Lineup goes here.
The Jazz Cruise lineups are comprised of Performing Groups, The Jazz Cruise Leaders and Musicians who perform as members of Anita’s Big Band and in All-Star settings. With sidemen, the Performing Groups account for nearly 65 jazz musicians. There are roughly 10 more outstanding artists who serve as The Jazz Cruise Leaders. The remaining 25 musicians are Big Band members and All-Stars.
As of now, we are excited to announce the many amazing Performing Groups who are scheduled to appear on The Jazz Cruise ’23. The leaders of each Performing Group are listed below. As for The Jazz Cruise Leaders, that list (again below) is probably complete at this time.
An internationally acclaimed trumpeter, composer and bandleader, as well as an educator and a leading advocate of American culture, Wynton Marsalis is widely considered to be the most accomplished jazz musician of his generation. He has created and performed an expansive range of music from quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras and tap dance to ballet, expanding the vocabulary for jazz and classical music with a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers. Always swinging, Marsalis blows his trumpet with a clear tone, a depth of emotion and a unique, virtuosic style. When you hear him play, you’re hearing life being played out through music.
In his role as artistic director of the prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center organization, Marsalis presents concerts, educational programs and outreach efforts, as well as leads the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He has recorded more than 40 albums as a leader and has won nine Grammy awards. Approximately 7 million copies of his recordings have been sold worldwide. He has toured in 30 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. The first jazz musician to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music, Marsalis has also won the National Medal of Arts, the National Humanities Medal and been named an NEA Jazz Master.
Christian McBride is a six-time GRAMMY Award winning bassist/composer and the host of NPR's Jazz Night in America. Since the early 1990s, Christian McBride has recorded on over 300 dates as a sideman. However, he's been 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 Asoen and NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center -- Newark). McBride manages to tour consistently with his quartet, the New Jawn. He also fronts the GRAMMY-winning Christian McBride Big Band, whose Mack Avenue recordings, The Good Feeling and Bringin' It won the GRAMMY Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2012 and 2017, respectively. In addition, McBride hosts The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian" on SiriusXM and DJs at clubs as DJ Brother Mister. McBride was recently named the artistic director of the historic Newport Jazz Festival, taking over the reins from the festival's longtime artistic director and founder, George Wein.
GRAMMY winner Kurt Elling is among the world’s foremost jazz vocalists. He won the DownBeat Critics Poll for fourteen consecutive years and was named “Male Singer of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association on eight occasions. An international jazz award winner, he has also been GRAMMY nominated a dozen times.
Elling’s rich baritone spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. His repertoire includes original compositions and modern interpretations of standards, all of which are springboards for inspired improvisation, scatting, spoken word and poetry. The New York Times declared, “Elling is the standout male vocalist of our time.” The Washington Post added, “Since the mid-1990s, no singer in jazz has been as daring, dynamic or interesting as Kurt Elling. With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz.” Elling was the Artist-in-Residence for the Singapore and Monterey Jazz Festivals. He has also written multi-disciplinary works for The Steppenwolf Theatre and the City of Chicago. The Obama administration’s first state dinner featured Elling in a command performance. Elling is a renowned artist of vocalese – the writing and performing of words over recorded improvised jazz solos. Said Robert Pinsky, former Poet Laureate of the United States, “In Kurt Elling’s art, the voice of jazz gives a new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry and music.”
Fifty-five years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. His spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition, as Alexander accurately states, “to build up the heat and kick up a storm.” In the course of any given performance, Alexander applies those aesthetics to repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expression—the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae. In the process, he has performed and recorded with artists from every corner of the musical universe and entertainment world: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Ernest Ranglin, Barbara Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, among others. Like his “eternal inspiration,” Erroll Garner, Alexander—cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time—gives the hardcore-jazz-obsessed much to dig into while also communicating the message to the squarest “civilian.” To date Alexander has recorded over 70 albums as a leader. Among his many honors is the title of Commander in the Order of Distinction, awarded to him by the government of Jamaica, for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador.
Blessed with a fitting name for her chosen path – it was Jazzmeia Horn’s jazz-loving, piano-playing grandmother who chose her name – the singer was born in Dallas in 1991, grew up in a tightly knit, church-going family filled with musical talent and began singing as a toddler. She attended Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts, known for launching such musical greats as Roy Hargrove, Norah Jones, and Erykah Badu, then later attended The New School in New York City. Her education included steering herself to the mentors who would guide her passion for jazz, like Bobby McFerrin, Abbey Lincoln, and Betty Carter. Winner of the 2013 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition and the 2015 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, Jazzmeia was signed to Concord Records and released her debut album A Social Call to great critical acclaim.
In the two years since Jazzmeia Horn bowed with her first album, the GRAMMY Award-nominated A Social Call, she’s been busy on the road, honing her vocal skills to a finely tuned level, writing songs of personal relevance and social message, and perfecting a fearless approach to improvisation and performance in general. The convergence of this drive and development has resulted in what has brought Jazzmeia her second GRAMMY Award nomination, Love and Liberation—filled with songs of daring musicality, emotional power, and messages of immediate relevancy.
Horn chose the title she did for her second album because, “Love and Liberation is a concept and mantra that I use consistently in my everyday life. For me the two go hand in hand and they both describe where I am in my life and career right now. An act of love is an act of liberation, and choosing to liberate—oneself or another—is an act of love.”
