- 25 August 2010
by John Shand
Blowing the trumpet on a scintillating act
The Basement, August 23 FORGET the pretty-boy image, the Sting-derived celebrity and the lapses of taste. Chris Botti is a brilliant trumpeter accompanied by one of the great bands to visit Sydney in recent years.
He is the biggest-selling jazz instrumentalist, partly because he is also the ultimate cross-over artist, embracing funk, classical, rock and cocktail music.
Performing live the truth will out, especially in a crucible like the Basement. After opening with Ave Maria - showing off his tonal purity and breath control - Botti eased into When I Fall In Love. This was not exactly reassuring, as Andy Ezrin's synthesiser washes seemed designed to allay any threat of real jazz.
But suddenly the ballad erupted into lava-hot funk, then became even more explosively free, with thrilling interaction between Botti and the drummer Billy Kilson.
This was highest-calibre jazz, which Billy Childs sustained with one of the most gripping and multi-faceted piano solos I have heard in years.
Just when it seemed we were safe, the willow-limbed violinist Caroline Campbell joined Botti in tossing us a light classical lolly for no discernible reason.
However, he redeemed himself with an unforgettable Flamenco Sketches. The plaintiveness of Miles Davis's original was soon forged into platinum trumpet blasts over a scorching band (completed by the guitarist Mark Whitfield and the bassist Tim Lefebvre): wondrous jazz to restore faith and convert sceptics.
The wonder lingered when Botti gave a beautiful reading of Cohen's Hallelujah against the guitar, although creeping synth washes undermined the intimacy.
The singer Lisa Fischer, of Rolling Stones fame, only strengthened the show. On a rabidly funky The Look of Love, she slid between a sumptuous contralto and a dazzling top end, while Whitfield gave a master-class in rhythm guitar.
As she enthralled us for four songs, the band became ever more dangerous.
If further overblown silliness occasionally punctuated the magic, Botti was as charming between songs as he was scintillating during them. Do not miss this band.
- 24 August 2010
The National Theatre, St Kilda,
Reviewer: Siimon Plant
Back arched and blowing hard, Chris Botti creates sounds of almost Alpine purity. But this American jazz trumpeter can swing low as well, coaxing achingly beautiful blue notes from his gleaming instrument.
No wonder Botti earned standing ovations for his single Melbourne show.
Right from the start, Botti's band (pianist Billy Childs, drummer Billy Kilson, guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassman Tim Lefebvre, Andrew Ezrin on keyboards) demonstrated awesome power and precision. Childs was a demon on the grand piano. Kilson's percussive drive was simply astouonding.
Two guest artists - violinist Caroline Campbell and singer Lisa Fischer - combined magnificently on Italia...the night's big closer. But Botti had the last word. Wading into the audience, he reeled off an unplugged version of Frank Sinatra's One For My Baby and had everyone baying for more.
- 24 August 2010
Christiane Amanpour, CNN veteran and brand-new anchor of ABC's This Week, reports on the contents of her purse. Marie Claire, September 2010
- 23 August 2010
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.
- 8 August 2010
Lisa Fischer, who typically shares the stage with the Rolling Stones, joins Chris Botti to sing - and scat - as Botti plays at the debut of Salon de Louis Vuitton, held in the boutique's Union Square Maison -- San Francisco Magazine, August 2010
- 4 August 2010
By Nancy Dunham
Special to The Examiner
August 4, 2010
Let's face it -- Washington just can't get enough of Chris Botti.
The much-acclaimed trumpeter, who has received accolades from everyone from Frank Sinatra to Sting, often plays to packed houses in the District. Now he's close to selling out another local show.
"It's kind of never-ending touring," Botti said. "We toured 11 months last year. I am almost always on a tour bus."
And to hear Botti tell it, he couldn't be happier with that schedule. Botti was born in Portland, Ore., where his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher, exposed him to music at an early age. At age 11, he decided to pursue a career that would involve creating music reminiscent of the acclaimed Miles Davis.
"The music that really inspired me ... was more like Miles Davis playing ballads with the second quintet," Botti said. "You know, that spacey thing, when they broke down all the chords in the song? That band playing 'Stella by Starlight' is something very different from, say, Bud Powell playing the same tune."
