- 9 July 2012
BY ALAN ADAMS
SPECIAL TO THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Chris Botti doesn't want to be defined as a jazz musician, even though, right now, he is the top-selling jazz instrumentalist in the world. Botti would prefer to be recognized merely as a trumpet player. Merely? That's like saying Rembrandt merely painted pretty pictures.
He has it all: a big, rich warm sound, dazzling technique (that he doesn't overuse) and seemingly effortless range. His two-plus hour set Friday in Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts began with a tune called "Venice," from his album "Italia." Following the original statement and development, Botti traded eight-measure ad lib phrases with the members of his five-piece band, leaving no doubt that he is plenty willing to share the spotlight with them - as he did frequently throughout the evening. Next came the Victor Young tune "When I Fall In Love," with a brilliant piano improvisation by the great Billy Childs, who numbers among his credits four Grammys and the 2009 Guggenheim Award in composition.
An unusual addition to a jazz concert, classical violinist Caroline Campbell was brought on to join Botti in his version of the "Chopin Prelude in C Minor," a piece commissioned by the government of Poland where the group tours annually. The rich sound of her (amplified) violin was an ideal complement to Botti's own instrument, and the lush lyrical phrases the two produced were perfectly matched.
The late Miles Davis was a strong influence on Botti, and there is a strong trace of Davis's style in his playing. However, one can pick up elements of Dizzy Gillespie and even Chet Baker in more reflective moments. Campbell joined Botti on "Flamenco Sketches," from what is probably Davis' best-known album, "Kinda Blue." A counterpart album, "Sketches of Spain," provided another Davis classic, "Concierto de Aranjuez." Tempo and volume dropped markedly for a hauntingly beautiful version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," done with nearly understated simplicity by Botti's muted trumpet with guitar.
As a change of pace, singer Lisa Fischer took the stage for a knockout set that began with Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "The Look of Love." Soon, both Fischer and Botti were in the front rows of the audience for Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You," made a hit by Billie Holiday and more recently covered by Etta James. Fischer made her mark through years of appearances on tour with the Rolling Stones; however, Friday's exposure, albeit brief, gave her latitude to display a full catalog of vocal skills, including a range rivaling that of Botti's trumpet.
While tone production on a brass instrument is largely the product of the player, a share of the rich consistent trumpet sound he is known for must be attributed, in part, to Botti's horn itself, a 1939 Committee model Martin, whose large bore softens and shades the bright piercing quality sought by orchestral players.
Botti's stage persona appears quiet and withdrawn, that is, until he begins to play. He looks much younger than his age - he'll turn 50 later this year - but he exudes confidence and charm whenever he takes the microphone.
Botti has diverse experience in several musical genres, including studio work, classical, pop, rock and fusion. One of his mentors, and a musical collaborator, is the multitalented David Foster. No doubt it is largely due to Foster's influence that Botti rejects being pigeonholed. With 14 albums to his credit, and now near what is probably the peak of his creative arc, Chris Botti seem destined to occupy a place of prominence in whatever fields of musical endeavor he chooses to pursue.
Read at lvrj.com
- 2 July 2012
American jazz trumpeter and composer Chris Botti has developed a niche as an award-winning artist who blends jazz with different genres, including pop and classical music.
His recent album Impressions features an enviable list of guest artists, including Herbie Hancock, Andrea Bocelli and Mark Knopfler.
"If you go back to Kind of Blue [by] Miles Davis," Botti says, "around 20 per cent of that whole record is Miles' trumpet sound. He featured John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans to play as a kind of foil to him."
Botti takes inspiration from that sort of blending of artistic contributions, but chose to focus on featured guest voices for Impressions, released this spring.
"When I want to back away from the framework of what’s going on musically, then...the listener is hearing Herbie Hancock or Vince Gill or David Foster or Andrea Bocelli or Mark Knopfler," he told CBC's Zulekha Nathoo.
The question he asks himself, when contemplating new musical collaborators, is "Who do you get to step into the spotlight — when I'm not there — that is unique and musically satisfying?"
Over the years, Botti has shared the spotlight with an eclectic range of artists: from Sting and Paul Simon to Steven Tyler and Yo-Yo Ma to Frank Sinatra and Joni Mitchell.