Raised in Philadelphia, this is where the foundation of his musical roots in jazz, blues and other musical art forms were born. To hear Joey DeFrancesco today, his music embodies the traditional art form infused with a distinct modern approach, just part of what makes his music unmistakably his own. Joey DeFrancesco's emergence in the 1980s marked the onset of a musical renaissance. Organ jazz had all but gone into hibernation from the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s until DeFrancesco reignited the flame with his vintage Hammond organ and Leslie speaker cabinet. The son of "Papa" John DeFrancesco, an organist himself, the younger DeFrancesco remembers playing as early as four years old. Soon after, his father began bringing him to gigs in Philadelphia, sitting in with legendary players like Hank Mobley and Philly Joe Jones, who quickly recognized his talent and enthusiasm. With a natural gift for music, DeFrancesco also swiftly picked up on the trumpet after a touring stint with Miles Davis as one of the two youngest players ever recruited for any of Davis' ensembles. DeFrancesco has recorded and/or toured with his own groups as well as numerous renowned artists that include Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Diana Krall, Nancy Wilson, George Benson, James Moody, John Scofield, Bobby Hutcherson, Jimmy Cobb, John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell, David Sanborn and many more. The four-time Grammy Award nominee, with more than 30 recordings as a leader under his belt, has received countless Jazz Journalist Association awards and other accolades worldwide, including being inducted into the inaugural Hammond Organ Hall of Fame in 2014, the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame in 2016 as well as topping the Critics Polls in DownBeat Magazine eleven times over the past fifteen years and the Readers Polls every year since 2005. DeFrancesco also hosts a weekly program on SiriusXM Radio's Real Jazz channel titled Organized.
More Music, due out September 24, via Mack Avenue Records, is “more” in every conceivable way. It offers up ten new DeFrancesco originals, brought to life by a scintillating new trio. And the master organist, who has long supplemented his keyboard virtuoso with his skilled trumpet playing, here brings out his full arsenal: organ, keyboard, piano, trumpet, and, for the first time on record, tenor saxophone.
Grammy Award winning pianist Bill Charlap has performed with many leading artists of our time, from Phil Woods and Benny Carter to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. He is acclaimed for his interpretations of American popular songs, and has recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Duke Ellington. Mr. Charlap’s collaboration with Tony Bennett, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern, on the RPM/Columbia label, won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. It features Mr. Charlap and Mr. Bennett together and in collaboration with The Bill Charlap Trio and in duo piano performances with his wife, renowned jazz pianist and composer Renee Rosnes.
The Bill Charlap Trio, with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, marks its 20th year together this season, and is recognized as one of the leading ensembles in jazz. The Trio received Grammy Award nominations for Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein and The Bill Charlap Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard, both on the Blue Note label. Now on the Impulse!/Verve label, the Trio’s latest recording, Uptown Downtown earned them a third Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Jazz Album. 2016’s Notes from New York (Impulse!/Verve) earned a five-star review in Downbeat, which hailed it as “a master class in class.” The Bill Charlap Trio tours all over the world, and their New York engagements include regular appearances at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Village Vanguard.
This summer Bill Charlap will celebrate his 14th year as artistic director of the annual Jazz in July festival at New York City’s 92Y. Mr. Charlap has also produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the Chicago Symphony Center and the Hollywood Bowl. He is currently Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. Founded in 1973, the program is one of the longest-running and most respected jazz programs in the world.
Born in New York City, Mr. Charlap began playing the piano at age three. His father was Broadway composer Moose Charlap, whose credits include Peter Pan, and his mother is singer Sandy Stewart, who toured with Benny Goodman, appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Perry Como shows, and earned a Grammy Award nomination for her recording of My Coloring Book.
Mr. Charlap and Ms. Rosnes frequently collaborate in duo piano concerts. Their highly acclaimed album Double Portrait is on the Blue Note label.
Guitar and vocal virtuoso John Pizzarelli has been breathing new life into the Great American Songbook since the age of 6. The GRAMMY-nominated vocalist will captivate guests of The Jazz Cruise ‘16 with his cool, suave spin on the songs of Richard Rodgers, George Gershwin, Nat King Cole, his musical inspiration, Frank Sinatra and even the Beatles. Performing solo and as bandleader of his eponymous quartet, John’s astounding list of credentials includes appearances on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, Live With Regis & Kelly, the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; special guest on recordings for major artists such as James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Kristin Chenoweth, Rosemary Clooney and Buddy DeFranco; and recipient of the 2009 Ella Fitzgerald Award from the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Ann Hampton Callaway
Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the leading champions of the great American Songbook, having made her mark as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer. A born entertainer, her unique singing style blends jazz and traditional pop, making her a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs as well as in the recording studio, on television, and in film. She is best known for Tony-nominated performance in the hit Broadway musical Swing! and for writing and singing the theme song to the hit TV series The Nanny. Callaway is a Platinum Award winning writer whose songs are featured on seven of Barbra Streisand’s recent CD’s. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland and Barbara Carroll to name a few.
Callaway’s live performances showcase her warmth, spontaneous wit and passionate delivery of standards, jazz classics and originals. She is one of America’s most gifted improvisers, taking words and phrases from her audiencesand creating songs on the spot, whether alone at a piano or with a symphony orchestra. Ann has been a special guest performer with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood and is featured at many of the Carnegie Hall tributes. Ann resides in New York. She lives by the creed best expressed in the Andre Gide quote: “Art is the collaboration between God and the artist and the less the artist does, the better.”
Houston Person knows the music business inside out, from booking his own tours to producing his own albums. As eclectic as he is talented, Person has recorded everything from disco and gospel to pop and R&B, in addition to his trademark, soulful hard bop. 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.