Fast-forward to today, when Botti himself is acclaimed as a leading jazz musician -- and more. Consider this review from the Worcester, Mass., Telegram and Gazette:
"Poor Chris Botti. The talented trumpeter with the tousled blond hair made People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list in 2004; and ever since then, some jazz aficionados have accused him of being a musical lightweight. Wrong!" wrote critic Peter Landsdowne. "Botti sent his detractors packing last night ... [with] a solid two-hour-long concert that showed that he knows how to handle the horn."
So just how does the Grammy Award-winning Botti compose -- and, of course, play -- such compelling music? Basically, it's a combination of his early training and the Miles Davis sound to which he gravitated. His unrelenting goal to be the best -- perhaps best evidenced by the journal he kept of his daily practice for almost three straight years (he fell short by a few days) -- has also helped lead him to his critically and commercially successful sound.
"I'm lucky that my fans are so diverse," Botti said. "[On a recent night] there was a couple celebrating their 61st anniversary. There were also a ton of young musicians there. It is really cool to see that and see [trumpet music] accepted on such a big level."
- 29 July 2010
By L. PIERCE CARSON, Napa Valley Register
Spending 300 days on the road each year doesnâ€™t leave a lot of time for much else.
Jazz trumpeter Chris Botti (pronounced â€˜bohtiâ€™) wouldnâ€™t have it any other way. He loves performing for music lovers the world over.
Botti and a band of inspired musicians will be touring both South Africa and Australia for the first time this year.
â€œYouâ€™d be surprised how many (successful) musicians arenâ€™t known outside this country,â€ the lanky, blond, blue-eyed 47-year-old musician said while warming up for his third appearance at the Robert Mondavi Winery Saturday night.
Botti and band will be on tour through early spring next year and then, and only then, will the popular jazz artist take time from the road to work on a new recording. At this point, heâ€™s just not sure what tack the new CD will take.
â€œIâ€™m just happy to be working,â€ he declared, â€œgrateful for being able to go into so many different parts of the world. Weâ€™ll also be touring Asia and this will be my seventh appearance in Poland.â€ Heâ€™ll also have stops in both London and Berlin, another cross-country tour and a two-week holiday run at the famed Blue Note in New Yorkâ€™s Greenwich Village at the end of the year. Heâ€™ll return to the Bay Area in September for a show at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga, he told last weekendâ€™s sell-out crowd of 1,400-plus at the landmark Oakville winery.
Saturdayâ€™s performance was the second Botti and company had offered in the Napa Valley in the span of a week. Last weekend, they were featured on the bill for the 125th anniversary celebration of Far Niente Winery, along with violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. In fact, Thibaudet stuck around this past week to perform at Festival del Sole dates throughout the valley and came to Saturdayâ€™s Mondavi event, which was featured as a Festival del Sole offering.
Coming to prominence with the 2001 recording of the â€œNight Sessionsâ€ CD, Botti has established a reputation as a versatile musician in both jazz and pop music for his ability to fuse both styles together. His PBS television programs and brilliant recordings, as well as frequent appearances in concert halls, have made Botti a household name.
Botti appeared here as well at Lincoln Theater two years ago with an outstanding group of musicians in tow. Back with Botti Saturday night was consummate pianist Billy Childs, who has arranged material for such artists as Sting, Gladys Knight, Michael BublÃ© and Dianne Reeves, with whom he last appeared here at the Mondavi summer festival. While the Grammy Award-winner is a significant jazz voice, he was on restricted duty the other night as he had injured a hand. Taking the lead on keyboards in various band jams was another top-flight keyboardist, Geoffrey Keezer.
Also returning was guitarist Mark Whitfield, a remarkable improviser. A student of the Wes Montgomery/George Benson school of jazz guitar, Whitfield was discovered by Benson and launched his solo career more than two decades ago. Whitfield has a brilliant melodic sense and chops to match. His extended solo on Miles Davisâ€™ â€œFlamenco Sketchesâ€ made the blood run hot.
Equally talented string player Carlos Enrique, a relative newcomer, gave the eveningâ€™s repertoire a lot of funky bottom, whether Enrique was playing standup or electric bass.
One of the worldâ€™s elite drummers, Billy Kilson is also a member of Bottiâ€™s musical posse. Kilson demonstrated speed, dexterity and a playful mood the other night. Botti brands Kilson as the worldâ€™s best â€œbad assâ€ drummer. Few would argue with that assessment after taking in Saturdayâ€™s concert.
