 2005, as well as the Living Jazz Legend Award from the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. in 2007.

Born in Havana, Cuba, he performed at age 10 with the National Theater Orchestra, studied at the Havana Conservatory of Music, and at 17, became a featured soloist with the Cuban National Symphony. As a founding member of the Orquesta Cubana de Musica Moderna, he directed that group for two years, while at the same time playing both the clarinet and saxophone with the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra.

His numerous recordings include more than 30 solo albums. In 1988, he was a founding member of the United Nation Orchestra, a 15-piece ensemble organized by Dizzy Gillespie to showcase the fusion of Latin and Caribbean influences with jazz. A Grammy was awarded the United Nation Orchestra in 1991, the same year D’Rivera received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall for his contributions to Latin music. Additionally, D’Rivera’s highly acclaimed ensembles- the Chamber Jazz Ensemble, the Paquito D’Rivera Big Band, and the Paquito D’Rivera Quintet are in great demand world wide.

In addition to his extraordinary performing career as an instrumentalist, Mr. D’Rivera has rapidly gained a reputation as an accomplished composer. The prestigious music house, Boosey and Hawkes, is the exclusive publisher of Mr. D’Rivera’s compositions. Recent recognition of his compositional skills came with the award of a 2007 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition, and the 2007-2008 appointment as Composer-In-Residence at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.

John Clayton

One of the pillars of The Jazz Cruise for 20+ years, Bassist, Composer, Arranger and Producer, John Clayton, is a busy man. With a Grammy on his shelf and nine additional nominations, artists such as Diana Krall, Paul McCartney, Regina Carter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight, Queen Latifah, and Charles Aznavour have had spots on his crowded calendar. In 1985 John, co-founded the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and rekindled The Clayton Brothers Quintet. In addition to individual clinics, workshops, and private students as schedule permits, John also directs the educational components associated with the Centrum Jazz Festival and Workshop, and Vail Jazz Workshop. Career highlights include arranging the 'Star Spangled Banner" for Whitney Houston's performance at Super Bowl 1990 (the recording went platinum), playing bass on Paul McCartney's CD “Kisses On The Bottom,” arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on "Songs of Joy and Peace," and arranging playing and conducting the CD "Charles Aznavour With the ClaytonHamilton Jazz Orchestra," and numerous recordings with the Clayton Brothers, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander and many others.

John’s contribution to the education of young musicians is legendary and he has recently added Creative Director of Vail Jazz Organization to his many titles and undertakings.

John Patitucci

Acoustic and electric bassist John Patitucci has been at the forefront of the jazz world for the last 30+ years and active in all styles of music. He is a 4-time Grammy award winner, has been nominated over twenty times and has played on many other Grammy award-winning recordings. He has performed and/or recorded with jazz giants such as Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Kenny Garrett, Victor Feldman, Nancy Wilson and countless others. John has also performed and/or recorded with pop artists such as Natalie Cole, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, Joni Mitchell, Bono, Sting, Norah Jones, James Taylor, Carole King and Paul Simon.

  He has been active as a composer with sixteen solo recordings of his own and has been commissioned to write for various chamber music groups. John has performed as a soloist with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, the Estonian National Symphony, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Trondheim Symphony of Norway, the St. Louis Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra. In early 2020, John’s composition, a protest piece entitled Hypocrisy, was premiered in Toronto and performed by the Royal Conservatory Orchestra, along with Danilo Perez, Brian Blade and Mr. Patitucci.   After touring with the award-winning Wayne Shorter Quartet for over 20 years, John continues to tour with his own projects, including the John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet, his Brazilian Trio, Children of the Light Trio, and a special collaboration with the Harlem String Quartet as a composer and a performer. John’s 16th recording, a solo bass album entitled Soul of the Bass was released in 2019, and a remixed and remastered version of his Brazilian trio record, Irmãos de Fé, was released in 2020. Mr. Patitucci composed his first film score for a documentary entitled Chicago America’s Hidden War, which was released in May of 2021. In 2022, John released an album that resulted from a 2021 tour of Italy with saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Brian Blade, entitled Live in Italy.

