"Mance" features Junior Mance with bassist Keter Betts and drummer Jackie Williams with walk-on (how does that work?) appearances of Arturo Sandoval, Lou Donaldson and Etta Jones. Jobim's "How Insensitive" is a beautiful piano piece highlighted by an occasional funky and assertive bass. Donaldson and Sandoval soon join Mance's trio on two Charlie Parker standards. One of them, "Confirmation," is a rich and joyful jam with a very appreciative (and vocal) audience. Sandoval nearly blows out one of the ship's smokestacks. Mance takes "Willow Weep for Me" down a notch and plays it as a gorgeous and elegant rolling blues. Etta James adds a wailing sauciness on her blues tune, "I Got a New Daddy."
In a similar vein, "Live on the QE2" features a lineup consisting of Donaldson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Randy Johnston and Danny Burger. Donaldson's solo on Parker's "Marmaduke" is glorious in handling the knotty twists and turns of the composition. As he puts it, it is "not recommended for fusion or confusion musicians." Dr. Smith is featured on "Midnight Creeper." He gives a very funky rendition whose organ mimics a big band sound. Payton triumphs on his nuanced and delicate take on Gershwin's "I Can't Get Started" which includes subtle quotation from "Girl from Ipanema."
So how does the song like "Harlem Nocturne" work while floating on ship that has the dimensions of a suburban mall wearing flip-flops and shorts and a belly full? I seriously don't know, but it's a concept I'm willing to explore. But if you can only settle for the music without the ocean, it's worth a trip.