The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest was quite the rollicking party — from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic on Friday night through the Whispers closing things out on Sunday evening.
In between, trumpeteer Chris Botti put on one of the festival’s most amazing sets ever, elevating what it means to be a headliner at the festival. Botti ventured out into the audience a couple of times, had a singer on stage to sing Puccini and even brought a 9-year-old girl up on stage from the audience to play the drums.
Stephanie Adrian for Arts ATL
In 2008, jazz trumpeter Chris Botti produced and recorded his Grammy-nominated concert recording, Chris Botti in Boston with the Boston Pops Orchestra. The formula was foolproof, featuring duets with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Lucia Micarelli and such pop icons as Sting, John Mayer and Steven Tyler. Known as a marathon performer who takes the stage some 280 days a year, Botti and his electric band have recently launched a new tour and will see concert venues in Warsaw and Westhampton Beach, San Francisco and Seattle among countless other cities this year.
Botti arrived at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on Friday night in an attempt to recreate the alchemy he had found years ago in Boston, yet with a different ensemble of guest artists accompanied by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Albert-George Schram.
Playing on a 1939 Martin Committee Handcraft Large Bore, Botti opened with Ennio Morricone’s theme “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission in duet with violinist Caroline Campbell. Blonde and statuesque, Campbell is not only the first violinist in the Los Angeles-based Sonus Quartet, but is also a favorite collaborator for such illustrious artists as Andrea Bocelli and Barbra Streisand.
Appearing several times throughout the concert, Campbell’s playing is broad and at times fierce; she has impeccable intonation and executed string crossings and double stops with flair, prancing around the stage while playing Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
For each of the last 12 years, Chris Botti has spent the holidays at the Blue Note Jazz Club, bringing his trumpet, his high-gloss production values and his ace touring band. What began as a standard booking at the club has expanded into a monthlong residency, full of surprise drop-ins and celebrity cameos.
“It’s like a big party every night,” Mr. Botti said the other day, a week into his current run. “It’s also given me a chance to stretch the band out. We do 56 shows in 28 days, and we always come out of this a much stronger unit all around.”
A jazz-pop powerhouse who keeps a grueling tour schedule — he’s on the road some 280 nights out of the year — Mr. Botti also relishes that the engagement means staying in one place for a while. He talked about his seasonal tradition, and why he won’t be playing “Sleigh Bells.” These are excerpts from the conversation.
Trumpeter Chris Botti, who performed Friday night at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, has become an annual visitor to the Nicollet Mall concert venue. As usual, most of the hall’s seats were occupied, since the constantly touring Botti knows how to please audiences and keep them coming back for more.
The Grammy winner began his career as a jazz musician, but expanding his musical repertoire to embrace pop and rock has made Botti one of the top-selling instrumentalists ever; he’s sold more than 4 million CDs.
Earlier in his career, Botti did separate tours as a sideman backing two of the most successful pop artists of modern times: Paul Simon and Sting. Doing so gave Botti exposure to audiences beyond the somewhat limited jazz category, and he must have picked up some pointers on how to engage an audience and create a sense of intimacy, even in a large, rock-scale venue.
With CD and concert-ticket sales like his, Botti can afford to hire top-shelf musicians and singers, and that is what he does.
One of the most dramatic pieces of the 90-minute performance was Botti’s crystalline rendition of Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” which the late Miles Davis introduced to jazz fans on his “Sketches of Spain” album. He followed that with one of his own ballad hits, which some of the avid Botti fans in the audience recognized after just a couple of notes.
Then Botti quickly switched gears, blowing brassy midrange riffs over an electric funk tune designed to showcase the group’s powerhouse drummer, Lee Pearson.
Botti the ballad specialist reprised a couple of jazz standards, “When I Fall In Love” and the moody “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” The group used the latter piece as a launching pad for an uptempo instrumental workout with Pearson, bassist Richie Goods, Botti and pianist Taylor Eigsti alternating high-flying solos at a breakneck pace.
Botti also honored the recently departed singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, spotlighting guitarist Ben Butler on an instrumental version of Cohen’s signature piece, “Hallelujah.”
Another instrumental virtuoso touring with the group is violinist Corline Campbell, who earned a standing ovation with a briskly played solo classical piece.
