Concert Review: Live at The Greek Theatre

By Amy Balsam - Examiner.com, Los Angeles

On Saturday, July 10, 2010, one year and a day after his sold out show at The Greek Theatre in 2009, Chris Botti, the  #1 selling American jazz instrumental artist and one of the hardest working men in show business, returned for another incredible evening of music.  Joined onstage by some of the best musicians in the business, Chris and his band performed for his fans under the L.A. sky, giving a performance that led to multiple standing ovations throughout the night.

Chris started the evening out with the beautiful "Ava Maria" and then switched gears to "When I Fall In Love", (a song originally recorded by Doris Day and then covered by a wide range of artists from Nat King Cole, Kenny Rogers, Celine Dion and Boyz II Men featuring Michael Buble) on which award winning pianist Billy Childs dazzled with his improvisational skills.  Later in the show, Chris told the tale of performing at a wedding in Tuscany at which he was joined onstage by his good friend Sting, to much delight by the bride and groom to have their two favorite artists share in their special day.  When Chris and the band were leaving the wedding, violinist Lucia Micarelli fell and a glass went through her hand, threatening to put an end to her incredible musical career.  The tale has a happy ending, as Chris asked the doctor who operated on Lucia's hand and who created a very successful rehab program for her, to stand in the audience where he was greeted with a standing ovation and cheers from the fans.  Lucia then joined Chris onstage to duet on "Emmanuel" and each note she played was beautifully haunting.  Chris and Lucia were reunited onstage later in the show for another enchanting duet on the love theme from the film Cinema Paradiso, which Chris shared is his favorite movie.

The incomparable songstress and Grammy winner Lisa Fischer joined Chris onstage to duet on "Good Morning Heartache", which also showcased drummer Billy Kilson's immense talent.  Billy led an impromptu jam session with the crowd chanting George Clinton's "We Got The Funk" and he definitely brought the funk on this number.  You could tell how much fun Billy was having with this song as his larger than life personality was shining bright with each hit of his drumsticks.  Lisa and Chris performed a very sexy rendition of "The Look of Love" which showcased Lisa's smooth vocals and soulful style.  Then Lisa absolutely amazed the audience with her singing of Andrea Bocelli's part on the operatic hit "Italia" co-written by Chris and David Foster.

In between songs, Chris was as warm and engaging as ever, talking with the audience as if he was reunited with old friends, which is yet another reason to appreciate one of the most likable talents in the music industry.  Chris' shows have a very welcoming and intimate feel to them.  You can tell he leaves his heart on the stage every night and he truly loves what he does.  He is so gracious in publicly praising the musical geniuses he shares the stage with, and throughout his concert steps to the side to give each member of the band their moment in the spotlight.  He is quick to acknowledge the talents of guitarist Mark Whitfield, keyboardist Geoff Keezer, bassist Carlos Henriquez, drummer Billy Kilson and pianist Billy Childs.  You can tell they all love playing together and Chris Botti and his band are a real musical family.

It is evident from attending one of his shows, that Chris Botti is a real class act!  He closed the show by inviting a 13 year old aspiring trumpet player and his family to come join him in the front row where he encouraged him to follow his dream of being a professional musician and impressed upon him the importance of practicing his craft.  He said the teenage trumpet player is the future of music and Chris treated this young musician like he was a rockstar at the Greek Theatre that night.

Chris ended the show up close and personal strolling through the audience with a stripped down version of "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road") accompanied only by Billy Child's on piano.  It was the perfect end to a perfect show.

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