At Sea for Rorotonga

I’m happy to say last night’s dinner was excellent; scallops, pumpkin soup, and succulent duck. On Regent a red and a white wine are selected each night by the Chief Sommelier. The wine is complementary, but if you want to spend a few bucks, there is an excellent wine list available.

Prior to dinner I went to the Christian Tamburr jazz concert. As I mentioned it was a salute to Lionel Hampton, and tunes were straight out of The American Songbook. They swung!!! No flash photos were allowed, but I got a couple that aren’t too bad.

Christian is incredible on the vibes and is the best I’ve heard and that includes all the greats, Norvo, Terry Gibbs, and Hampton himself.

The drummer fascinated me. Back in the day I played and was fortunate to have gigs with Bill Evans, Slim Gaillard, (I can’t believe I put those two names together) and a few others. Drumming technique has changed since then and continually during a piece there is a lot going on. Some drummers I’ve heard play as if they are the only one in the room; kind of a drum solo with no contact with what the other players are doing. Brian Sullivan, however, is the tastiest drummer I’ve come across.

There’s still a lot going on, but he listens to the soloists and increasingly drives the rhythm of the whole. Again and again I found my mouth open, completely dazzled at his technique, and I don’t “dazzle” easily. Tonight they play in a more intimate setting at 10:30. This time not on a stage and there is a table for two about four feet from the drums. That’s the one I’ll be shooting for.

The predicted thunderstorms and heavier seas didn’t happen. Bummer, I was hoping for a few flashes and some big booms. As I write this it is sunny and about 72 degrees. The waves are getting larger and anyone in the pool was, I’m sure, pitched out.

Lunch as usual was on the aft deck, but we stopped at the grill on the way and picked up chicken pot pie. Funny to be on a luxury ship, and get excited about chicken pot pie; it was very good, actually my favorite lunch so far.

Christian Tamburr and Brian had the table next to us, and I went over to praise their work. After chatting for a bit, I told them that I had actually played with Lionel Hampton. They were quite impressed. The impact diminished when I further explained that it was on my TV show and I played vibes with him. It was the C Jam Blues which required me to hit five notes; four of them the same.

La Veranda has great sandwiches, but doesn’t offer much variety in the more standard set of choices. Compared to other cruise ships, while the seating is more than ample, the buffet serving area is a bit cramped.

After lunch we went to the library, Michael for books me to look at USA Today. The ship offers full editions of daily newspapers like the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, and others from a range of countries. They are delivered to your suite in the morning for a weekly fee of $40 or $6.50 a piece. So I caught up with McNews, and Michael grabbed a seven pound book about Boris Yeltsin.

The omnipresent art auction is soon to be held. The Park West Galleries have their wares on what seems to be every wall. Free champagne will be poured. And although I know some of the artists are quite well known,

it would take several bubbly buckets before my hand would go up with a bid.

Tonight it’s Signatures for dinner and then I eat my heart out watching Brian and saying, “But I was a contender.”

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