Review of the KPLU Jazz Cruise with The Thomas Marriott Quartet

Getting the bad news out of the way right off the bat, the weather was less than spectacular.

OK, now that we have that out of the way…

I’m not sure why, but I always wonder how musicians are going to handle settings that have the possibility of removing them from their comfort zone. Being on a boat, where people are talking, moving around, the waves causing the occasional rocking…will that throw the band off of their game? Will removing musicians from a club into an entirely different setting change the whole dynamic of the show?

Not in this case. The first of three KPLU Sunday Jazz Brunch Cruises featured Thomas Marriott and his quartet, and again, aside from overcast skies and the occasional rain, it was a success.

I know the quartet to be talented, but what I found more impressive was the ability the band had to continually own the attention of the audience in a setting like this. Generally speaking it can’t be all that easy. Any band has an easy possibility of simply becoming background music for an audience that could become far more interested in the wonderful brunch or the scenery on all sides of the boat. And there is a social element too, where a musician could become frustrated that conversation is constantly happening while they play.

But in this case, Marriott and his group never presented a song that allowed the audience to forget that they were the highlight of this three hour cruise around beautiful Elliott Bay. As each song passed, the band never lost the attention of the listeners, and they never became background music.

And why would they? The Thomas Marriott Quartet presented creative arrangements performed by a band made up of some of Seattle’s finest musicians. Marriott in particular seems to be getting better all the time. Switching between trumpet and flugelhorn, Thomas boasts a warm tone blended with excellent improvisation that never seemed to repeat itself.

As the emcee of the cruise (not to mention an employee of the organization presenting it), the clouds and rain immediately set in fear that people would have a bad time. It was more than wonderful to watch The Thomas Marriott Quartet completely draw all of the attention to their wonderful performance and allow the audience to forget about any dark skies.

Below are some photos from the cruise. If you missed it, be sure to catch the next Jazz Brunch Cruise with Pearl Django on July 26th. Details at www.kplu.org.

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