Jazzed Up for the Super Bowl? That Was the Case in the Early Years!
It is Super Bowl weekend! You guessed it… let’s talk about the Big Game’s connection to jazz.
It is Super Bowl weekend! It has been quite a while since we have been on land for the Big Game. The worst part will be having to prepare our own game-time snacks. The easiest path would be to adopt the Tom Brady diet. Have you read about this? It makes starting every morning with a kale smoothie and a gluten free, rolled oats sweet roll sound appealing.
According to Tom Brady’s diet, you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and consume a ton of water. It also states that you can eat only until you are 75% full. What in the world does that mean? Is that really a metric that works? And, if you do stop eating when you are 75% full, then, very soon, your appetite will shrink and you will be eating 75% of the original 75%. After a while, I am not sure that even looking at food works. I get it. Six Super Bowl rings, tons of money, Gisele. I can make some modifications to my diet for that, but, at some point, everyone needs a cheeseburger.
Back to the Super Bowl! Everyone watches some part of the event. Some watch the game, but most are in it for the commercials and the halftime show. This is our first Pandemic Super Bowl, so it will be interesting to see the tone of the commercials and how “super” the halftime show will be. Socially Distanced Super Bowl Halftime Show! A clear rival to Jumbo Shrimp and other obvious contradictions in terms. It will be fun to watch.
For those of you familiar with the content rules of Our Take, you know that the limit is 3! Meaning, I am allowed to begin the Our Take with no more than 3 paragraphs that do not refer to jazz. I am now back on message and ready to offer my “Jazz at the Super Bowl” observations. Actually, the connection is very interesting and provides an insightful view of the path of Americana over the years.
The first Super Bowl Halftime Show (1967) featured the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band, Grambling State University Marching Band and the Anaheim High School Ana-Hi-Steppers Drill Team and Flag Girls. Really. There were certainly no wardrobe malfunctions in that show. Interestingly, there was only one “professional” performer during that show. Al Hirt. Yes, the famous jazz trumpeter performed “Bugler’s Holiday.” For those keeping score, at the end of Super Bowl I, it was Marching Bands 2, Drill Teams 1 and Jazz Performers 1. We were in the game!
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) dominated the halftimes of the next few games. Marching bands from those HBCU schools are simply amazing. They combine great music, dancing and athleticism and do so at a scale that is unparalleled. A very good friend of mine, who sailed with us for years, produced an HBCU Doubleheader Classic each year in St. Louis. We would go for the bands and stay for the game! Rich Gray was his name. Sadly, he passed a few years ago.
But, jazz continued to be the only “professional” music presented in the early years of the Super Bowl. Super Bowl IV, held in New Orleans, featured Doc Severinsen, Al Hirt, Lionel Hampton and Carol Channing. The theme of Super Bowl VI, also in the Big Easy, was a “Salute to Louis Armstrong” and featured Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing and Al Hirt. Armstrong had passed just a few months before the game. Super Bowl IX, again in New Orleans, featured a Tribute to Duke Ellington.
New Orleans proved to be the touchstone for Jazz at the Super Bowl. Even Super Bowl XII, another New Orleans event, where the theme was “From Paris to the Paris of America,” presented Pete Fountain and Al Hirt as performers. Apparently, the producers of the Super Bowl had very limited travel budgets, opting to send a car to pick up Fountain and Hirt, rather than flying others into New Orleans. The travel costs for Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and the other superstars who eventually became the norm at Super Bowls, apparently, would have overwhelmed the early productions.
The group Up With People, a Mitch Miller clone featuring highly scrubbed young singers and dancers, and the HBCU marching bands dominated the shows for the next 20 years! The turning point in Super Bowl Halftime Show programming seems to be 1991. New Kids on the Block performed that year and were followed in 1992 by Gloria Estefan. That new trend became the norm in 1993, when Michael Jackson was the star. From then on, the Super Bowl Halftime Show featured the hottest stars in Pop, R&B and Country music.