Person grew up in Florence, South Carolina, and remembers his parents listening to lots of music at home, including jazz. First playing piano before switching to the tenor sax at age 17, he went on to study music at South Carolina State College (where he is included in the school’s Hall of Fame), and later pursued advanced studies at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. As a member of the United States Air Force band stationed in Germany, he played with Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton, and Don Ellis, later working as a sideman for organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith in the mid-1960s.
Person built his reputation as a leader with a series of soulful recordings for Prestige in the '60s. However, for a large part of his career he was best-known for his legendary partnership with the great vocalist, Etta Jones, which lasted over 30 years until her death in 2001. Recently he has performed with vocalist Barbara Morrison, the great Ernie Andrews and in the past has worked with Ernestine Anderson, Della Griffin and Dakota Staton.
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. In 1990, his recording with Ron Carter, Something in Common (Muse), won the Independent Jazz Record of the Year Award, and he received an Indie Award for his recording, Why Not? (Muse). Other awards have included the prestigious Eubie Blake Jazz Award (1982) and the Fred Hampton Scholarship Fund Image Award (1993), and he has been honored with a "Houston Person/Etta Jones Day" in Hartford County, MD, (1982) and in Washington, D.C. (1983) Houston Person has recorded over 150 albums as a leader on Prestige, Westbound, Mercury, Savoy, and Muse, which became HighNote Records. His HighNote recordings as both tenor artist and producer, My Buddy: Etta Jones Sings the Songs of Buddy Johnson and Etta Jones Sings Lady Day, were Grammy finalists in the Best Jazz Vocal category in 1999 and 2000, respectively. HighNote has issued a three-disc collection of some of his finest recordings along with four new tracks all recorded at the famed Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Entitled The Art and Soul of Houston Person, this is the first multi-disc retrospective of an artist’s recorded work to be issued by the label. Of Houston’s latest recordings, Remember Love is an eagerly-awaited new duo recording with the legendary bassist Ron Carter while Rain or Shine features the same winning combination of outstanding sonics, time-tested tunes and great jazz which has made Houston one of the most respected tenor saxophonists in jazz. In July 2019, Houston released I’m Just a Lucky So and So on HighNote Records. Houston was once again back in the Van Gelder Studio, now under the watchful eye of Van Gelder associate and protegé, Maureen Sickler.
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. Currently performing with Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and the Clayton Brothers or co-leading the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (the Grammy-nominated big band that provides backup for Diana Krall), this in-demand drummer brings his eponymous trio to The Jazz Cruise ‘16 for guests to revel in his sensational stylistics at the helm of a drum. Overflowing but well-deserved accolades include that of No. 1 jazz drummer in Modern Drummer Magazine’s reader’s poll, 2006 Musician of the Year (along with musical partner John Clayton) by the Los Angeles Jazz Society, and a No. 5 spot on the Gavin national jazz radio chart for It’s Hamilton Time by the Jeff Hamilton Trio. Featured in nearly 200 recordings – including 16 Grammy Award-winning titles – with the likes of Natalie Cole, Barbara Streisand, Mel Torme and Herb Ellis, Jeff also teaches, arranges and composes for the drums.
With universal acclaim, vocalist 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. AllMusic says, "Russell emerged as a retro old school vocalist for the ages."
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.
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.
Clarinetist-saxophonist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. The Jazz Journalists Association has voted Anat as Clarinetist of the Year eight years in a row, and she has topped both the Critics and Readers Polls in the clarinet category in DownBeat magazine every year since 2011. That’s not to mention years of being named Rising Star in the soprano and tenor saxophone categories in DownBeat, as well as for Jazz Artist of the Year. In 2009, ASCAP awarded Anat a Wall of Fame prize for composition and musicianship, among other honors. Earning this acclaim, Anat has toured the world with her quartet, headlining at the Newport, Umbria, SF Jazz and North Sea jazz festivals as well as at such hallowed clubs as New York’s Village Vanguard and at Columbia University’s prestigious Miller Theatre.
Anat was born in Tel Aviv, Israel, and moved to New York in 1999 after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she also developed a deep love for various Latin music styles. Anat soon began to bend ears and turn heads; whether playing clarinet, soprano saxophone or tenor saxophone, she won over the most knowing of jazz sages: Nat Hentoff praised her “bursting sound and infectious beat,” Dan Morgenstern her “gutsy, swinging” style, Ira Gitler her “liquid dexterity and authentic feeling,” and Gary Giddins her musicality “that bristles with invention.” Anat collaborates 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,” and is a fixture on the New York scene at such clubs as Birdland.
Etienne Charles is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Michigan State University, hailed by The New York Times as “an auteur,” and by Jazz Times as “a daring improviser who delivers with heart wrenching lyricism.” He has received critical acclaim for his exciting performances, thrilling compositions and knack for connecting with audiences worldwide. Perhaps more than any other musician of his generation or Eastern Caribbean origin, Etienne brings a careful study of myriad rhythms from the French, Spanish, English and Dutch speaking Caribbean to the table. Crucially, as a soloist, he fully understands the New Orleans trumpet tradition; which is readily discernible in his trademark instrumental swagger, and what famed Crescent City Pianist, Jelly Roll Morton so succinctly captured in the now immortal phrase, “The Spanish Tinge.” He has performed and/or recorded with Monty Alexander, Roberta Flack, Frank Foster, Ralph MacDonald, Johnny Mandel, Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Maria Schneider, Count Basie Orchestra, Eric Reed, Lord Blakie, David Rudder and many others. In June 2012, Etienne was written into the US Congressional Record for his musical contributions to Trinidad & Tobago and the World. He holds a master’s degree from the Juilliard School and a bachelor’s degree from Florida State University.
