When it comes to dinner cruises, no-one does it better than Smooth Jazz New York. They offer a weekly excursion on one of the most exquisite yachts in New York City, a delectable cuisine to suit every palate and the hottest jazz artists in the music industry today. Last week THZ was honored to sail the Hudson River aboard the Hornblower Infinity serenaded by the smooth sounds of the R&B and jazz great, Will Downing.
The Infinity is a breathtaking vessel, which departs from Pier 40 at Houston Street. It accommodates up to 1000 guests complete with five dance floors, four fully stocked bars, a state-of-the-art sound system and custom blue LED lighting.
Once on board, the immaculately-uniformed crew directed us to the buffet area where we were invited to sample every item on the menu. There were mixed vegetables and salad to accompany the honey glazed ham, salmon grilled to perfection, sautéed chicken breasts and penne pasta smothered in a mouthwatering marinara sauce. While dining, we also indulged in dessert and cocktails as we eagerly awaited the show to begin.
They say laughter is good for the soul. So before Mr. Downing hit the stage, we were treated to an amazing opening act that had the entire audience in stitches. The hilarious, charismatic and (might I say) very attractive comedian, Talent, provided so much comic relief, that some of us couldn’t finish our meals. He touched on every conceivable topic from navigating romantic relationships to surviving last year’s brutal winter. You name it, he made fun of it. And by the end of his performance, we had all laughed so hard, it literally hurt. Talent’s set was the perfect precursor to what came next.
As we continued our voyage luxuriating in the views of the beautiful New York City skyline, the band made its way to the stage and it was time to get this party started. The keyboard player began tickling the ivory, the sound of base beautifully infiltrated our ears, the percussionist set the steady beat and the background voices chimed in with their melodic ad libs. Suddenly, we found ourselves at the height of anticipation as the vessel was now engulfed in a musical prelude. Within seconds, the crowd erupted as the Prince of Sophisticated Soul emerged to take his rightful place behind the mic.
For the next two hours, we were mesmerized by the vocal styling of the musical genius that is Will Downing. His sultry and sensual tone on each selection either made you want to fall in love or reminded you why you did.
Will’s uninterrupted performance included covers of “I Try” by Angela Bofill, “Wishing On a Star” by Rose Royce, “Send For Me” by Atlantic Starr, and “I Go Crazy” by Paul Davis, all of which he delivered beautifully and made his own. He also performed some of his own music including “Sorry I” and “Million Ways”, co-written by R&B singer Joe.
We were also fortunate to hear new material from his most recent CD, Euphoria. But one of THZ’s favorite Will Downing songs is “Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This”, a duet he did years ago with the talented jazz artist Rachelle Ferrell. Without Rachelle on board, we didn’t expect it to be in the set list. Imagine our excitement when he collaborated with his female background singer to deliver a soul-stirring performance of our favorite song as the finale. It was truly amazing!!
We’d like to express our gratitude to Marquee Concerts for providing THZ, yet again, with a wonderful evening. They truly outdid themselves last week. We’ve said it once, we’ve said it twice and we’ll say it again and again. We highly recommend that everyone experience a Smooth Jazz cruise at least once this season. You do not want to miss out on this event. But get your tickets fast. Before you know it, Summer, 2014 will be a distant memory.