Bria Skonberg

Described as “one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” (Wall Street Journal) she recently sang the music of Aretha Franklin alongside Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, played with U2 at the Apollo, sat in with the Dave Matthews band, was a featured guest with Jon Batiste and performed the Star Spangled Banner at Madison Square Garden for a NY Rangers game. A bandleader since her teens, Bria has performed festivals and stages the world over, including New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and over a hundred more. In 2016 Bria released her debut LP on Sony Masterworks which won a Canadian JUNO award and made the Top 5 on Billboard jazz charts; her music has over 10 million streams on Spotify. A 6x Downbeat Rising Star, further accolades include the Jazz at Lincoln Center Swing Award, Best Vocal and Best Trumpet from Hot House Jazz Magazine and Outstanding Jazz Artist at the Bistro Awards. The “shining hope of hot jazz” (NY Times) has been at the forefront of a revival of classic American music as both a performer and educator, programming concerts and workshops for students of all ages. She has been on faculty at the Teagarden Jazz Camp (2008- present) and Centrum Jazz Camp, performs outreach on behalf of Jazz at Lincoln Center, is currently developing educational activities for the Louis Armstrong House Museum and co-directs the New York Hot Jazz Camp she co-founded in 2015. In 2018 Lincoln Center sought out her leadership for a tribute to the first integrated all female big band, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, which launched her acclaimed group Sisterhood of Swing. In 2019 she was a featured member of Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour for 26 dates alongside Cecile McLorin Salvant, Christian Sands, Melissa Aldana and Jamison Ross. Bria is a member of the Town Hall Ensemble, an all star cast directed by Steven Bernstein that celebrates the cultural and musical history of New York city. She tours constantly bringing her own signature sound of fiery trumpet playing and smoky vocals together with storytelling and adventurous concoctions of classic and new. Originally from the small town of Chilliwack, British Columbia, Bria studied jazz and performance at Capilano University in Vancouver while balancing a full road schedule with two bands. After graduating she traveled extensively, performing in China, Japan and throughout Europe as a featured artist. When she wasn’t traveling, Bria was honing her chops with Dal Richards, Vancouver’s King of Swing. Playing BC Place Stadium at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver capped off this exciting period, with Bria featured at the Paralympics opening ceremony for over 50 000 people. Seeking new challenges, Bria moved to New York city in September of 2010. Upon arrival she went to jam with friends in Washington Square Park and an hour into playing world renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis stopped to listen. He gave her a thumbs up.

Anat Cohen

Ever charismatic, prolific and inspired, Grammy-nominated clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. Anat has been declared Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007 and has also been named the top clarinetist in both the readers and critics polls in DownBeat for multiple years running. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors.

Anat was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and raised into a musical family. She attended the Tel Aviv School for the Arts, the "Thelma Yellin" High School for the Arts and the Jaffa Music Conservatory. Anat began clarinet studies at age 12 and played jazz on clarinet for the first time in the Jaffa Conservatory’s Dixieland band. At 16, she joined the school’s big band and learned to play the tenor saxophone; it was this same year that Anat entered the prestigious Thelma Yellin school, where she majored in jazz. After graduation, she discharged her mandatory Israeli military service duty from 1993-95, playing tenor saxophone in the Israeli Air Force band.

Anat has collaborated regularly with one of her heroes, Cuban-American clarinetist-saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, who introduced her onstage at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex as “one of the greatest players ever of the clarinet.” Having first appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2007, she had the honor of being the music director for the Newport Jazz Festival Now 60! all-star band that toured the U.S. on the occasion of the festival’s 60th anniversary in 2014. In 2017, Anat played all the major European festivals as part of the all-star, all-female band called ARTEMIS alongside the likes of Renée Rosnes and Cécile McLorin Salvant. She has also toured in a duo with acclaimed pianist Fred Hersch, as well as with iconic Cuban singer Omara Portuondo.