Steinway Artist and five-time Grammy Nominee Christian Sands is an emerging jazz force. His abundant piano technique perfectly matches his conception, accomplishing a much deeper musical goal: a fresh look at the entire language of jazz. Christian says, “My music is about teaching the way of jazz and keeping it alive.” Whether it’s stride, swing, bebop, progressive, fusion, Brazilian or Afro-Cuban, Sands develops the past while providing unusual and stimulating vehicles for the present… and for the future. He expresses himself through an extensive vocabulary of patterns, textures and structures, all the while maintaining a strong sense of understatement, sensitivity, taste and swing — hallmarks for as long as he has been playing.
Since arriving on the scene, Sands has shared the stage with such jazz luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Shelia E, Warren Wolf, Tia Fuller, Gary Burton, Stefon Harris, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jason Moran, Geri Allen, Ben Williams, Randy Brecker, Christian McBride, Avery Sharpe, James Moody, Bill Evans (sax), Russell Malone, Terence Blanchard, Louis Hayes, Patti Austin, Marcus Baylor, Craig Handy, Carl Allen, Kirk Whalum, and Wycliffe Gordon.
The power and prowess of his playing has taken him from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to the world-renowned Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival, to New York’s celebrated jazz clubs such as the Village Vanguard, Jazz Standard, Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club; and to international jazz clubs all over the world.
The Baltimore-born pianist was raised in a household filled with the sounds of gospel and jazz. Indeed, Cyrus Chestnut began playing in the church when he was just 5 years old, and that influence remains core to his piano style to this day. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Chestnut worked with Jon Hendricks, Terence Blanchard and Donald Harrison before joining Wynton Marsalis’s group. In addition, he performed and recorded with the legendary vocalist Betty Carter who encouraged the pianist to become more individualistic by taking chances and trying to surprise her. Chestnut released his debut album The Nutman Speaks (a reference to his nickname) in 1992. He has since gone on to record more than two dozen albums as a leader, including six for Atlantic Records.
The New York Daily News once heralded Chestnut as the rightful heir to Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Erroll Garner. The ever soulful and expressive Chestnut continually tours with his trio, playing at jazz festivals, as well as clubs and concert halls, around the world. His leadership and prowess as a soloist have also led him to be a first-call pianist in many big bands including the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band. Chestnut’s most recent recording is Kaleidoscope (HighNote) which features jazz renditions of compositions by Mozart, Debussy, Satie and others.
A consummate entertainer, writer, recording artist and vocalist, Clint Holmes has had a diverse 40-plus year career in theater, film, television and music. The son of an American jazz musician and a British opera singer, Holmes was destined for a life on the stage. Whether he is singing selections from contemporary classics or his own original pieces, every performance is a one-of-a-kind experience.
As a favorite Las Vegas performer, Holmes headlined at his own Clint Holmes Theater at Harrah’s from 2000 to 2006. From 2012 through 2017, Holmes served as the Artist-In-Residence for Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, performing to sell-out crowds each month. His show Between the Lines, was featured at the Palazzo Theater in 2016 and 2017. Clint’s Las Vegas awards include “Casino Entertainer of the Year,” six-time “Best Male Singer” from the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Best Singer” (two years in a row) from Broadway.com in both NYC and Las Vegas, “Best All-Around Las Vegas Performer,” and “Favorite Male Las Vegan.” In addition to his numerous appearances in Las Vegas, Holmes regularly performs at clubs and theaters around the United States.
Holmes’ 2018 album Rendezvous featured a mix of jazz standards, classic pop hits and Great American Songbook compositions and was nominated for a Grammy.
The Jazz Cruise Leaders
Music director of The Jazz Cruise and a three-time Grammy nominee, mainstream jazz pianist Shelly Berg brings a wealth of knowledge and unrivaled talent to our program. Entering the Cleveland Institute of Music at age 6, Shelly has since amassed accolades and performance credentials that only the best of the best can boast. His CD, Blackbird, soared to No. 1 in U.S. jazz radio and garnered “Record of the Year” and “Artist of the Year” nominations from Jazzweek. He has performed and recorded in collaboration with jazz legends including Ray Brown, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, Peter Erskine, Branford Marsalis, Gregg Field, Chuck Berghofer, Dave Grusin, Woody Herman, Arturo Sandoval, Clark Terry and Bill Watrous. Other musical endeavors have teamed him up with Gloria Estefan, Patti Austin, Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Michael Feinstein, Renée Fleming, Gregory Porter, Aretha Franklin, Tierney Sutton, Janelle Monáe, Queen Latifa, Lorraine Feather, Monica Mancini, Rita Moreno, Ricky Martin, Kevin Spacey, Dionne Warwick, Carmen Bradford and many more. Previously the McCoy/Sample Professor of Jazz Studies at the USC Thornton School of Music, Shelly is currently Dean of the Phillip and Patricia Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
The Jazz Cruise is excited feature bassist John Clayton, a composer, arranger and conductor who learned his trade starting at age 16 from the great Ray Brown, in its 2016 lineup. With a Grammy and eight additional nominations under his belt, John cites arranging “The Star Spangled Banner” for Whitney Houston’s performance at Super Bowl XXIV in 1990, playing bass on Paul McCartney’s CD Kisses On The Bottom, and arranging and playing bass with Yo-Yo Ma and Friends on Songs of Joy and Peace among the most notable moments of his career. Over the years, John’s mentors and influencers have included Robert Farnon, Count Basie, Johnny Mandel, Henry Mancini and Quincy Jones. Early in his profession, he toured with the Monty Alexander Trio and the Count Basie Orchestra. Later, he held the principal bass chair in the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for more than five years and had a run as artistic director of jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1998 to 2001. Over the course of his career, John has collaborated with Milt Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Ray Brown, Regina Carter, McCoy Tyner, Carmen McRae, Quincy Jones, Diana Krall, Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Michael Bublé and many others. With brother Jeff Clayton on reeds, he’s graced many stages as part of The Clayton Brothers Quintet. He’s also an integral part – and co-founder – of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. Eager to share his talent, John frequently participates in jazz workshops and music clinics around the world.
