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Chris Botti’s jazz-pop fusion

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.

Watch the video at cbc.ca