Eric Marienthal

Taylor Eigsti

GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist and composer Taylor Eigsti started playing the piano when he was four years old. Growing up in Menlo Park, CA, Eigsti was quickly labeled a prodigy, and has since released 8 albums as a bandleader, in addition to appearing on over 60 albums as a sideman.  One of Eigsti’s first professional performances was on The Jazz Cruise.

Eigsti recently won a 2022 GRAMMY® Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for his most recent album “Tree Falls”, released in 2021 on GSI Records. In addition to this recent honor, Eigsti has garnered 3 individual GRAMMY® nominations over the years for his work as a recording artist and composer, including Best Instrumental Composition, and Best Jazz Instrumental Solo. Eigsti has also been featured on several other GRAMMY® nominated albums by Gretchen Parlato and Julian Lage, and co-wrote a featured composition with Don Cheadle for the GRAMMY® - winning soundtrack to the motion picture “Miles Ahead” (2017).

In addition to touring with his trio and quartet and larger ensembles, Eigsti has also been a long-time member of the regular touring bands of Chris Botti, Eric Harland Voyager, Gretchen Parlato, and Kendrick Scott Oracle, among many others over the years. Most recently Eigsti has been a regular touring member of two-time Academy Award nominated composer and trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s E-Collective band featuring the Turtle Island Quartet, in addition to touring in a duo context with Rolling Stones’ long-time vocalist Lisa Fischer.

Ken Peplowski

Ken Peplowski playing instrument

In addition to recording over 50 of his own CDs, master clarinetist Ken Peplowski has worked and recorded with Mel Torme, Leon Redbone, Charlie Byrd, Peggy Lee, George Shearing, Madonna, Hank Jones, Dave Frishberg, Rosemary Clooney, Tom Harrell, James Moody, Cedar Walton, Houston Person, Steve Allen, Bill Charlap, Woody Allen, Marianne Faithfull, Isaac Delgado & Erich Kunzel. (“Although not all at once” says the very clever musician. He is currently the artistic director of the Sarasota Jazz Festival, the Newport Beach Jazz Party, Oregon Jazz Festival, and the jazz director of the Siletz Bay Music Festival.

Ken’s contribution to The Jazz Cruise over the years is among the most influential and important of any musician. He performs at more different shows than anyone, curates and hosts the Welcome Show, and provides levity and fun wherever he goes.

Herlin Riley

Since coming of age in the nurturing environment of a very musical family and a distinguished bloodline of drummers, New Orleans native Herlin Riley emerged from that most creative era of all things rhythmic in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, to enliven the ensembles of such influential and demanding improvisers as pianist Ahmad Jamal and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis through his commanding yet elegant rhythmic presence.

His authoritative style of melodic percussion is deeply imbued in the fertile creative soil of the Crescent City, encompassing as it does the entire length and breadth of America’s ongoing musical journey. Now with the release of his debut recording for Mack Avenue Records, Riley’s New Direction is an engaging, wide-ranging recital that distills a lifetime of experience into a swinging body of new music that defines what a big tent the music of New Orleans has always represented stylistically and spiritually.

Randy Brecker

Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker has shaped the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa. His 19 Grammy® nominations and 7 awards is testament to his talent.

After performing and touring with others, Randy and his brother, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, were ready to front their own group, the Brecker Brothers Band. A band of immeasurable impact and influence, they released six albums and garnered seven Grammy® nominations between 1975 and 1981. Their eponymous first record, which Randy wrote, arranged, and produced, featured his now classic composition “Some Skunk Funk.” Without apology, we hold Randy in the highest possible regard as a musician and a person.