Multifaceted jazz pianist and composer Emmet Cohen is one of this generation’s pivotal artistic figures. Downbeat praised the "nimble touch, measured stride and warm harmonic vocabulary" he employs to communicate with other musicians and audiences at what he terms "the deepest level of humanity and individuality."
Leader of the "Emmet Cohen Trio," Cohen is an international jazz artist and clinician who inspires student performers of all ages to become, like himself, responsive to their audiences. He has appeared in the Newport, Monterey, and North Sea jazz festivals, among others, and at many famous music venues, including Rose Hall and the Kennedy Center. Cohen has also played in legendary nightspots, such as the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Jazz Standard, Ronnie Scott's, and Jazzhaus Montmartre. He is Hammond B-3 organist-in-residence at Harlem's SMOKE jazz club. A Suzuki piano student at age 3, Cohen holds jazz piano degrees from the Manhattan School of Music (M.M.) and the University of Miami (B.M.).
He was a finalist in both the American Pianists Association's Cole Porter Fellowship (2015, 2011) and the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition (2011). Cohen has performed 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.
Jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker has helped shape 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 and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.
Randy’s musical talent was nurtured from an early age. He moved to New York where he landed gigs with such prominent bands as Clark Terry’s Big Bad Band, the Duke Pearson Big Band and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. In 1967, Randy ventured into jazz-rock with the band Blood, Sweat and Tears. He recorded his first solo album, Score, in 1968, featuring a young, then unknown 19 year-old tenor saxophonist named Michael Brecker. Randy joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers before teaming up with brother Michael, Barry Rogers, Billy Cobham, and John Abercrombie to form the seminal fusion group Dreams.
In the early 1970s, Randy performed live with many prominent artists including Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, Stevie Wonder and Billy Cobham. He also recorded several classic albums with his brother under the leadership of the great pianist/composer Hal Galper. By 1975, Randy and Michael were ready to front their own group, the Brecker Brothers Band. A band of immeasurable impact and influence, they released six albums on Arista 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.”
Randy won his first Grammy as a solo artist for Into the Sun, featuring his impressions of Brazil, in 1997. 34th n’ Lex, won him his third Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album in 2003; In 2007, Randy was awarded his fourth Grammy for Randy Brecker Live with the WDR Big Band and Randy in Brasil, recorded in Sao Paulo, was chosen one of the top 10 CDs of 2008 by AllAboutJazz.com and earned him Grammy #5.
A Brecker Brothers Band Reunion tour of European festivals in the summer of 2013 re-introduced the familiar faces of Brecker Brothers Band members from the past and their special brand of music to sell-out crowds.
As a composer, performer and in-demand Yamaha clinician, Randy Brecker continues to influence and inspire young musicians around the world.
Wycliffe Gordon experiences an impressive career touring the world performing to great acclaim from audiences and critics alike.
Jazz Journalists Association named him 2020 “Trombonist of the Year” for the record-breaking 13th time, and he’s topped DownBeat Critics Poll for “Best Trombone” again for an unprecedented six times (2020, 2018, 2016, 2014, 2013 & 2012). Last year he was the recipient of the “Louie Award”, the International Trombone Award and the Satchmo Award, among others. Wycliffe is a prolific recording artist and is extremely popular for his unmatched signature sound, plunger technique and unique vocals. He can be heard on hundreds of recordings, soundtracks, live DVD’s and documentaries.
In addition to an exceptionally successful solo career, Gordon tours regularly leading his quintet, headlining at legendary jazz venues and performing arts centers throughout the world. He is commissioned frequently, and has an extensive catalog of original compositions that span the various timbres of jazz and chamber music. Musicians and ensembles of every caliber perform his music throughout the world and his arrangement of the theme song to NPR’s All Things Considered is heard daily across the globe.
Gordon is a former veteran member of the Wynton Marsalis Septet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and has been a featured guest artist on Billy Taylor's Jazz at the Kennedy Center Series. Gordon is also one of America’s most persuasive and committed music educators, and serves as Director of Jazz Studies at Augusta University in Augusta, GA.
Wycliffe Gordon is a Yamaha Performing Artist and has his own line of Wycliffe Gordon Pro Signature Mouthpieces by Pickett Brass.
Though her career has taken her well beyond the jazz circuit, Niki Haris’s roots are are in the jazz circuit, but her career has taken her well beyond it. The daughter of Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Gene Haris, Niki and her father released two albums and a live CD before his death in 2000. Carrying on his legacy in jazz, she’s released solo albums, toured Europe with her jazz quartet, and starred in the touring production of “Billie & Me,” a celebration of the life of Billie Holiday. In addition to 18 years of recording and touring with Madonna, Niki has lent her voice to projects of Ray Charles, David Sanborn, Patrice Rushen, Michael Sembello, Leann Rimes, Michelle Branch, Santana, Kylie Minogue, Luther Vandross, All Saints, Wilton Felder of the Jazz Crusaders, Stanley Turrentine, the Righteous Brothers, Julian Lennon, Anita Baker, Mick Jagger and Whitney Houston. She’s also been featured in the soundtracks of Corrina Corrina, The Big Green, Coyote Ugly and 20th Century Fox’s Anastasia. Meanwhile, she’s pursued other artistic passions with great success as well, including staging scenes for Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, choreographing for the television series Melrose Place,” and appeared with in Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat.