Botti’s traveling troupe also includes a couple of show-stopping vocal talents. One of them is dazzling R&B singer Sy Smith, who was part of “The Tonight Show” band during Jay Leno’s tenure. Smith raised the roof with a soaring version of “The Very Thought of You,” showing off her stunning vocal range, at times vocally resembling the singer Randy Crawford.
Then she and Botti traded stratospheric high notes on a rendition of “The Look of Love,” a tune featured on Botti’s Grammy-winning “live” DVD.
Several years ago Botti paid homage to his Italian roots with an album called “Italia,” co-writing the title track with the great operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli and performing it with him in Italy. Near the end of Friday night’s concert, Botti brought out a lesser-known but also impressive opera singer named Rafael Moras to reprise the dramatic piece.
Dan Emerson is a freelance writer and musician in Minneapolis.
NAPA, California, November 9, 2016 – Blue Note Napa had its grand opening last week, shimmering with sparkle and pizzazz. Grammy award-winning jazz trumpet great Chris Botti opened the festivities at this swanky new downtown Napa club, and they could not have found a better act to christen the sloop.
The Blue Note, mostly known for its club in New York City, has a long-standing reputation as one of the best live jazz venues in the world. Bay Area jazz and blues lovers can rejoice and celebrate the arrival of this legendary club on America’s Left Bank.
The Blue Note is known for its intimacy and gritty vibe that pulses from the stage. Could Napa truly capture the essence of NYC jazz and blues in the heart of California wine country? The answer is a resounding yes!
From the blue hue that hums throughout the space to the vintage horns visually blaring from the walls and a stage that that puts each act right the midst of music fans in attendance, this Napa club vibrates with and actually captures the true feeling of Blue Note NY.
The vibe of opening week, with Botti taking main stage, was electric. The crowd was riled up, almost like a down and dirty blues show more than an elegant night of jazz. But Botti embraced the vocal and highly enthusiastic crowd.
Botti is truly a renaissance man when it comes to music. He’s collaborated with rock, classical, R&B and blues musicians aplenty. With four-million+ albums sold, he has discovered a form of creative expression that begins in jazz and expands beyond the limits of any single genre. Botti has thoroughly established himself as one of the foremost innovative figures of the contemporary music world without a doubt.
The top two highlights of a great night:
Guest violinist Lucia Micarelli was given the stage by Botti in appreciation of her incredible talent. As she slowly began to pull her bow methodically across the strings, the crowd was cleverly teased with a melody that they didn’t quite recognize. As the reverberations from her bow increased, the volume increased to a level that matched her energizing presence on stage as she seamlessly broke into Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” The crowd was aroused to near-ecstasy as her violin replicated the high-pitched vocals of Robert Plant.
Botti closed the night with “My Funny Valentine.” There was an excited murmur running through the energized crowd, which then slowly ebbed like a wave dying down as it reaches the shore. With each weepy note, the crowd became increasingly quiet, mesmerized by the clarity and perfect pitch of each note Botti played. This is jazz. This is the Blue Note.
Grammy Award winning artist and Shure endorser Chris Botti spent some time with us in Nashville to discuss his inspirations, why he likes audience interaction, and how the wireless Beta 98H/C is an important part of capturing the sound of his trumpet.
The Virginia-Pilot, by Ed Condran Correspondent
While fronting the Police, Sting crafted the jaunty “Man in a Suitcase” 36 years ago. As it turns out, a good friend of Sting’s, trumpet player Chris Botti, is living that life – and loving it.
The Grammy Award winner sold his luxurious Hollywood Hills home and almost all of his possessions two years ago and moved into a Manhattan hotel.
“I can literally fit all of my belongings into two suitcases,” Botti said while calling from Portsmouth, N.H. “I own a trumpet, a couple of suits and a nice watch. I don’t even own a storage locker. I love it. I had the house with the pool that drops off the cliff (in Los Angeles) and I had the sports car, but I realized I wasn’t that guy. I’m so much happier living life this way.”
Botti, 53, who will perform tonight at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, just lives for the music. He’s on tour so often that he spends little time at his hotel, save one month a year when he does a residency at Manhattan’s Blue Note in December.