Even the productions for Super Bowls in New Orleans changed. U2, The Blue Brothers, and Beyonce replaced our jazz guys. Yet, for over 20 years, the Super Bowl Halftime Shows had jazz and HBCU marching bands as their beginnings. You can just “feel” the beat and the energy. That music has stirred more than football halftimes in its history and will continue to do so forever.
Did we mention that February is also Black History Month? You want to talk about a history with jazz?! Stay tuned for next week’s edition … our Valentine’s Day tribute to Jazz and Black History Month. Can’t think of more than 10,000 words on that subject.
Oh, yeah, for those who might miss the Big Game, the score will be Kansas City 31, Tampa Bay 24. Take Kansas City, give the points, bet the under (bad weather is predicted) and try to limit the nacho intake, otherwise you may miss the Halftime Show and the entire second half!
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE: WEDNESDAY, FEB. 10 Niki Haris & Ann Hampton Callaway LIVE!
The next episode of Jazz Cruise Conversations LIVE features two of the spectacular singers sailing on The Jazz Cruise ’22 – Niki Haris and Ann Hampton Callaway. Ann and Niki will be sure to talk about their common ability to sing not only jazz but other genres of music. A favorite topic for both vocalists is inspiration – where it comes from and where to take it. Knowing Ann and Niki, that is not all they will be talking about! Now, they are two ladies with plenty to say and no fear in saying it.
Tune in on Wednesday, February 10, at 8 p.m. ET for a very entertaining conversation. Don’t forget, the Jazz Cruise Conversations LIVE series of online jazz chats continues every other Wednesday night with the following stars up next:
Feb. 24: Bria Skonberg with Jennifer Wharton
March 10: Monty Alexander with John Clayton
You can catch all of the Jazz Cruise Conversations Live interviews on our YouTube and Facebook pages or you can listen to them as podcasts on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
New Concert Series From The Nash Featuring Lewis Nash & Joey DeFrancesco
Lewis Nash and Joey DeFrancesco have a lot in common. They are superstars of jazz, prolific performers and two of the most popular performers on The Jazz Cruise. They also both call Phoenix home. So, it is not surprising to see them get together for four February Sundays of great music.
Obviously, we at The Jazz Cruise not only endorse this event, but we put it into the “don’t miss” column. Below is the information you need to take in these shows. All of us at The Jazz Cruise will be “there,” so please join us.
Lewis and Joey will be performing four unique shows from The Nash (yes, named for Lewis!) in Phoenix with the following themes:
The esteemed duo tell us that the last two shows will feature music and stories from The Jazz Cruise sailings of the past. Click here for more information and click here for tickets.
Candy Dulfer’s New Radio Show
Candy Dulfer, a longtime super favorite of The Smooth Jazz Cruise guests, is hosting a new radio show that airs on the Sublime Station in Amsterdam.
While we await 3 sweet weeks at sea with Candy on The Smooth Jazz Cruise in 2022, we will be getting our Candy fix much sooner than that by listening to “Candy’s World” every Sunday from 1 pm to 3 pm ET. Candy tells us that you can expect a mix of funk, soul and jazz — her specialties.
Candy Dulfer on the radio. Okay, not entirely the full picture we have come to enjoy, but it is the best we can do at this time. One question: What is the proper Jimmy Choo selection for a radio show?
Ken Peplowski’s Quartet wants to make music JUST FOR YOU!
“My quartet will record three songs just for you that are yours to keep and you’ll receive a digital version and 10 CDs,” Ken explains. “If you send us a list of about 10 of your favorites, we’ll try to incorporate some of them; otherwise, we’ll just give you a really nice balance of music. These will be recorded at a professional studio and we’ll even give you a personal greeting on the recording.”
The Jazz Cruise fans get a special discount, so reach out to Ken to get your unique recording in the works: email@example.com.