While Marcus Miller serves as the Player/Coach of our amazing team for The Smooth Jazz Cruise programs, Boney James and Brian Culbertson are the power hitters that run up the scores. In just that one sentence, we have basketball, baseball and music double entendres. Or, as my high school English teacher would say, a confusing set of mixed metaphors. Whichever way you look at it, Boney and Brian are stars of the cruises.
We have chronicled Boney’s path from reluctant cruiser to special guest to part time cruiser to full cruise participant to co-host. He has done it all with ultimate graciousness and excellence. That level of achievement is no surprise as Boney has been successful in the music business from the start. Turning professional at 19 and cutting his teeth with Morris Day, The Isley Brothers, Teena Marie and others led to his first album and major label deal. From there, Boney has never looked back. The four time Grammy nominee is now a “one-name” icon in the smooth and contemporary jazz world.
Brian’s success came early as well. His first hit album was created in his college apartment. Here, too, that success led to a major record label and the beginning of an amazing career. Brian’s concerts are true shows that feature amazing visual effects, coordinated wardrobes and stunning staging and lighting. Sometimes such add-ons are a diversion tactic meant to cover for a weak musical presentation. At Brian’s high-energy shows, these production elements are gold on top of gold. For his shows on The Smooth Jazz Cruise, guests line up hours in advance to get up close and no one misses a minute. Watching Brian at the keyboards in total control of the stage is a highlight for all.
On the ship but off the Main Stage, Boney and Brian are famously associated as the leaders of our Ping-Pong contest. Both are avid and skilled players and their rivalry at the Ping-Pong table is one of the highlights of every sailing of The Smooth Jazz Cruise. One of these days we will have them play a game on the stage in the Celebrity Theater, followed by a Tenor Sax v. Trombone sound off.
Both wear cool sneakers and usually outfits of black, but there is no confusing their headwear. Boney’s fedora and Brian’s spiked hair are iconic elements in the music world. That Boney and Brian have such large and loyal followings has led us to produce several land-based shows featuring them as well as being supporters of their streaming shows and podcasts. The Smooth Jazz Cruise is ready, willing and able to be associated with Boney and Brian on almost any project that they undertake.
In 2022, we’re fortunate to sail with both Boney and Brian for each of the 3 sailings — and there are very limited staterooms available to be there with them. Until then, we hope you check out the 2 music videos above, both recorded aboard The Smooth Jazz Cruise a year ago.