Christian McBride

Christian McBride is an 8-time Grammy® Award winning bassist/composer and the host of NPR’s Jazz Night in America. Since the early 1990’s Christian McBride has recorded on over 300 dates as a sideman, as well as being a leader from his debut recording in 1995. Aside from various stints with Sting, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Freddie Hubbard and George Duke, McBride has been artist-in-residence and artistic director with organizations such as Jazz House Kids, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Jazz Museum in Harlem, Jazz Aspen and NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center -- Newark). McBride is the new artistic director of the historic Newport Jazz Festival, replacing the iconic George Wein. In addition, McBride hosts “The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian” on Sirius/XM and DJs at clubs as DJ Brother Mister. Christian’s Jazz House Kids will be performing on the cruise.

Emmet Cohen

Jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is one of his generation’s pivotal figures in music and the related arts. Leader of the Emmet Cohen Trio and creator of the “Masters Legacy Series,” Cohen is an internationally acclaimed jazz artist and dedicated music educator. Winner of the 2019 American Pianists Awards and the Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association, Emmet is also an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Indianapolis. Emmet Cohen has performed, recorded, or collaborated with Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Tootie Heath, Houston Person, Christian McBride, Kurt Elling, Billy Hart, Herlin Riley, Lea DeLaria, and Bill T. Jones. The Jazz Cruise is fond of claiming to provide Emmet with his first professional gig and we consider him to be a true “son” of the cruise. Emmet is also assisting The Jazz Cruise with lineup selection.

Jeff Hamilton

Drummer Jeff Hamilton has been honing his big band skills since the tender age of 8, earning him a presence on the stage with legends like Ella Fitzgerald, the Count Basie Orchestra, Rosemary Clooney, Monty Alexander, and Diana Krall. Featured in nearly 200 recordings – including 16 Grammy® Award-winning titles – with the likes of Natalie Cole, Barbra Streisand, Mel Torme and Herb Ellis, Jeff also teaches, arranges, and composes for the drums.

Jeff is also the co-leader of the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (the Grammy®-nominated big band that provides backup for Diana Krall), The Jeff Hamilton Trio featuring Tamir Hendelman and John Hamar, has been a pillar of The Jazz Cruise for nearly two decades. For years, Jeff has served as the untitled co-producer of The Jazz Cruise aiding our staff with insights and ideas that have made The Jazz Cruise so special.

One needs to arrive at a Jeff Hamilton event early enough to secure a seat as virtually every drummer on the ship will be there to watch and admire.

Benny Benack III

By age 31, Emmy-nominated trumpeter and singer Benny Benack III has proven to be that rarest of talents: not only a fiery trumpet player with a stirring command of the postbop trumpet vernacular in the vein of Kenny Dorham and Freddie Hubbard, but also a singer with a sly, mature, naturally expressive delivery in the post-Sinatra mold, performing standards and his own astute songs with a thrilling sense of showmanship. This duel-threat ability was recognized by the 2022 Downbeat Critics Poll where he appeared as not only the #2 Rising Star Male Vocalist, but a top Rising Star Trumpeter as well. His superb intonation and bracing virtuosity enable him to handle astounding feats of originally composed vocalese (complex solos with written lyrics). On top of it all, he’s a highly capable pianist as well.

Benny has performed internationally as an Emcee/Host for the Youtube sensation Postmodern Jukebox, and achieved his own viral success amassing millions of views for his crooning alongside the Grammy-award winning “8-Bit Big Band”. In early 2020 he released A Lot of Livin’ to Do, the follow-up to his well-received 2017 debut One of a Kind. This sophomore effort, richly varied in mood and brimming with bop inflection, features bassist extraordinaire and Jazz ambassador Christian McBride (whose Grammy-award winning Big Band frequently calls upon Benny in the trumpet section) and drummer/producer Ulysses Owens, Jr., as well as the radiant Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano and Rhodes. His vocalese duet on “Social Call” from this album alongside fellow young star vocalist Veronica Swift became an instant smash hit single, being transcribed and learned by Jazz vocalists around the world.

