Here's a toast to Carol and Bob Neumann for 25 years of wonderful JazzSea cruises. Their silver anniversary cruise Jan. 5-15 in the Caribbean was our ninth on what we call "great jazz in the key of sea."
Holland America's Maasdam was filled by 1,000 jazz fans. About 125 jammers and banjoists played in a dozen jam bands organized by Dick Williams and in Tim Allan's Banjos Aweigh aggregation.
Islands where we took walking or taxi tours were St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Martinique, Tortola, B.V.I, and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. The main bands, all JazzSea regulars, were the Buck Creek, Climax, Grand Dominion, Jean Kittrell's St. Louis Rivermen and Bob Schulz's Frisco jazz bands. Tex Wyndham led 10 sets of "friends" from various bands, and the Tamiami Tailgators of Naples, Fla., played six sets. Pianist Karla West also led jams, and the Tonyjude English Connection played several sets. Harmonica players organized by Dr. Jim Gover played at Half Moon Cay.
The Neumanns were honored for pioneering theme cruises in 1982. Their 47 cruises since then have gone 22 times in the Caribbean, eight in Alaska, five in Mexico, three in New England, two in Hawaii and one each in the Mediterranean, Tahiti, the Baltic, British Isles and Central America.
Coming next are seven-day cruises in Alaska in late July and the Caribbean next January. Contact JazzSea@aol.com for details. My wife, Ruth, and I are hooked on these reunions of jazz friends from all over, nearly non-stop music and seeing new destinations.
Back on dry land, jazz was jumping in our Suncoast area. Sarasota Jazz Club monthly concerts at Harmony House in Venice staged saxophonist Jim Wellen's quartet in January and singer Dick Smolens in February with David Pruyn's trio that hosts jams there on Tuesdays.