“I love that, since I get to walk to work,” Botti said. “It’s the greatest.”
The charismatic entertainer’s last album is 2012’s “Impressions,” but he isn’t even thinking about his next release.
Botti said he is focusing on his show – part rock, part jazz and part classical.
“What I want to do is put the listener in a hypnotic state,” Botti said. “When you come to the concert, I want to put some heat under it. I want to blow your head off.”
The well-respected jazz player sounds like a death metalist: “I admit it, I’m pumped up.”
There is plenty of material for him to select. Botti has nine albums to draw from and can play many different styles.
“I’m not hurting for songs,” he said. “It’s not easy to put together what I’ll play. But I go for it. All of my focus is on this tour. I’m not going to even think new album until 2017. I lead a charmed life.”
He certainly has made some key connections.
In 1990, Botti started a decadelong touring and recording relationship with Paul Simon.
“He might be the greatest songwriter ever,” Botti said. “What I learned from him is to pay attention to details. You wouldn’t believe how many top musicians play out of key.”
In 1999, he began touring with Sting, who allowed him to solo during his shows.
“Sting is one of the nicest guys in the business,” Botti said. “He was all about me getting noticed. He told me that he would expose me to his fans and that they, even if they weren’t jazz fans, could become fans of mine. I ventured out on a 26-month tour and it was amazing. Sting eventually ‘fired’ me and made me his opening act. He has helped me and so many other recording artists. I felt like the angel came down from the heavens and connected me with Sting.”
Some folks in the music industry are less than complimentary when Sting’s name is dropped.
“I hate him, too,” Botti joked. “The guy is a freak of nature. He’s so talented. He’s good-looking and in such great shape. To put it in perspective, as great as Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant are, can they play jazz like Sting in front of an orchestra?”
Botti and Sting live within blocks of each other in Manhattan and often hit the town together.
“We go to premieres of movies and just hang out,” Botti said. “That’s part of what’s great about living in my hotel, I can live life to the fullest and only go a few blocks from my apartment, which is incredibly spare.”
Botti’s hotel is so spartan that it doesn’t include the Grammy he won in 2013 for best pop instrumental album for “Impressions.”
“It’s not in my hotel, but I didn’t sell it when I sold off all my possessions. The Grammy is in my manager’s office. I don’t need things. I just need music and a place to sleep.”
Read at PilotOnline.com
Washington Performing Arts Produces an Eclectic and Entertaining Musical Evening with Chris Botti
I went to a Chris Botti concert and Cirque du Soleil and Led Zepplin broke out. Saturday night’s Washington Performing Arts concert by Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti was eclectic, entertaining, and downright electrifying.
A mesmerizing trumpet player, Botti is also a storyteller who thrives on audience interaction. Arguably one of the top jazz trumpeters in America today, Botti surrounds himself with some of the best musicians in the music industry, proving himself a gracious band leader by spotlighting every member of his dynamic band. Snazzily dressed, on time, and in the groove, Chris Botti’s band continues to share an infectious joy in making music together, even after 12 years of nearly nonstop road appearances.
When I Fall In Love, a reimagined and reinvigorated take on a classic, highlighted the talent and intensity these musicians bring to their work. The fun was infectious as Botti on trumpet, Geoffrey Keezer on piano, Richie Goods on bass, Ben Butler on electric guitar, and Lee Pearson on drums swapped leads and tempos and created magic in The Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Goods turned in an impressive bass solo on an amped up Venice. Another highlight among highlights was Botti’s smooth and haunting duet with guitarist Ben Butler on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
DC native Sy Smith blew the roof off The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall with her rendition of Burt Bacharach’s The Look of Love. The unison scatting by Smith and Botti was nothing short of phenomenal, and Smith emphatically proved that it really is possible for a human voice to replicate a trumpet line (even a trumpet line as smooth, sustained and multi-octaved as Botti’s). In a scene-stealing turn, Smith showed off her elegant vocals with versatility, tossing off sultry jazz and diva pop vocals with ease and assurance.
