Click on the pictures to see a gallery of the day...Enjoy!
Day 0 - Barcelona | Day 1 - On Board | Day 2 - At Sea | Day 3 - Naples | Day 4 - Rome | Day 5 - Livorno | Day 6 - Nice | Day 7 - Toulon
Around 5pm, the party started with a welcome at the pool & bar of the hotel. Until 7pm we met so many people, from artists to crew and staff of the cruise. We spoke with Pat Prescott (from 94.7 The Wave), Marc Parnell (UK drummer, known from his gigs at The Pizza Express in London with many smooth jazz artists), Dave Koz, Marc Antoine, Amber Jones (cruise host, she did a great job), Michael Lington (and his proud parents), Gregg Karukas (musical director of the cruise), Christian Bößner (from smooth jazz events in Germany), and so on.
This party was mostly a great meet & greet among the artists and invited cruise guests - therefore a great party which felt like a family reunion!
And of course, Dave Koz said hi to all of us and was very proud that his European cruise was about to start!
On arriving at the terminal and after checking in, we were ready to explore this ship. From its immense interior with all the elevators and balconies, the fantastic buffet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the shops, to the main concert hall (Tropical Theatre) and smaller Safari Club.
And at the mandatory life boat at 4.15pm we already saw some friends again!
After the party, the music inside the ship immediate continued. With solo performances of Paul Brown and Rick Braun/ Elan Trotman with the UK Collective (band of UK sidemen) at the smaller venues, and of course the main shows with Michael Lington and Jonathan Butler. These shows were of course opened by the man himself...Dave Koz! Dressed as a Spanish torreador, he started the musical events of the cruise with a great performance!
But the shows of Michael Lington and Jonathan were fantastic. It's almost unbelievable that these concerts take place on this cruise - and that for the next 6 days as well!
Nathan East talked about his incredible career, playing with Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Toto and of course Fourplay. He played some beautiful songs on his 6 string bass, but the highlight was the moment Patti Austin and Dave Koz accompanied him in the cosy Schooner Bar! As Andy Williams just passed away, they improvised (i.e. no rehearsal!) the song "Moon River", sung so many times by Andy Williams. This really was one of the highlights of all week! What a fantastic, emotional moment! Wow!
Dave's mom, Audrey, was famous of her cookies! And her recipes were handed over to Dave's sister, Roberta. A fun moment in the "Centrum" on deck 4 was cooking class by Dave and Roberta. And Dave, being a warm family man, was proud to have his sister, brother Jeff and also one of his aunts on board.
Being on board with all these great artists, it's always nice to give the guests the opportunity to get some autographs. The artists were everywhere around the ship, and so where the guests! Armed with posters, cd covers, the special Dave Koz Cruise hats, T-shirts, and so on...every item was carefully signed. Even our captain, Karen (from Sweden) had her own autograph session!
But not only autographs from the artist, questions could be asked as well. And in the full Dave Koz Cruise tradition, these Q&A are lots of fun with of course live jamming! Jonathan, Butler, Marc Antoine, Paul Brown, Raul Midon, Chuck Loeb and Norman Brown answered any question - speaking and playing!
The Gospel Show, led by Jonathan Butler, is always a very special moment. Whether you are religious, spiritual or not, this show was all about love and sharing and being together. It's for the musicians also a very great and warm moment to share their music with the guests. And they love to play some special songs, e.g. some great ballads. But energetic and uplifting music was certainly present!
After the main shows of Rick Braun and Norman Brown, this full day was ended at the Schooner Bar (which was THE place to be during late night hours!) with some jams by Michael Lington, Rick Braun and Dave Koz - all dressed in red which was the theme of this great day - "Red in the Med".
To make your plans on a day in a port of call mostly results in a mix of excursions, visiting the city and attending great on-board activities and performances. This day it was not hard for us, because we were invited to a meeting with other representatives of the smooth jazz genre in Europe at 4pm.
So we walked around in some nice and old shopping streets of Naples and got aboard in time for the meeting.
One of the reasons SmoothJazz Europe was invited by Dave Koz for this cruise was that he wanted to have a meeting of European groups of smooth jazz representatives. So besides us, Jimi King and Steve Quirk from UK (smooth jazz) radiostations, and Christian Bößner from the German smooth jazz festival at Augsburg were present. This meeting was hosted by Cameron Smith and it was a great opportunity to talk together and join forces for promoting smooth jazz and the idea behind the Dave Koz cruise. Well done Dave for bringing us together!
That same afternoon, the legendary Bob James gave a masterclass. It's almost unbelievable that this is all happening on board!
But other performances were scheduled as well. In the evening, after some dinner in the buffet restaurant, we saw the great and always funny Patty Austin doing her show. If you have never been to a concert of hers, please do so asap! First of al her great voice is one of the most warm and powerful in the world. With all the fantastic songs she recorded during her career, it's a pleasure to hear her singing it live. But her humorous character must be mentioned too! Whether she's doing "Baby come to me" with James Ingram's part done by her as well(!), or talking to the camera-crew to step aside while she sings the most emotional song you can imagine, or commanding us to stop clapping because she has only 55 minutes for a 3 hour repertoire! Patti is the best!
