Archive for August 6, 2011

New York’s premier summer jazz series returns!

Join us in celebrating the Smooth Cruises’ 14th year aboard The Spirit of New York, located at Pier 61, Chelsea Piers (23rd St & West Side Hwy). Experience this one-of-a-kind LIVE JAZZ concert series as you cruise down the Hudson River taking in fantastic views of the Statue of Liberty and the breathtaking Manhattan skyline.

This summer will end August 31st with your choice of 2 Shows at 6:30pm & 9:30pm.

The Smooth Cruises sell out quickly, so get your tickets today!


Keyboardist James Lloyd, drummer Curtis Harmon, and former bassist Cedric Napoleon, founded Pieces of a Dream in Philadelphia in 1975 when the principal members were all teenagers. Lloyd, Harmon and Napoleon, were (and still are) managed by the Harmon’s father and uncle, Danny and Bill Harmon. Originally somewhat jazz-oriented, the group has mostly emphasized R&B, although a few jazz numbers are typically included in their performances.

Their name is based on Pieces of Dreams, a cover tune by Stanley Turrentine that the group performed.
They first started playing throughout the Tri-State area, and were soon featured on Temple University’s pioneering jazz radio station, WRTI-FM. Long before the “Young Lions” era of Wynton Marsalis, Lloyd and Harmon were swinging so hard as teenagers that the great Count Basie once proclaimed them “a tough act to follow.”

But it was another jazz legend, the late Grover Washington Jr., the sax man who made Philly his home, who helped Pieces of a Dream become the internationally known stars they are today. After quickly becoming popular around Philadelphia, the trio landed a spot as the house band for a local television show, City Lights. Their experience broadened as they played backup on the broadcasts to a wide variety of artists, and that’s where Washington first heard them. One day while the teenagers were playing at the Bijou (where Grover had recorded his Live at the Bijou album), he sat in with them to play “Mr. Magic.”

Soon Washington announced that he was starting a production company and that Pieces of a Dream would be his first act. Lloyd was only a senior in high school when his first record came out!

From 1981 to 1984, Pieces of a Dream built their reputation with three albums on Elektra that would come to define the musical essence of the smooth jazz radio explosion: Pieces of a Dream, We Are One and Imagine This. Those seminal records yielded some of their earliest hits, including “Warm Weather,” “Mount Airy Groove” and “Fo Fi Fo.”

Soon after completing Joyride, their last effort for Elektra, they moved to EMI/Blue Note and went on to record seven more albums. (During this period, the group amicably parted ways with long time friend Cedric Napoleon.)

In 2001, Pieces of a Dream signed with Heads Up International and celebrated their 25th anniversary with what was undoubtedly their best album in years, Acquainted with the Night. The group’s silver anniversary release featured guitarist Ronny Jordan, vocalist Maysa Leak, and saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kenny Blake. Highlights included compositions from Albright and Michael Bearden, along with remakes of “Mahogany” and “Upside Down.” Acquainted with the Night generated two top-five singles on R&R’s NAC chart. The follow up album Love’s Silhouette also scored top radio chart positioning and Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart top 10 status. Their No Assembly Required was released in 2004 on Cleveland’s Heads Up label, followed by 2006’s Pillow Talk, also on Heads Up. Their most recent release, Soul Intent hit shelves in 2009.

Join Pieces of a Dream on Wednesday, August 31st for a memorable close to another fantastic Smooth Cruise Season!

Spirit Cruise Ship, Pier 63, Chelsea Piers, West Side Hwy, New York, NY 10011