John Pizzarelli

John Pizzarelli, world-renowned guitarist and singer, is a prime contemporary interpreter of the Great American Songbook, with a repertoire that includes Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra and The Beatles. He has been hailed by The Boston Globe for “reinvigorating the Great American Songbook and repopularizing jazz.” The Toronto Star pegged him as “the genial genius of the guitar.” (TJCHOF)

John’s “formal” musical education was held on the road with his famous father, the legendary Bucky Pizzarelli. The teaching produced great results, accelerating John’s ascendancy in the music world. Following high-profile collaborations with Sir Paul McCartney and Michael McDonald, John has created musical tributes to both Nat King Cole and, more recently, Pat Metheny. And, in addition to working with James Taylor, George Shearing, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Frigo and various orchestras, John performs with his wife, vocalist Jessica Molaskey. (TJCHOF)

Jazzmeia Horn

Jazzmeia Horn won the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition in 2015. Her repertoire includes jazz standards and covers of songs from other genres, including by artists such as Stevie Wonder. She has been compared to jazz vocalists such as Betty Carter, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson.

Horn moved to New York City in 2009. She attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. During her first semester in New York City, she formed a trio featuring Javier Santiago, Nadav Lachishe, and Cory Cox.

Her first live radio show was in the fall of 2009 on the Junior Mance WBGO radio show in Newark, New Jersey, and she has performed at The Apollo, Ginny's Supper Club, and the Metropolitan Room. Horn has since received many accolades from jazz critics. In 2014, Horn toured internationally in England, France, Russia, South Africa, and Austria.

She was featured as one of the stars in South Australia's Generations in Jazz 2017, singing with artists such as James Morrison, Wycliffe Gordon, Gordon Goodwin, and Ross Irwin among others. In 2017 Horn also released her first album. Entitled A Social Call, it was ranked the number 1 album for 2017 on the JazzWeek website. The album tour took her throughout the U.S., Asia (Macau), and Europe (London, Paris, and Milan).

A Social Call earned Horn her first Grammy nomination in 2018. She performed at the 60th Grammy Award Ceremony was met with much admiration from the audience. Her follow-up album, Love & Liberation, earned Horn her second Grammy nomination in 2020 for best jazz vocal album.

Wycliffe Gordon

Musical ambassador and interpreter of “America’s” music, Wycliffe Gordon is one of the world’s most renowned and award-winning jazz trombonists touring today. Wycliffe tours as a soloist and regularly with his quintet headlining at legendary jazz venues. Wycliffe is a former member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Named “Trombonist of the Year” by Jazz Journalists Association for an unprecedented 14th time in 2021, Downbeat Critics Poll has named Wycliffe “Best Trombone” six times and he has been the recipient of the “Louie Award”, the International Trombone Award and the “Satchmo” Award.

Wycliffe has sailed on more programs and Jazz Cruises sailings than any other musician. He has performed in every configuration imaginable and is the guardian of The Jazz Cruise Gospel Hour, one of the most cherished and beloved elements of The Jazz Cruise. (TJCHOF)

Eliane Elias

Multi GRAMMY® and Multi LATIN GRAMMY® Award winning internationally acclaimed recording artist, pianist/singer/composer/arranger Eliane Elias’ distinctive musical style is one of the most unique and immediately recognizable sounds in jazz and Brazilian music. She blends her Brazilian roots and alluring voice with her virtuosic instrumental jazz, her classical and compositional skills, while she consistently displays her pianistic mastery and ability to integrate the many artistic roles she takes on. Her 2021 album MIRROR MIRROR won the GRAMMY Award and the Latin GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album/Jazz Album in 2022. Her 2022 album Quietude debuted as #1 on Billboard, iTunes, Amazon Jazz Charts and received a LIBERA Award Nomination for Best Latin Record in 2023. Mirror Mirror is an extraordinary piano duet recording of Eliane Elias with the late legendary jazz great Chick Corea, and famed Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés. While her highly successful recordings have predominantly featured her alluring voice and piano mastery, the piano has always been her first love and working with these two incredible icons of jazz was a rare opportunity to record in a two-piano setting, something she hasn’t done in many years, since her piano duet recordings with Herbie Hancock. With 31 albums and over 2.4 million albums sold to date, Eliane Elias has so far, toured in 74 countries, she is a four-time Gold Disc Award recipient, a three-time Best Vocal Album winner in Japan and winner of the 2018 Edison Lifetime Achievement Award in Holland to name a few accolades. Her 2019 and 2021 albums (Love Stories and Mirror Mirror) were both voted “Downbeat’s Best Album of the Year - Masterpiece” and as most of her previous releases, her recordings hit #1 on the jazz charts worldwide. Eliane Elias received two LIBERA Award nominations for Best Latin Record (2017 and 2023) and has been nominated 10 times by the Grammys and Latin Grammys, receiving nominations in 5 different categories and won two GRAMMYS and two LATIN GRAMMYS to date.