Playing his first professional gig in elementary school, Ken Peplowski has spent his life – along with many a wedding and high school Polka band engagement – mastering the clarinet. With just a year of college under his belt, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow. In 1980, he moved to New York City and, shortly thereafter, was hired by Benny Goodman to play tenor saxophone in his new band. Considering himself an interpreter of material who thrives on putting his own spin on music of various genres, Ken was inducted into The Jazz Cruise Hall of Fame in 2013 and returned for an encore performance on The Jazz Cruise 2016. With a diverse repertoire of Italian folk songs, avant-garde jazz, pop and classical music, the jazz clarinetist and tenor saxophonist has recorded approximately 50 CDs as a soloist and nearly 400 as a sideman. He’s collaborated with the likes of 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 and Erich Kunzel.
A regular panel member on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, Blue Note at Sea comic and event host Alonzo Bodden has been making audiences around the country laugh for more than 20 years.
Alonzo’s first big comedy break came when he was on the “New Faces of Comedy” showcase at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal. However, it was as the season three winner of NBCʼs Last Comic Standing, where Alonzo was first introduced to America. Since then, he has starred in two comedy specials for Showtime: Historically Incorrect and Who’s Paying Attention. His television appearances include ABC’s Dr. Ken and Fresh Off the Boat, Dr. Phil, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and Californication.
A car and motorcycle aficionado, Alonzo hosted Speed Channel’s 101 Cars You Must Drive and America’s Worst Driver on the Travel Channel. He’s also joined Jay Leno for several off-road trips on his CNBC series Jay Leno’s Garage. Alonzo was a field correspondent on Animal Nation with Anthony Anderson, and a contributor on the Science Channel’s How to Build Everything.
Alonzo released his fifth comedy CD titled Man Overboard in 2018. He currently hosts the podcast Who’s Paying Attention? and his own daily radio show on KBLA-AM 1580 in Los Angeles where he gives his unique take on what’s going on in the world.
In August 2019, Alonzo starred in his fourth stand-up special, Alonzo Bodden: Heavy Lightweight, which premiered exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. In the special, he touches upon a range of topics from slavery, cell phones and the #MeToo movement, to millennials, Kanye West and Taco Bell.
Alonzo has been the comic in residence for Jazz Cruises for many years now and has become one of the leaders and drivers of our program.
All-Stars & Big Band
Rhythm Is My Business is the title of his debut recording as a leader, and rhythm is a booming business as far as Lewis Nash is concerned. He is the drummer of choice for an incredible array of artists – from the masters of the music to the hottest young players of today – and is equally in demand as a clinician and educator.
World-renowned bassist Ron Carter hired Nash in 1984, and in 1986, saxophonist Branford Marsalis asked Lewis to join his quartet. In 1989, Nash toured with legendary saxophonist Sonny Rollins. From 1990 to 2000, Lewis was a member of the Tommy Flanagan Trio, and is featured on seven CD recordings with the late piano master. During this period, Nash also toured and recorded with both the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. His impressive discography (over 300 recordings) includes projects with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Hank Jones and John Lewis, as well as new jazz stars Diana Krall, Joe Lovano and Roy Hargrove. Demonstrating his stylistic diversity, Nash is also featured on recordings by Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Nancy Wilson, Kenny Rankin, Melissa Manchester and George Michael. Currently, while he continues to perform and record with a wide variety of artists, Nash leads several of his own exciting groups, from duo to septet.
James Morrison is, by anybody’s standard, a virtuoso in the true sense of the word. Besides the trumpet, this multi-instrumentalist also plays piano, all the brass, saxophones, and double bass. At only age sixteen, James debuted in the USA with a breathtaking concert at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Following this were performances at the major festivals of Europe including Montreux, Pori and the North Sea, playing with many of the legends of jazz; Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Cab Calloway, Woody Shaw, Red Rodney, George Benson, Ray Charles, B.B. King and Wynton Marsalis to name a few. There were also gigs in the world’s most famous jazz clubs – The Blue Note and Village Vanguard in New York, the New Morning in Paris, The Tokyo Blue Note and Ronnie Scotts in London.
James Morrison’s career thus far has been diverse and perhaps not typical of most jazz musicians. He recorded Jazz Meets the Symphony with The London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lalo Schifrin, performed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for Princess Anne. Royal command performances on two occasions for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and for US Presidents Bush & Clinton at Parliament House in Australia. James has also performed his own ‘Concerto for Euphonium’ with the Tonkünstler Orchestra at the Muskverein in Vienna. In 2000 James composed and performed the opening fanfare for the Olympic Games in Sydney. James spends much time in education, doing master classes and workshops all over the world and presenting the James Morrison Jazz Scholarship at Generations in Jazz.
Renee Rosnes is one of the premier jazz pianists and composers of her generation. Upon moving to New York City from Vancouver, she quickly established a reputation of high regard, touring and recording with such masters as Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, J.J. Johnson, James Moody, and legendary bassist Ron Carter. She was a charter member of the all-star ensemble, the SFJAZZ Collective, with whom she toured for six years.
As a leader, Ms. Rosnes has released 17 acclaimed recordings. In 2016, Written in the Rocks (Smoke Sessions) was named one of ten Best Jazz Albums of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, one of the Best Albums in all genres of music by The Nation, and was awarded a 2017 Canadian Juno (her fifth Juno award). JazzTimes wrote, “Ms. Rosnes delivers conceptual heft, suspenseful compositions and mesmerizing performances,” and DownBeat praised it as “an exceptional achievement” stating “Rosnes is a virtuoso composer.”