After her ahow, Brian Culbertson entered the stage. And wow, what funky and full of energy is his show! Backed up by the ship's band horn section - great musicians! - he played his piano, his trombone, and moved us all! Great one, Culby, thanks!
After the main shows, Chuck Loeb, Nathan East and others performed all around the ship! Not to forget the extremely funny show of stand up comedian Ralph Harris!
It was a nice in day Naples - next stop: Rome!
Beside the main shows of this, by Marc Antoine and Michael Bulton (his first cruise ever!), the real top-act was the battle of the basses, down at the Centrum on deck 4.
Hosted by Nathan East, the four bassplayers on board gave the greatest show you can ever imagine! Nathan East, Mel Brown, CC Thomas and (UK Collective bassplayer) Frank Felix, accompanied by the great Ricky Lawson on drums, played all kinds of funky and groovy soul hits of the past decades! As Nathan told us, many many hits can be recognized by their bassline, so that's what they did: start a famous bassline and everybody immediately sang and danced along! It was a great party!
Lots of people, including a lot of artists as well, gathered around the Centrum to be part of this show. And a lot of Youtube clips will be posted of this moment, probably also by the amateur filmers Gregg Karukas and Bob James :-)
When we left the harbour, towed by special ships, a new cruise ship came in. We had a great view on these maritime activities. And while leaving Civitavecchia and starting the nightly fun on board, we headed for a last Italian port of call: Livorno...
The afternoon was filled with these great on-board activities like "Billiards and beer" with Rick Braun, Masterclass with Norman Brown, but also the "So You Think You Can Jam" finals...the guests talent show. And talented guests there were! Judged by a jury of Dave Koz, Patti Austin, Ralph Harris and Jim Gosnell, the winner could win the prize for performing on Dave's main show that evening!
Speaking of which, that night Dave Koz had his own show. And shows of Dave are always fantastic with great entertainment but on a cruise like this, it's even better! Backed up by Dave Hooper (drums), Ronnie Gutierrez (percussion), Mel Brown (bass), Ross Bolton (guitar) and musical director Gregg Karukas (keyboards) and with special guests like Norman Brown, Brian Culbertson, Jonathan Butler a great show was guaranteed. Each show is always introduced by a movie from the earlier days of the artist, i.e. for Dave the early 90s. And from that period, the band members helped Dave think back of his haircut at time!
One of the most wonderful moments was the duet Dave did with a 16 year old young boy, Austin, who is a friend of Dave's and had overcome heavy illness. But what a fantastic saxophone player! Wow!
There was also a guest appearance by his brother Jeff Koz, who had co-written so many songs. And when Dave ended his show with "You make me smile", it was indeed a special grand finale: almost all artists on board ran onto the stage to support Dave. Awesome!
Before we left the ship we participated in a TV show, hosted by...Dave Koz! The production team had set up a small talkshow on deck where Dave interviewed some guests and us as well, as part of a promotion video for next year. And as Dave was mentally preparing for the show, the production team set up the set.
The funny part was when the producer introduced us to Dave, not knowing that we know Dave personally! "I know these guys!", Dave said! We all had a great time...curious how this video will show up!
Next thing was to decide where to go...to Nice or to...Monaco! We took the train to Monaco, from the small local train station it took us only 15 minutes to travel to Monaco! And that was of course a fantastic idea! We noticed, however that other guests - recognizable through the familiar hats - had the same idea.
We walked around in Monaco and looked at all these amazing yacht. But we also noticed a dino-sax... Maybe next year's mascot for the cruise?
Back on board again there was a party going on at the pool. DW3 played and people were dancing, even the ships' crew as they have never experienced such a great party on their ship! Brian Culbertson enjoyed the afternoon and some people were glad they could cool off their warm feet of all the excursions! It was a relaxing moment before the great party that night...DK All Starts NEON night!
All Star Night on a Dave Koz Cruise is always so much fun, especially when the theme is Neon Night! Everybody was already dressed up with all kinds of neon attributes when the show started with Dave Koz, Michael Lington, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson walking through the audience and down the aisle, having their instruments wrapped in neon lights!
And all artists showed up, doing their own songs or helping the others: Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, DW3, Dave Koz, Norman Brown, Patti Austin, Gregg Karukas, Elan Trotman, Paul Brown, Michael Lington, Jonathan Butler, Brian Culbertson. And in the end the stage was packed with all these musicians, having the biggest party, together with the audience! Wow, can you imagine that on a cruise ship?
Besides the show near the pool, there were some more activities around the ship. What about a rehearsal of Paul Brown with the UK Collective or bingo with Brian Culbertson?
And when our last evening on board started with a beautiful sunset, and we were puzzling in our minds how to pack everything in our suitcases, we made ourselves ready for the last main show...Fourplay!
A show by Fourplay is something special: 4 jazz legends on one stage - Bob James, Nathan East, Chuck Loeb, Harvey Mason - with the finest compositions and fantastic sound! By the way, every show in the Tropical Theatre had outstanding sound, this whole week.
But this Fourplay show was even more special with guest appearances by Dave Koze and Patti Austin. You could see that Dave felt honored to be part of this group.
But this night was also the night of saying goodbye, and at the beginning of the show Dave thanked us all for being part of this great week!
Thank you Dave, see you next year!