Most jazz musicians want to "do their thing" and stay away from "pop music melding," he admitted.
"For me, I like it. I think it's unusual. I'm proud of the guests we've had...It all hangs together as a piece of music."
After a gig in Toronto on Thursday night, Botti is set to play Ottawa on Friday as well as a concert in Montreal on July 1. Dates throughout the U.S. follow this summer, but he returns to Canada with a stop in Calgary in November.
- 26 June 2012
BY AMY SMART, TIMESCOLONIST.COM / PHOTO BY BRUCE STOTESBURY
Who: Chris Botti
Where: Royal Theatre
Rating: Four stars (out of five)
Oh, Chris Botti — are you a thief? Because some hearts were certainly stolen at the Royal Theatre on Monday night.
It should come as no surprise that jazz trumpeter behind albums like A Thousand Kisses Deep (2003), When I Fall in Love (2004) and To Love Again: Duets (2005) was a smooth operator.
This man could write the rulebook on how to charm an audience. They snapped their fingers when he said snap. They laughed at his semi-self-deprecating stories — like the one when music mogul David Foster suggested he work with Andrea Bocelli (shows clout), but then he responded, "Hey David, What do you do? Call 1-800-Bocelli?" (shows he's like everybody else). They may have even wiped a tear away when, for the first song after the encore, he pulled a 14-year-old drummer from the audience to join the band on stage for a heart-stopping rendition of Nessun Dorma.
Read more at timescolonist.com
- 25 June 2012
KRIPOTKIN By Alfred A. Yuson (The Philippine Star)
Everyone in the full house that enjoyed the Chris Botti: Live in Manila! concert last Tuesday at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Performing Arts Theater came away sated with excellent music — in all of its possible permutations at that.
At exactly 9:37 p.m. the top-selling American instrumental artist and the world’s No. 1 trumpeter started on his third number, for which alone I was there — for the sweet pain of music.
It was one of his fave pieces, Emmanuelle, composed by Michel Colombier, with its achingly haunting melody that comes vertiginously close to emo edge, but draws back in time to escape sappy “senti.”
Ha ha. Not exactly best enjoyed alone, but I’ll take it anytime, especially from among what must be a hundred compositions (and movies and porn flicks) entitled Emmanuelle.
Last November, when Chris Botti first performed live in Manila as a featured artist for Radio High’s 105.9’s official launch, ladies swooned all over Greenbelt 5’s Fashion Walk under a tent when the Grammy winner played the same number, in a duet with violinist Aurica Duca.
Read more at philstar.com
- 22 June 2012
SOUNDS FAMILIAR By Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star)
I listen to Impressions by Chris Botti and I think, beautiful. That is such an overused word but there is nothing I can think of that would best describe the album. It is an incredible mixture of sounds. Heavenly. Moving. Inspiring. Romantic. It makes me want to tell everybody that this guy, whom I first encountered as a trumpet player who made it to People Magazine’s list of beautiful people has now become a total music artist.
Impressions makes me think of Herbie Hancock, Sting, Paul McCartney and Quincy Jones. They are all pop artists who also mastered the intricacies of the art of recorded music. While others are contented doing the hits that their public expects from them, they surmounted the limitations of their assigned genres. Think of Jones getting Michael Jackson into Thriller or of Hancock with his Imagine album. What about Sting and his live recordings or of McCartney composing a symphony?
Botti is not yet there. Almost. But he got a lot of great help for his Impressions. Producer is Bobby Columby, drummer of the iconic band Blood, Sweat & Tears. He is fearless and he guided Botti through the paces that will take him from his usual pop and jazz to the edge of world music. Botti certainly proved himself more than just an instrumentalist in this CD. I do not know if it was Botti or Columby’s idea to put this stuff together but they made the music work — to take on Brazilian jazz, Broadway, Michael Jackson soul and Argentine tango. And surprise, these all go well together. Botti’s trumpet links them all and he excels in every cut.
Read more at philstar.com
- 21 June 2012
BY AYA YUSON: GMA NEWS
You know you're in for a night of top-flight music when from the opening notes, the very air around you seems to change, becoming charged with divine energy of The Spheres.
