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Live Jazz: Chris Botti at the Greek Theatre

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.

The International Review of Music

CALIFORNIAN: Botti leaves good ‘Impressions’ on stage and record

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.

Read more at nctimes.com

Trumpeter Touches Emotions

Chris 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

Chris Botti Aims For Tears

By Kim O’Brien Root
Virginian-Pilot correspondent

Chris Botti has performed with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Andrea Bocelli.

He’s blown his trumpet in the White House, and in 2004 his trademark, blond-tousled hair earned him recognition as one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People.

It’s a nice list of career accomplishments. But what Botti really wants is to make you cry.

“The best compliment people can give me is that they were somehow moved to tears, in a good way,” Botti says. “That’s what I strive for. To move people’s emotions.”

Read more at hamptonroads.com

Trumpeter Chris Botti lends his golden tone to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra

By John Pitcher / Nashville Scene

Trumpet sensation Chris Botti has fans all over the world. Apparently, some of his most ardent listeners live in Poland, a place that’s never been known as a cool jazz hot spot.

“I first went to Poland in 2000 as part of Sting’s Brand New Day Tour,” says Botti, who’s in town this weekend to present a pops concert with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. “I was amazed at how warm and gracious everyone there was. So Poland has become a top priority for me, and I’ve been back 13 times since my first visit.”

Read more at nashvillescene.com

Botti making a big impression with new CD

BY MIRIAM DI NUNZIO Staff Reporter / Chicago Sun-Times

Never let it be said that jazz trumpeter Chris Botti rests on his laurels. He never rests — period. Especially when it comes to touring (he still plays about 300 dates a year ) and making music (he just dropped his 14th album in 17 years).

The Grammy-winning Botti, who’s touring resume includes stints with Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Sting, is perhaps best known for his jazz-pop fusion on critically acclaimed albums such as “Night Sessions” (2001) “A Thousand Kisses Deep” (2003) and “To Love Again: The Duets” (2005).

Botti has just released “Impressions” (Columbia Records), a collection of covers and original compositions that, well, trumpet, lush, provocative melodies. And as is often the case on a Botti CD, the album is not without its special guests; this time out the roster includes Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler, Herbie Hancock, David Foster and violinist Caroline Campbell.

One very special “guest” on the album is the presence of Frederic Chopin on the lead-off cut, “Prelude (No. 20 in C Minor)” in which Botti delivers a reverent homage to the iconic piece. It is a song very dear to his heart, the 49-year-old musician says.

“About 12 years ago when I began touring with Sting we played our first show in Poland and we were just taken aback by how amazing audiences were, how knowledgeable they were about different kinds of music,” Botti said during a recent phone conversation. “So I made it my mission to go back there as often as I could, and in April I did my 13th concert there over the past 8 years. When that horrific plane crash happened and the government leaders were lost, a year later the new government commissioned us to perform this piece. It was such an honor for me. It was our love letter to Poland. I felt it had to be on this album.”

Seems “Inspirations” is chock-full of songs from the heart. On Randy Newman’s “Losing You,” Gill’s crystalline vocals and Botti’s velvet trumpeting combine for one of the prettiest covers of this ballad you’re likely to ever come across.

“I can’t think of a more heartbreaking song that’s just so perfectly written,” Botti said. “ The first thought that came into my head was I have to record this with Vince Gill. I’m such a huge fan of his and he has this super-rare instrument for a voice. So we went out to Nashville and cut the song with just Vince and his pianist. Then we went back to L.A. and did all the drapery (adding the orchestra). I think people will be very surprised by this one.”

The album’s arrangements are sweeping at times and perfectly succinct at others, thanks in no small measure to the talents of orchestrators Vince Mendoza, William Ross and Gil Goldstein, among others.

“We had the luck to work with incredible arrangers, and we could take our time,” Botti said of the album, which was produced (save for the Knopfler track) by his longtime manager/producer Bobby Colomby. “Nowadays in the record business you listen to an album and there might be one or two good songs, but there’s really no depth, no texture to the album. We wanted to achieve those textures. If you look at Herbie Hancock’s take on “Tango Suite” (co-written by Botti), there’s a real sophisticated texture to the song. If you look at David Foster’s take on “Summertime” (co-arranged by Botti) it creates a mood and keeps you there till the last note.”

Of the Hancock track, Botti is still in awe recalling how the legendary pianist dove into their writing collaboration.

“Herbie and I spent a day at his house. He just sits at his piano and does this thing where he doesn’t play right away. He’s just calculating it all in his brain. … Then he plays the first chord and then I played and then he plays a cluster and then I do, and we just meandered around on that for a while. We listened to about 20 minutes of improvising and sort of grabbed little bits of a song, and then Vince Mendoza came over for a day and wrote the final arrangement. We did the track live with the whole orchestra crammed into the studio. … It was just this surreal, incredible experience.”

And as for the Knopfler-Botti duet on “What a Wonderful World,” Botti is beyond grateful for the opportunity.

“That’s just the most random thing I will probably ever do in my career,” Botti said chuckling. “My manager is a good friend of his, and after [a series of phone calls] it just fell into place. I recorded it in London in his studio with his band. It’s all shepherded by Mark because that’s the way he works. There’s this genuineness that comes through in the way he speak-sings the lyrics. The core of the song was one take, straight through. He was particular about doing it that way. It’s one vocal performance. He’s a stickler on that. He just nailed it.”