Chucho Valdés

In a career spanning more than 60 years, both as a solo artist and bandleader, Mr. Valdés has distilled elements of the Afro-Cuban music tradition, jazz, classical music, rock, and more, into a deeply personal style. Winner of seven GRAMMY® and four Latin GRAMMY® Awards, Mr. Valdés, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Science last year and was also inducted in the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame.

His most recent project on record, Jazz Batá 2, revisits a revolutionary idea Mr. Valdés first recorded in 1972: a piano jazz trio featuring batá drums, the sacred, hourglass-shaped drums used in the ritual music of the Yoruba religion in Cuba, in place of the conventional trap set. Jazz Batá 2 won a Latin Grammy as Best Latin Jazz album and was selected as one of Billboard magazine's list of The 50 Best Latin Albums of the Decade.

These days he appears energized by his much-awaited reunion with his old friend and bandmate, the extraordinary clarinetist, saxophonist, and composer Paquito D'Rivera. They have rarely played together for the past 40 years, and since their reunion, they have wasted no time in making appearances.

Catherine Russell

Vocalist Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker, born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist / composer / bandleader, and Louis Armstrong's long-time musical director. Her mother, the late Carline Ray, was a pioneering vocalist / guitarist / bassist who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Mary Lou Williams, and Sy Oliver. Catherine’s professional life began early. After graduating with honors from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she toured and recorded with Carrie Smith, Steely Dan, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Toshi Reagon and Rosanne Cash, among others, appearing on over 200 albums.

In 2022, Catherine Russell released Send For Me, her 8th album as a leader, receiving rave reviews in national media outlets; The Wall Street Journal, Relix, No Depression, JazzTimes, WBGO, Pop Matters, and others, while also performing a concert for NPR Tiny Desk (Home).

With universal acclaim, Catherine Russell has performed on four continents. She's been a hit at major Jazz Festivals including Monterey, Newport, North Sea, JazzAscona, Montreal, Bern, Rochester International, Panama, Tanglewood, and at sold out venues like The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Scullers in Boston, The Dakota in Minneapolis, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in NYC, SFJazz in San Francisco, and Pasadena Pops in Los Angeles. All Music Guide says, "Russell emerged as a retro old school vocalist for the ages."

Her repertoire features a selection of gems from the 1920s through the Present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor. With an off-the-beaten-path song selection, sparkling acoustic swing, and a stunning vocal approach, Catherine Russell has joined the ranks of the greatest interpreters and performers of American Popular Song.

Kurt Elling

Renowned for his singular combination of robust swing and poetic insight, two-time Grammy® winner Kurt Elling has secured his place among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. Declared “the standout male vocalist of our time” by The New York Times, Elling has garnered unprecedented accolades, including a fourteen-year run atop the DownBeat Critics Poll, a dozen Grammy® nominations, and eight Jazz Journalists Association awards for “Male Singer of the Year.”
Kurt has toured the world in a variety of contexts, including UNESCO-sponsored “International Jazz Day” performances in Havana, Cuba, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in Melbourne, Australia and in Washington DC. He has twice performed at the White House, including a performance in collaboration with the late Marvin Hamlisch and the National Symphony Orchestra for President Obama’s first State Dinner. He has served as Artist-In-Residence at the Monterey and Singapore Jazz Festivals.