That's what it was like at the Chris Botti concert at Resorts World Manila's Newport Performing Arts Theater last June 19.
From the opening bars of front act Richard Merck's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" to the closing strains of Chris Botti's "Over The Rainbow," the air around us was transformed by jazz alchemy into much needed soul food.
The air tasted palpably sweeter. And the hairs on the back of our neck were standing from beginning to end.
Read more at gmanetwork.com
- 4 June 2012
By Don Heckman
Los Angeles, 6/3/12. Chris Botti made his annual appearance at the Greek Theatre last night. And it began in appropriately lyrical fashion, with a nearly full moon beaming through a misty sky.
For the past few years, Botti performances have included rich assemblages of talented artists, playing music reaching across a wide spectrum of genres. So, too, with this appearance, which began with a quick-triggered jazz set from the basic Botti ensemble – featuring the fast-fingers and soaring imagination of pianist Geoffrey Keezer. Botti’s own soloing, especially in this segment, sometimes displayed a somewhat harder bop inflection than has usually been present in his playing, adding yet another appealing hue to his already colorful musical palette.
Next up, he was joined by violinist Caroline Campbell in the first of several appearances by this gifted artist. Their duets on “Emmanuel” and a Chopin Prelude were exquisite displays of intimate musical story telling.
Yet another musical direction followed. Botti often speaks of the impact Miles Davis had upon him as a 12 year old. And he affirmed that impact in loving fashion in an emotionally layered rendering of Davis’ “Flamenco Sketches.”
Botti then focused the spotlight on the remarkable Uruguayan guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Here, and elsewhere throughout the two hour program, Amuedo moved easily from subtle Latin rhythms to rock star electric guitar, comping with brisk swing on the straight ahead jazz passages, and doing it all with stage presence revealing the qualities of a potential star in the making.
Grammy-winning singer Lisa Fischer is already a star in her own right. And her mesmerizing performance, especially in an unlikely blending of “I Love You Porgy” and “The Look of Love,” produced some of the most memorable moments of the entire evening. As if that wasn’t enough, she and Botti then stepped down to stroll through the audience in an up close and personal rendering of “The Very Thought of You.”
And there was more – much more: A spotlight moment for singer/actor Michael Arden. A violin solo by Campbell in which she assembled a collection of the instrument’s most difficult techniques and performed them in a brilliantly articulate display of musical magic. And a drum solo by Billy Kilson that somehow managed to combine wit and humor with explosive high energy.
Botti held all these elements together with graceful ease and consummate professionalism. Always at the center of the music, opening the way for his companions to express themselves, he was also at the head of the parade. A master musician in his own right, Botti has discovered – via his many musical journeys of the past decade – how to lead engaging performances, rich with collective creativity.
- 31 May 2012
By JIM DAIL For The Californian
For someone who spends 300 days a year on the road, is one of the most popular jazz artists in the field, and puts on one of the most well-received live performance shows in music, it's almost hard to believe that Chris Botti still does not feel he has it down.
"It really is an ongoing process," said Botti, who will perform June 3 at Thornton Winery as part of the 2012 Champagne Jazz Concert Series. "It's all about presenting a good show to an audience."
Part of his drive to perfect his shows has to do with his time watching others on the stage.
"I saw how Sting crafted his show when I was performing with him," he said. "And I saw Sinatra and remember seeing the way he worked chat into the act and connected with the audience. Don Rickles does the same thing, and I'm a huge fan of his. He is incredible the way he interacts with an audience."
As he reflects on his career to this point, Botti believes the show is the key.
- 30 May 2012Chris Botti matches his soulful playing with a wide range of collaborating vocalists
By Marcia Manna, The San Diego Union-Tribune
When Chris Botti makes a total stranger cry, he figures he has done his job.
“My favorite compliment is when someone comes up to me at a show and says, ‘I didn’t know who you were and here I am bawling, and that never happened before,’” says Botti, who brings his sophisticated trumpeter’s tone to Humphrey’s Concerts by the Bay on Friday and Temecula’s Thornton Winery on Sunday.
The contemporary jazz instrumentalist is touring to support “Impressions,” a CD that showcases a diverse group of artists, including Herbie Hancock, Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler.
Read more at utsandiego.com