Chris Botti - National Theatre, Melbourne Australia Review

by Dione Joseph, Australia Stage

On Sunday night there was only one place to be for all jazz fans. And that was at the National theatre with none other than the legendary Chris Botti!

A superb evening was had by all and not only because Botti can wield his trumpet with all the dignity and class of a king but also because he was magnificently assisted by a transformational five piece band. These outstanding musicians included Gugenheimer fellowship recipient and twice Grammy award winning pianist Billy Childs, "ridiculously bad ass drummer" Billy Kilson, "bad boy of jazz" Mark Whitfield, bassist Michael Valerio and keyboardist Andy Ezrin.

If Botti was the star of the night he was closely followed by a shower of meteorites. No sooner had he transfixed the audience with the magic of his instrument did he introduce world famous violinist Caroline Campbell who joined Botti in an exquisite duet of Emmanuel. And the fun didn't stop there.

Lisa Fischer, female vocalist for the past 15 years with Rolling Stones joined Botti on stage for some classic renditions of Good Morning Heartache, an absolutely amazing Italia, and Nat King Cole favorite: The Very Thought of You.

Botti also shared all time favorite Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen with lead guitarist Mark Whitfield creating a powerful hush over the sell out crowd gathered to witness "one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written."

Easily building a rapport with the audience Botti shared jokes, history and the driving force behind his choice to become a trumpeter, Miles Davis, who inspired him to continue the trend of slowing jazz down. As a tribute to the album Kind of Blue, Botti and his band dedicated their own version of the Flamenco sketch to the memory of a man who had the vision and enterprise to change jazz music.

Botti also won the audience over by making friends - including a very lucky 13 year old  (also a trumpet player!) who walked away brimming with smiles after Botti congratulated him and his parents for not succumbing to the demands of instant gratification that many of us are caught up in today.

For nearly two hours Chris Botti, his band and his extraordinary guests transported Melbourne on a journey towards rediscovering the beauty of jazz and the magic of making melodies with your soul. A night that earned the artists a standing ovation from Melbourne's jazz fans and gave us an intimate jazz experience like no other.

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