Chasing Music: Capital Jazz SuperCruise, Days 3 and 4

I will admit that I have broken my own word when we were en route to Puerto Rico, and have gone into a spa.

If you know me, then you know very well that I am not a girly-girl. I love my sweats very much. I love taking long walks. I’m practical to a fault, and the only time I get a massage is right before my chiropractor makes my back go krak! to break the tension in my spine.

So, considering that I am on a damn vacation and I have severe trouble relaxing – as Steve Butler will tell you, since he was among the people who ordered me to stop working! – I decided, screw it, I’m going to the spa and getting a hot stone massage.

Hands down, it’s one of the best decisions that I made through this entire trip, right up there with going on this entire trip. I have completely drifted off in that massage room, and the music was piano version of various Luther Vandross songs. I love me some Luther once in a while, but Luther in what could only be Jim Brickman’s piano, combined with the feeling of heated polished rocks on tense muscles, makes for an entirely different experience. Aaahhh, a SuperCruise indeed.

I will also confess that I ducked out of the shows on that day, in part inspired by the hot stone massage, and in another, I just sat down and edited Book 3, and for the first time in months, I enjoyed it.

For dinner, I skipped the traditional, dressed up in my best heels, and went to Harry’s Steakhouse, where I had what could only be the best filet mignon of my life.

The next day was another port…St. Thomas, USVI.

At St. Thomas…

Let’s just say it, there’s nothing like the tropics in October. Where my Firefox readout told me that New York had fifties and dropping, I couldn’t help but think, how lucky am I to be in the Eastern Caribbean, and on a jazz cruise, no less. And unlike the prior day, when we were docked in San Juan, I have gone ashore in St. Thomas.

Equatorial heat. Mother of gods, that is blazing. I think I went through half of the sunscreen just walking out by the portside mall, and all considered, I did very little shopping. A beach tote, a couple souvenirs for friends, but mostly, I just wanted to be out in the sun. There was a pier there, by the foot of which was a cannon, so after all my shopping, what I did was just…go there, and take in the view of everything around me. The hilltops, the villas, the random sounds and smells of the tropics…and this unbelievable peace of knowing that I am far, far from it all.

I knew then that I was on vacation, and for a while, I forgot all about the everything else.

I ventured back to portside and just as I was looking for a bite to eat, I got caught in a sunshower. Just this burst of rain in the middle of blazing sunlight, which I watched as I ducked right into this little sushi place.

A delightful lunch later, I checked back into the ship, and found that it was, once again, showtime, and on the menu were Lalah Hathaway, George Duke, and Marion Meadows for the late show.

I knew about Lalah Hathaway’s background, and nonetheless, I approached that show the way I generally approach all vocalists: “Show me what you can do.” Much like Maysa on the first night, Lalah Hathaway made me stop and pay attention. Her voice is honestly, unbelievable. I know she can belt it with the best of them; her voice is low, rich, and a hell of a lot more powerful than most people would think. But that night was hardly a time to belt it diva-style. She went R&B, she went soul, she mellowed out, and that voice is definitely something I appreciate. A lot.

Of course, there was George Duke too.

I love my pianos and keyboards, you guys know that. I knew part of what to expect because he too surfaced in my Pandora program on a fairly regular basis. But what I didn’t expect was him putting on the Movie Announcer voice, pulling a mic close and tell a Star Wars-like story as part of an intro to a song from his Dukey Treats CD. And that was so far out of the left field that I think the theater has an impression of my eyebrow on the ceiling. He is a complete ham. Incredibly multi-talented; he has an excellent voice, and makes for a killer emcee. I wish I could remember, on a week after the journey, exactly what the song was called when he went a bit bossa-nova Brazilian, but that was a quite enjoyable jaunt away from his usual mix of influences.

A quick dinner later, and after the boat became so wobbly that I began rethinking ever packing high heels on a cruise again, I had to venture to the stern of the ship and into the Victoria Lounge.

If there is anything that I know to count on for a good time, it’s a Marion Meadows show.  Though without his usual band backing him, I will hand it to him for knowing how to throw a party. He also did a tour of the lounge as he introduced Suede, and this would be where I have swallowed my earlier assertion that this particular song is far too sappy. Marion put a very well-inflected edge into it on stage, which made the track more palatable than it is on the CD.

I blame the mixer of that song, really. On the record, it sounds like Kenny G guest-starred on it, and you guys know my opinion of Kenny G. But in live…really, another story altogether.

And yes, the Funk Lecture was back out in full force too. If you never saw Marion’s show, then you may likely have no idea what I’m talking about, but if you do have a chance to see him live, I can promise you this: he tells a story that creates a hell of a mental image. Always a laugh and a half, that.

Three excellent artists, a gorgeous port, and more ahead of me… what could be better?

I’ll tell you…next time! :)

K.G.