The Jazz Cruise proudly counts Kurt among those very special performers who make the cruise special every year. We call them the Pillars of The Jazz Cruise.

Kenny Barron

Honored by The National Endowment for the Arts as a 2010 Jazz Master, Kenny Barron has an unmatched ability to mesmerize audiences with his elegant playing, sensitive melodies and infectious rhythms. The Los Angeles Times named him “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” and Jazz Weekly calls him “The most lyrical piano player of our time.”

Philadelphia is the birthplace of many great musicians, including one of the undisputed masters of the jazz piano: Kenny Barron. Kenny was born in 1943 and while a teenager, started playing professionally with Mel Melvin’s orchestra. This local band also featured Barron’s brother Bill, the late tenor saxophonist.

Following stints with Ron Carter in the late seventies Kenny formed a trio with Buster Williams and Ben Riley which also worked alongside of Eddie Lockjaw” Davis, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt and Harry “Sweets” Edison. Throughout the 80’s Barron collaborated with the great tenor saxophonist Stan Getz, touring with his quartet and recording several legendary albums including “Anniversary”, “Serenity” and the Grammy nominated “People Time”.

Kenny Barron’s own recordings have earned him nine Grammy nominations beginning in 1992. Barron consistently wins the jazz critics and readers polls, including Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines. The famed Spanish ceramist Lladro honored Mr. Barron with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater SUNY Empire State in 2013 and from Berklee College of Music in 2011. In 2009 he received the Living Legacy Award from Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association.

Whether he is playing solo, trio or quintet, Kenny Barron is recognized the world over as a master of performance and composition.

Lewis Nash

Lewis Nash is one of jazz’s most recorded musicians, appearing on over 500 recordings including 10 Grammy® winners and numerous Grammy® nominees. Nash has the distinction of being the only musician in jazz history featured on the winners in both the “Best Jazz Vocal” and “Best Jazz Instrumental” album categories in two separate years: the 2004 Grammy®s with Nancy Wilson and McCoy Tyner, and again in 2010 with Dee Dee Bridgewater and James Moody.

A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Lewis first gained international recognition as a member of vocalist Betty Carter’s trio. In the years to follow, Nash toured, recorded and performed with many of jazz’s most celebrated icons, and his resume reads like a “who’s who” of jazz royalty. Lewis is now as well known and beloved for his dedication to jazz education as he is to performing. (TJCHOF)

Houston Person

Houston Person is a legend in jazz. After years as producer and house tenor for HighNote Records and touring with the late Etta Jones, Person is now known as a master of popular songs played in a relaxed, highly accessible style reminiscent of the great Ben Webster.

Houston’s appearances as sideman are legion, and include recordings with Etta Jones, Lena Horne, Lou Rawls, Dakota Staton, Horace Silver, Charles Earland, Joey DeFrancesco, and many others. As a record producer, he has worked with many artists, including Etta Jones, Freddy Cole, Charles Brown, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, Dakota Staton, and Ernie Andrews.

The Jazz Cruise knows him best as the most influential person in the history and development of the program. From the start (2001), Houston has been the heart and soul of the cruise, offering his music in a style that makes everyone happy. His grace and leadership have kept The Jazz Cruise on the right track for more than 20 years.

Shelly Berg

Shelly Berg is the dynamic Music Director of The Jazz Cruise and has once again curated an amazing line-up of performances for the cruise, as well as being a gifted member of our All Stars. A Steinway piano artist and a five-time Grammy®-nominated arranger and orchestrator, Shelly has performed and recorded with a wide range of artists including Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Niki Haris, Arturo Sandoval, Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Seal, Ledisi, Pharrell Williams, Renée Fleming, and James Galway.

An award-winning educator with over 40 years of leadership in higher education, Shelly Berg is the Dean of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. He also hosts “Generation Next” on Sirius XM Real Jazz, serves as artistic advisor for Jazz Roots at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, and is on the board of SFJAZZ. (TJCHOF)

Johnathan Blake