After a soggy spring and a rainy early summer, New Yorkers were more than ready for a little respite. Cruising on the Hudson River aboard the Spirit of New York on a beautiful sunny summer evening while listening to the Jazz band, Spyro Gyra on The Smooth Cruise proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered.
2009 marked the 11th year of the Spirit Cruises and Smooth Jazz New York Annual Jazz Series, and on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, Edward and I boarded Spirit Cruises' Spirit of New York, for a 2-hour Sunset Cruise, and although bass player Scott Ambush had unfortunately missed his flight and was not able to join his Spyro Gyra bandmates, when Jay Beckenstein on saxophone, Tom Schuman on keyboards, Bonny Bonaparte "Bonny B" on drums, percussion, and vocals, and Julio Fernandez on guitar, took to the stage, the audience was ready for a night of fun.
Spyro Gyra on The Smooth Cruise
As Luxury Experience Magazine readers know, Edward and I are huge fans of the band, Spyro Gyra and have attended many of their concerts over the years and have reviewed their CDs in the Music Scene, (Down the Wire, Spyro Gyra - a night before Christmas, Spyro Gyra - Good to Go-Go), so when we heard that they were playing on The 2009 Smooth Cruise "New York's Favorite Summer Jazz Series" which Bill Zafiros of Smooth Jazz New York describes as a "club on the water" with an intimate setting and an opportunity to hear the band up close and personal, we knew that this was something that we wanted to experience.
The band worked its magic on the audience playing the Spyro Gyra classic Shaker Song written by Jay Beckenstein, and when they segued into Morning Dance, the Jay Beckenstein song that launched the band to stardom back in 1979, and was when the Jazz world fell in love with Spyro Gyra, romance burst forth like the fourth of July fireworks with couples crowding the dance floor to capture the mood.
Moving on to play the bluesy Schu's Blues, written by Tom Schuman, Jay joked that Tom had a right to sing the blues since Scott was not there and Tom had to play both keyboards and bass. No matter, the audience had caught the Spyro Gyra spirit and clapped along and enjoyed the ride.
Slowing it down a bit, the band segued into the slow and sultry Latin rhythm De La Luz written by Julio Fernandez, with Julio singing and playing his guitar with such intense passion that he kept the audience on the dance floor moving to beat.
Bonny B ripped through a drum solo before segueing into a Michael Jackson song, Rock With You, as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson, that had the audience singing along with him, and kept the flow going and picked up the pace with the funky song, Make it Mine, which Bonny B wrote and is on the new Spyro Gyra CD, Down the Wire, on the Heads Up International label a division of Concord Music Group that drew even more dancers to the tiny dance floor to dance the electric slide.
After almost continuous rain since early spring, it was a perfect night to be cruising on the Hudson River with the brilliant sunset dramatically silhouetting the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty, enjoying the buffet dinner, and the music of Spyro Gyra; the only missing ingredient was Scott Ambush, who did arrive just in time for the second performance on the Moonlight Cruise.
New York Skyline
The 2009 Smooth Cruises depart every Wednesday from July until October 9, 2009. There are two cruises nightly, a Sunset Cruise that departs promptly at 6:30 pm, and a Moonlight Cruise that departs promptly at 9:30 pm.
Statue of Liberty viewed from Spirit of New York
Visit the websites: www.SmoothJazzNewYork.com and www.MarqueeConcerts.com for The 2009 Smooth Cruise schedule.
The Spirit Cruise Box Office
Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers
23rd Street and the West Side Highway
New York, New York, United States
© August 2009. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.