Lucia Micarelli is back on the tour, Botti noted, after recovering remarkably from an almost devastating hand injury. Sheâ€™s an exceptional violinist who traded leads with Botti on Ennio Morriconeâ€™s haunting â€œLove Theme from Cinema Paradiso.â€
Grammy Award-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer (â€œHow Can I Ease the Pain?â€) provided distinguished, memorable interpretations of standards, such as â€œThe Very Thought of You,â€ and displayed a funky, playful side with Burt Bacharachâ€™s â€œThe Look of Love.â€ Sheâ€™s a great addition to the lineup.
Additional highlights included a silky arrangement by Botti and Whitfield of Leonard Cohenâ€™s â€œHallelujahâ€ and a rip-roaring arrangement of â€œIndian Summerâ€ that closed the choice second set.
Bottiâ€™s two hour show was remarkable for a couple of reasons. Of course, we were awed by the incredible talent on display.
But there was also another notable element that has been missing at Mondavi for some time now. It was the sound of respect. When the headliner played a quiet note, took a necessary breath, or his outstanding vocalist whispered a familiar lyric, we could hear, we could relate. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. This was a crowd that had come to listen to the music, not to impress one another with recent exploits. This was a crowd showing respect to those around them, not the bunch of rowdies thatâ€™ve shown up for once-upon-a-time nightclub acts, dance bands and blowzy has-bands weâ€™ve come to accept in recent Mondavi seasons.
Would that we could return to this caliber of concert and audience a couple of times each season at least. Well, hope springs eternal.
- 29 July 2010
Tune in to ABC Sunday morning to hear the official "The Week with Christiane Amanpour" theme song composed by Chris Botti and David Foster.
Find out where and when the show is on in your area and be sure to check local listings for this week's air-time.
- 26 July 2010
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.
- 13 July 2010
By Don Heckman
Chris Bottiâ€™s traveling road show made its annual appearance at the Greek Theatre Saturday night. And the enthusiastic, near capacity crowd loved every minute of the two hour performance.
And why shouldnâ€™t they. Bottiâ€™s warm and engaging trumpet sound is one of the most appealing timbres on the contemporary jazz scene. He was backed by a sterling ensemble of players â€“ pianist Billy Childs, guitarist Mark Whitfield, keyboardist Geoff Keezer, bassist Carlos Henriquez and drummer Billy Kilson. And his two guest stars â€“ violinist Lucia Micarelli and singer Lisa Fischer â€“ quickly revealed the capacity to steal a show from anybody.
Good ingredients are vital, of course, whether itâ€™s putting together an entertaining show or making a memorable lasagna. But equally important is the way theyâ€™re put together. And Bottiâ€™s pacing and his sequencing were beautifully done.
Start with a lyrical â€œAve Mariaâ€ to assure the audience members eagerly anticipating the Botti sound. Then switch into an exploratory â€œWhen I Fall In Love,â€ showcasing some of the most musically adventurous passages of the night, provided by the improvisationally exploratory imagination of Childs. Follow up with more Botti lyricism, this time in a reading of â€œCaruso,â€ from his Italia album.
By this point, all the pieces were beginning to smoothly fit into place. A loose romp through Miles Davisâ€™ â€œSketches of Spainâ€ allowed Botti to stretch his commendable solo chops (compensating for his somewhat confused introductory assessment of the importance of the Davis Kind of Blue album). And the evening hit its first peak with the stunning â€œEmmanuelâ€ duet between Botti and the gorgeous drama of Micarelliâ€™s violin playing.
The eveningâ€™s second half took everything up another level. Among the highlights: a loose-limbed romp through â€œGood Morning Heartache,â€ performed with plenty of improvisational spunk, despite its minimal connection with either the meaning or the intent of the song itself; another musically intimate duet between Botti and Micarelli, this time with Ennio Morriconeâ€™s gorgeous love theme melody from the film Cinema Paradiso.
And, perhaps most intriguing of all, the gripping vocal magic of Lisa Fischer. Although sheâ€™s had a kind of major league visibility singing back-up for the likes of Luther Vandross and the Rolling Stones, Fischer is an extraordinary artist in her own right. And the interpretive range she displayed â€“ from â€œThe Look of Loveâ€ and â€œThe Very Thought of Youâ€ to her counter tenor version of Andrea Bocelliâ€™s vocal on â€œItaliaâ€ was the stuff of a major league talent. The time is overdue for her solo career to take off.
Botti, who engaged the audience in entertaining fashion with his between songs remarks ended the night in appropriately up close fashion, turning off all the amplification and strolling into the crowd to play â€“ with the sole accompaniment of Childsâ€™ piano â€“ â€œOne For My Baby (And One More For the Road).â€ Appropriate, because of the intimacy of the way it was done. And appropriate because the Chris Botti traveling road show was on its way again, heading north for a midweek date in Milwaukee.
