ABOARD THE SKY PRINCESS -- After a first look at the new
Take 5 jazz area on the Sky Princess, I was prepared to be disappointed.
Touted as one of the new features that distinguishes the
fourth in Princess Cruises' Royal class from its predecessors, Take 5 in the
daylight looked like little more than a corridor space with a bar, a drum set,
a piano and lounge seating for 100.
The chandeliers looked like the type of fixture one might
find in a convention center, not in any jazz club I'd been to.
Returning later in the evening proved that Take 5 can be a
successful jazz venue despite its limitations. The acoustics were better than I
had expected, and with dimmer light and signature Take 5 illuminations projected
on the floor, the area came together as a room for listening.
The jazz trio of guitar, bass and drums I heard performing
"A Night in Harlem," provided very tasty instrumental versions of Duke
Ellington classics such as "Take the A Train" and "Do Nothing Till You Hear
From Me." In between songs, the guitarist in the group told stories about
Ellington, his musical co-composer Billy Strayhorn, the legendary Cotton Club
in Harlem where jazz musicians performed, and other lore that provided
background on Ellington's life.
"A Night in Harlem" is just one of a half-dozen shows
programmed for Take 5. Others include a show on Latin jazz and one featuring
women in jazz.
Located next to the casino on Deck 6 in the space where Club
6 is on other Royal-class ships, Take 5 has an attractive wood-inlay floor and
enough deep-blue lighting at night to provide the requisite clubby atmosphere.
There is a bar adjacent to the performance space that serves
themed cocktails such as the Ella Fitzgerald (Gray Goose vodka, St. Germain
liqueur, raspberry liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup, $10) and the Jazz
Riff (Maker's Mark bourbon, honey syrup, lemon juice and prosecco, $10).
I ended up enjoying Take 5 more than I initially thought I
would, although during my three-day pre-inaugural cruise I only had time for
one show. The quality of the musicians
will make or break this concept, and I thought Princess did an outstanding job
of finding a trio up to the job.