Renee has produced concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Renee is also the music director for ARTEMIS, a new international all-star band featuring the vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, clarinetist Anat Cohen, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Allison Miller. Rosnes is married to jazz pianist Bill Charlap, and the two often perform in a two-piano setting. The duo was featured on four tracks from the 2015 Grammy award winning album Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap: The Silver Lining.
Award-winning jazz pianist Tamir Hendelman has performed with the Jeff Hamilton Trio, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Harry Allen, Teddy Edwards, Warren Vache, Houston Person, Jeff Clayton, Nick Brignola, Phil Upchurch, Rickey Woodard, John Clayton and Barbara Morrison. He also leads his own trio and his debut CD Playground features him in this trio setting. Beginning his keyboard studies at age 6 in Tel Aviv, Tamir moved to the US at age 12 in 1984, winning Yamaha’s national keyboard competition 2 years later at age 14. He became the youngest musical director for Lovewell Institute, a national arts education non-profit organization. Tamir joined the Jeff Hamilton Trio in 2000, contributing arrangements, recording and touring Japan, Europe and the US. In 2001, he became a member of the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra. He has recorded for John Pizzarelli, Gladys Knight and Diana Krall. He is the pianist/arranger on Jackie Ryan’s You and the Night and the Music and Janis Mann’s A Perfect Time. He is also featured on Natalie Cole’s Still Unforgettable and Barbara Streisand’s upcoming recording. In his own trio, he explores standards, Brazilian music, blues and his Israeli roots.
With 12 recordings as a leader, more than 200 as a sideman and eight Grammy awards to his name, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan has set the bar high in the world of jazz. Winner of the 2014 DownBeat Readers Poll, the 2009 and 2011 DownBeat Critics Poll, the 2009 and 2010 Jazz Journalist Award, and the 2011 Jazz Times Critics and Readers Polls, Gary played early in his career with Woody Herman’s Young Thundering Herd, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, the Mingus Big Band and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. These days he is a regular member of the Dave Holland Big Band and Octet, The Joe Lovano Nonet, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band. The in-demand musician also has collaborated with the likes of Diana Ross, Ray Charles and B.B. King. Gary is currently an adjunct professor of jazz saxophone at Amherst College, and The Jazz Cruise looks forward to him “schooling” its audiences during the cruise.
Rickey Woodard was born in Nashville, Tennessee, where he played in a family band with his brothers and sisters, playing Blues and R&B around the Nashville area. Rickey came up listening to such greats as Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt. Rickey’s favorite saxophone players are Hank Mobley and George Coleman. After leaving Nashville, Rickey went to California and joined the Ray Charles Band. After eight great years, Rickey decided to pursue a solo career as both a leader and a sideman. Currently, he performs live frequently leading his own quartet and quintet as well as performing and recording with The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Frank Capp Juggernaut Band.
He has performed and recorded with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra, The Temptations, Nancy Wilson and many others. Rickey has over 200 original compositions and extensive experience arranging for quartets and quintets. His latest recording, Pineapple Delight, consists of all original compositions arranged for a quintet.
Jon Hamar is a versatile artist who’s ability to find a tasteful, unique voice in any musical situation has made him a staple in the music scene. Hamar’s friendly nature, sense of humor and work ethic has kept him busy as a freelance bassist in multiple performance genres.
Jon was born in Kennewick, Washington. He began playing the string bass at age 11 and a year later began playing the electric bass as well. Jon’s parents are musical and Jon grew up listening to his father play gospel, boogie woogie and classical music at the piano and his mother play the oboe and sing at church.
Jon earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Double Bass Performance from Eastern Washington University and a masters degree in Jazz and Contemporary Media from the Eastman School of Music.
In 2001, Hamar relocated to Seattle, Washington, and was in high demand as a freelance bassist. Hamar performed for four years with jazz and blues great Ernestine Anderson as well as Northwest notables such as Greta Matassa, Jim Knapp, Randy Halberstadt, Dawn Clement, Kelley Johnson and John Hansen. In 2012, Jon joined the faculty at the Centrum Jazz Workshop under the Artistic Direction of John Clayton. In fall 2015, Hamar joined the faculty at the Natalie Haslam School of Music at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Italian native Ada Rovatti started playing saxophone in high school after years of classical piano training. After winning a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Italy, she divided herself between Boston where she studied with Joe Viola and George Garzone, and Italy, where she was working in Big Bands with guest artists such as Phil Woods, Lee Konitz and many others. After spending one year in Paris touring Europe and Africa, she moved to New York City. She has performed with an impressive and diverse list of artists and bands such as Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Miroslav Vitous, John McLaughlin, James Moody, Anne Ducros, Bob Mintzer, Victor Bailey, Joanne Brackeen, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jimmy Heath, Patti Austin and many others. In addition to her musical expertise, Ada appeared in the movie Mona Lisa Smile featuring Julia Roberts.
In 2003, she released her first 2 CDs as a bandleader with the Elephunk Band and with her quartet with guests Randy Brecker, Mike Stern and Don Alias. She also appears on the Grammy CD 34th N Lex by Randy Brecker (best contemporary jazz Album of 2003) and on the acclaimed CD of John McLaughlin Industrial Zen (2006). Her 2005 release Airbop; featuring guest artists Bob Mintzer, Randy Brecker and Don Alias; was nominated by one of the critics of All About Jazz as one of the top ten CDs of the year. Her latest band leader album Green Factor is a unique recording with a melting pot of irish/celtic/jazz/fusion influences with strong harmonies and sophisticated arrangements with guest artists Adam Rogers, Randy Brecker and Ivan Goff. She just released her new album DISGUISE featuring Zach Brock, Janek Gwizdala, Dana Hawkins, Randy Brecker, Dean Brown, Anne Drummond, Leo Genovese, Oli Rockberger and Adam Rogers.