One of my favorite songs of the night, The Very Thought of You, brought Botti and Smith into the audience for a sultry duet that morphed into a rock concert with hot guitar solos by Ben Butler and Richie Goods, as well as intense solos by Lee Pearson on drums and Geoffrey Keezer and Ben Stivers on piano and keyboards respectively. There is nothing this group of musicians can’t do.
Lee Pearson’s infectious grin and enthusiastic drumming stole the show numerous times, particularly in You Don’t Know What Love Is, where his athletic and flamboyant drum solo sent drumsticks flying at the head of bassist Richie Goods, leading to much good-natured joking the rest of the evening. Pearson showed himself a drummer par excellence with a show stopping solo featuring his six year old son, Lee, at the end of the show.
Concert violinist Sandy Cameron proved the truth of Shakespeare’s lines: “though she be but little, she is fierce.” Acrobatic, athletic, and commanding, Cameron’s powerful violin playing approached the realm of performance art. Cameron and Botti teamed up for a heartwrenching and soulful Emmanuel. On a virtuoso solo turn that morphed into a raucous Kashmir with the band, Cameron brought the crowd to its feet with an electrifying performance that showed the full range of her skill.
Saturday’s concert at The Kennedy Center proved yet again why Chris Botti and his fantastic band are some of the most talented and entertaining musicians on the concert circuit today.
Read the article at DC Metro Theater Arts
Jakarta. The pouring rain outside on Sunday evening (06/03) did not dampen the festival-goers’ spirit to catch two special shows by David Foster as well as Chris Botti and Sting, which marked the final night of the weekend-long 2016 Java Jazz Festival, which took place at the Jakarta International Expo Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.
The Canadian composer and mega-producer Foster hit the main stage with his band at 6.30 p.m. Although the hall wasn’t nearly as packed as the night before — when Foster also performed a similar set — the show’s atmosphere was as charming.
Berget Lewis, a Dutch jazz singer, stunned the audience with her powerful vocal, singing classics like Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” and Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” — both of which were produced by Foster.
Settling himself behind a grand piano, Foster also led his band to play some of his favorite songs, such as “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and “Glory of Love.”
For some Indonesians, the composer has become a familiar figure, having held numerous concerts in Jakarta in the last several years. Still, Foster’s presence at the festival last weekend only further proved his ever-lasting musical career.
Speaking of relevance, British rock star Sting also demonstrated his when he collaborated with the Grammy-winning trumpeter, Chris Botti, in the festival’s grand finale at around 10 a.m.
Botti started his set playing solo, introducing the crowd to his jazz arrangements of such songs as “Deborah’s Theme” and “When I Fall in Love.”
“It’s so nice to be back at the world-famous Java Jazz!” he exclaimed between his virtuosic performances that managed to cast a spell on the audience.
He then discovered that Foster, fresh from playing his own show, was watching him front the front row. “It’s a little nerve-racking to see David Foster here,” Botti laughed. “If he looks a little sour, then I know something I play might be off!”
American violinist Caroline Campbell was then invited to the stage and played “Emmanuel” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is” with Botti. The ululating violin sound she masterly produced united beautifully with the trumpeter’s soaring and cascading performance — presenting an avalanche of melodies that left the audience spellbound.
During “The Very Thought of You,” Botti unexpectedly stepped down from the stage and played among the crowd, dedicating the song to one lucky audience member.
Not long after, it was time for the night’s main course. “Make some noise for the one and only Sting!” Botti proclaimed to loud cheers.
The former Police frontman, still looking fit and youthful at 64, instantly launched into his hits from the 1980s and 1990s, like “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” with Sting’s fans in the audience joyously sang along to the lyrics.
“I’m overjoyed to play with Chris and his band for the second evening,” Sting told the crowd before he played “Seven Days,” which Botti dedicated to “the musicologists in the audience.”
The combination of Sting’s trademark vocal and Botti’s trumpet maneuver made for an amazing spectacle that night, tackling beloved songs like “Roxanne,” “Desert Love,” and “The World Is Running Down.” Even Botti asked Eric Benet, who sat in the front row, to sing “Let’s Stay Together” on the stage — certainly one of the festival’s highlights this year.
The grand show finally ended around midnight, when the duo performed Sting’s 1987 slow-burning hit, “Fragile,” leaving the audience soaked in amazement.