- 19 May 2010
Versatile trumpeter Chris Botti might be the biggest Miles Davis fan that I have ever met. There is nothing that Chris does not know about Miles, his trumpet artistry, recordings and legacy. His energy on the subject is boundless and on this podcast episode, you will hear that passion for yourself.
- Joseph Vella
- 17 May 2010
By Peter Landsdowne - TELEGRAM & GAZETTE REVIEWER
WORCESTER â€” Poor Chris Botti. The talented trumpeter with the tousled blond hair made People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list in 2004; and ever since then, some jazz aficionados have accused him of being a musical lightweight. Wrong!
Botti sent his detractors packing last night at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts during "An Evening with Chris Botti," which was presented by Music Worcester Inc. as part of the Worcester Music Festival. Backed by his band (acoustic pianist Billy Childs, electric keyboardist Andy Ezrin, guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Billy Kilson), the trumpeter turned in a solid two-hour-long concert that showed that he knows how to handle the horn. An audience of 2,000 Botti fans packed the venue.
Botti began the concert with just pianist Childs backing him on a reverential version of "Ave Maria." Botti's beautifully burnished trumpet tone was much in evidence on this selection, as was his range. His sustained high note that ended the piece served as a cue for the rest of the band to take the stage.
The trumpeter's take on the standard "When I Fall in Love" had Botti playing a sonic tribute to trumpeter Miles Davis, one of his acknowledged influences. Botti began the song with a wistful interpretation of the melody before drummer Childs doubled the tempo. Botti responded with a muscular trumpet improvisation that featured a bold and brassy sound and some deft valve work that pointed toward another influence on Botti, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. It should be noted here that pianist Childs once performed with Hubbard and that Botti once studied with trumpeter Woody Shaw, Hubbard's successor in the jazz trumpet lineage.
Botti switched gears on an operatic "Caruso," which the trumpeter dedicated to Pavarotti. Electric keyboardist Ezrin provided some orchestral effects as Botti provided a superb example of what trumpet players call "singing on the horn." The composition was a selection from Botti's popular DVD "Chris Botti in Boston," as was "Emmanuelle," which featured special guest Lucia Micarelli on violin. Micarelli was also on board for a haunting duet with Botti on Italian film composer Ennio Morricine's "Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso."
Singer Nicki Richards, another special guest that Botti plucked from Madonna's contingent of backup vocalists, nearly stole the show during her three-song stint with the trumpeter and his band. She belted out the pop classic "The Look of Love" before toning things down on "The Very Thought of You," another classic from The Great American Songbook. Botti contributed a beautifully crafted a capella trumpet solo as an introduction to the latter tune, which ended with the trumpeter ascending chromatically into his trumpet's high register.
Singer Richards and Botti transformed the Billie Holiday ballad "Good Morning Heartache" by performing it over drummer Kilson's funk groove. Botti's powerful trumpet solo included a nice touch: A quote from trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia." Richards picked up the riff and intoned it in unison with Botti's horn to end the tune.
Botti was at his jazzy best on "Flamenco Sketches," a selection from the classic Miles Davis album "Kind of Blue." The trumpeter invited Boston-based alto saxophonist Grace Kelly to the stage to duet with him on this one. Just 18 years old, Kelly is being touted as an up and coming jazz star, an observation that she reinforced with her searing solo on "Flamenco Sketches." Botti responded with a smoldering solo that quickly caught fire and drew some spontaneous applause from the crowd.
Drummer Kilson's bombastic drum solo on "Indian Summer," not the standard of the same name but another tune in a funk groove, garnered a standing ovation from the audience. Botti promised an encore, which he prefaced by asking any young musicians in the crowd to identify themselves. The trumpeter then gave one 9-year-old piano student the thrill of her musical life by escorting her to the stage to sit by pianist Childs as Botti, who by this time was three rows deep in the crowd, played a fervent version of Frank Sinatra's "One for My Baby" with just Childs backing him up.
It was a nice gesture, as was Botti's suggestion to the parents in the crowd that if they want to wean their kids from the instant gratification of the Internet, video games, and other such pursuits, have them learn how to play a musical instrument. Judging from the brisk sales of Botti's CDs in the lobby after the concert, there'll be plenty of trumpets under the tree come Christmas.