John Fedchock has been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene for decades. The revered bandleader and master of the trombone has been wowing audiences and fellow musicians since his debut with the Woody Herman Orchestra in 1980. Today, his 16-piece John Fedchock New York Big Band and the John Fedchock New York Sextet are staples on the international jazz festival circuit. In his 35-year career, the critically acclaimed trombone soloist has earned a Grammy nomination, released nearly two dozen recordings, and toured with T.S. Monk, Gerry Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band, Louie Bellson’s Big Band, the Bob Belden Ensemble, the Manhattan Jazz Orchestra and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Renowned for his dense voicings, thick ensemble writing and unique, swinging lines, John also is a celebrated arranger and composer destined to make a lasting impression on big band music.
Jennifer Wharton is a low brass specialist based in New York City. Though getting her start classically, Jen has deep roots in jazz, commercial, chamber and Broadway music. These days, Jennifer can be found leading her trombone-forward ensemble, Bonegasm, and performing in West Side Story. She has also held positions at King Kong, Beautiful, The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Jekyll and Hyde, Scandalous, Wonderland, 9 to 5 and Curtains.
Jen is a member of two multiple Grammy-nominated ensembles, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society and Alan Ferber Big Band. She has also performed on the Grammy-nominated cast albums for The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess, 9 to 5: The Musical and Curtains: The Musical as well as the Grammy-winning recording of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. She also teaches bass trombone at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
She has performed and/or recorded with ensembles including the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, Ken Peplowski Big Band, Miggy Augmented Jazz Orchestra, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Birdland Big Band, Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, Woody Herman Orchestra, Terraza 7 Big Band, John Yao and his 17-piece Instrument, Walking Distance, South Florida Jazz Orchestra, new Alchemy Jazz Orchestra, Steven Feifke Big Band, and the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop.
Introduced to the saxophone by his father, Dick Oatts’ career began in the Midwest but took off once New York City got its hands on him in the late 70s. Along with the Thad Jones – Mel Lewis Orchestra, his big band experience includes performances with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Mel Lewis, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Lester Bowie, Joe Lovano, Sam Jones-Tom Harrell, Paquito d’Rivera, Jim McNeely, Tito Puente, Kenny Wheeler and Gunther Schuller. Vocalists like Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Neene Freelon, Mel Torme and Milton Nascimento have relied on his talents, as have pop artists Luther Vandross, James Taylor and Everything But the Girl. Dick has also appeared in recordings and tours with Red Rodney, Eddie Gomez, Vic Juric, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis, Dom Salvador, Jerry Bergonzi, Flim & the BB’s, Fred Hersch, Dave Berkman, Soren Moller, Terell Stafford, Jon Faddis, Lalo Schiffrin, and Ray Mantilla. A professor of Jazz Studies at the Boyer School of Music at Temple University, Dick also is an artist-in-residence at the Amsterdam Conservatory. The Jazz Cruise is privileged to include an artist of this caliber in its lineup.
Described as “one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” (Wall Street Journal) Bria Skonberg 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 New York Rangers game.
Originally from the small town of Chilliwack, British Columbia, and a bandleader since her teens, Bria has performed festivals and stages the world over. In 2016, Bria released her debut LP which won a Canadian JUNO award and made the Top 5 on Billboard jazz charts; her music has over 7 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. 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 Cécile McLorin Salvant, Christian Sands, Melissa Aldana and Jamison Ross. 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.
Jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs is one of the most diversely prolific and acclaimed artists working in music today. The success of his talent and work are affirmed by his 16 Grammy® nominations and 5 Grammy® Awards.
Born in Los Angeles in 1957, Childs was already proficient at the piano by age 6; he was accepted in USC’s Community School For The Performing Arts at age 16, studying music theory and piano with some of the world’s most renowned musical scholars. He graduated from USC in 1979 with a degree in composition. Early influences included Herbie Hancock, Keith Emerson, and Chick Corea, with classical composers such as Paul Hindemith, Maurice Ravel, and Igor Stravinsky influencing his love of composition. Childs had early-career apprenticeships with legendary jazz trombonist J.J. Johnson, and trumpet great Freddie Hubbard, in the late 1970s / early 1980s.
Childs’ multiple musical interests also include collaborations, arrangements, and productions for other acclaimed artists, including Yo Yo Ma, The Kronos Quartet, Wynton Marsalis, Sting, Chris Botti, and Leonard Slatkin.
Multi-GRAMMY nominated drummer Eric Harland is one the most in-demand drummers of his generation. He has been on close to 200 recordings at his age of 36 and has been recognized in the New York Times, Boston Globe, JazzTimes, Modern Drummer, The New Yorker, DownBeat, L’uomo Vogue and other prominent publications.
His current list of performing groups are James Farm with Joshua Redman, Prism with Dave Holland and Kevin Eubanks, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Zakir Hussain, Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Overtown with Dave Holland, Jason Moran, and Chris Potter, and Voyager, Eric’s own widely recognized group. But Eric doesn’t stop there, he also manages to fit in many collaborations with world renowned artist like Les Claypool, the band Dispatch, John Mayer, Spike Lee, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson from American Idol, and more.