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.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Photo and Story by Pocholo Concepcion
If Madonna in MOA Arena was a spectacle, Chris Botti and Sting in concert on March 3 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom was an exceptionally euphoric musical experience.
This was one special gig that featured one of the most brilliant contemporary jazz trumpet artists back-to-back with one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most distinctive voices who happened to have dabbled in jazz early in his career and went on to explore it after the breakup of his band, The Police.
Botti and Sting had one thing in common, a fine taste for musicianship, which was on full display at the concert. It was Botti’s show, but when Sting walked in after a few songs, it seemed like Botti gave way to let Sting’s Filipino fans have the time of their lives singing and grooving to “Message in a Bottle,” Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Roxanne,” among other Police classics plus several of his solo nuggets, “Fields of Gold,” “Desert Rose” and his first song for the night, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.”
Nonetheless Botti proved a point early in the show, that his mastery of the trumpet, as Sting himself told Inquirer in a recent email interview, brings the instrument to “its most poetic, vocal-like quality.”
Botti’s band, led by pianist extraordinaire Geoffrey Keezer, was smoking hot–tripping the light fantastic with bursts of bebop and all-around excellence.
In the end, the music lifted the crowd so high and energized that a number of fans–including the vacationing Los Angeles-based Bubut Posadas and her college friend Wing Inductivo–unwittingly found themselves just an arm’s length from Sting and taking all the selfies and videos their phone cameras could allow. No burly bouncers to stop them.
It was such a fun night that called to mind the clever remark of a friend, DJ Par Sallan, who said that this concert could’ve been dubbed “Message in a Botti.” CDG
Read more: http://entertainment.inquirer.net/191469/message-in-a-botti#ixzz41xOi3MPB
The Philippine Daily Inquirer by Pocholo Concepcion
Like Madonna’s two-night concerts last week, Chris Botti’s coming gig with Sting on March 3 at the Marriott Grand Ballroom has pricey tickets.
That’s understandable, considering you’ll be watching two major artists in one show.
This marks the first time Botti and Sting will perform together in Manila.
They first worked together in 1999, when Botti was invited as a featured soloist on Sting’s Brand New Day tour. Botti and Sting recently had an e-mail chat with Inquirer Lifestyle.
Chris, you studied and worked hard as a musician before achieving success. Can you recall a few instances which you consider turning points in your journey, and why?
Meeting Sting, by far. It’s his friendship that I’m most proud of in my life. If I were to look at any accomplishment or association, by a long shot it’s my friendship with him. We’re family now, and his belief in me is the reason why I have a career, I can trace it to that. We get along so well and have become so close; to have such respect and admiration for someone and have it returned is truly amazing.
What he does and the way he conducts his life, I try in many ways to emulate. It’s based on being on the road a lot, the dedication you get from music, performing the music, landing in a city and getting straight to yoga, maintaining the practice – all those things that I have picked up from him have helped me enormously in my career.
When I was in his band, he gave me so much exposure by doing solos with me. But it was his urging that really made me, and the opportunity to be his opening act throughout the world that really launched my career in a big-time way. He’s always been my biggest supporter, best friend, and my big brother, really.
If you were to advise young musicians who want to widen their knowledge of jazz, which album would you recommend that they start with, and why?
I can’t say I have just one album I’d recommend. I’m always listening to Miles Davis’ “My Funny Valentine” (a live album recorded during a concert at the Philharmonic Hall of Lincoln Center, New York, on Feb. 12, 1964, and released Feb. 23, 1965 on the Columbia label); Keith Jarrett’s “The Melody At Night, With You” (recorded at his home studio in 1998, released on ECM in 1999); and “Frank Sinatra Sings For Only the Lonely” (a collection of torch songs, released September 1958 on Capitol).
You and Sting have played in the Philippines on separate occasions, not together onstage. How are you preparing for this show?
I honestly have had many people, like my friends, come to me and go, “Chris, I’m coming to your show tomorrow, I have never seen you play before, so is it just you and the trumpet?” They don’t realize it’s a night with an incredible jazz group, which moves around from classical to jazz to pop, and you have all these lines being blurred and it’s incredibly fun! Afterwards, people say, “I had no idea it would be like that.” We crafted it over many years of trial and a lot of errors.
I obsess about my show all day because I want it to be musically entertaining and also musically “high-end” for the fans… It’s not lost on me that we have fans who buy tickets, take a night off and come to the show. It means so much.
What is the one guilty pleasure that you look forward to whenever you’re home or on holiday?
Honestly, I’m not very good at relaxing and I don’t really go on holiday. I’m a bit of a workaholic, although I don’t view it as work. I’ve been doing the same thing since I was 9 years old; it’s just that now I get paid to do it, it’s awesome!
I practice yoga and enjoy playing chess, but being on tour and playing for my fans is what I look forward to every day. We’re on the road 300 days a year and people ask, “How do you have a life?” I don’t, but I wouldn’t change anything.
Sting, in the past, you’ve collaborated with a number of prominent musicians, lately with Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel. What’s the greatest insight you’ve gained from everything?
I’ve been fortunate to work with many supremely talented musicians over the years. I tend to surround myself with people whom I can learn something from, and my strategy has always been to play with musicians better than myself. I maintain a childlike curiosity about music, along with a sense that I need to work at it. I never want to stop learning.
What’s it like to perform with Chris Botti?
Chris brings the trumpet to its most poetic, vocal-like quality. He’s altogether unique in that respect. His sound provides a compelling complement to my vocals and it’s always a true joy to perform with him.
You’ve played and experimented with practically all kinds of music. Which genre would you say is closest to your heart, and why?
I enjoy the creative freedom I have and the ability to do what interests me. I get bored pretty easily, and so I always like to do something new and that is hopefully surprising. I think my audience has come to expect that element of surprise.
This will be the first time that you and Botti will be playing in the Philippines. What excites you about it?
It gives you a chance to show an audience you’re a real human being; you still sweat and sometimes make mistakes. That close up, everything’s kind of human, which I like. I still get a buzz from being on stage. There’s no way to describe the feeling of playing for people who are pleased to see you. That’s something you can’t be blasé about.
What new things have you learned from aging?
I tend to live in the moment and don’t really think too much about the future or necessarily about the past. I recently celebrated my 64th birthday, and I’m glad that I’m my age. It’s fun because I have both sides of it – a bit of wisdom and the energy of a younger man.
The National by Saeed Saeed
If you are going to have Sting waiting in the wings as a special guest, then your show needs to be strong enough to starve off the anticipation. Chris Botti did a reasonable job of that with his Dubai Jazz Festival performance on Thursday night.
Joined by a near dozen strong backing band, the popular American trumpeter serenaded the packed crowd to an evening of jazz standards and reinterpretations of pop classics.
However, the Botti on stage is a different performer to his multimillion selling albums.
Where those records were nocturnal affairs and a soundtrack of choice for dinner parties, the 53 year old was much looser live as he indulged in several feats of dazzling improvisations among arrangements ranging from big band to straight out rock.
In the case of the latter, their take on Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir packed a real punch with Botti’s Spanish influenced tones adding extra pomp to the affair.
At times, one felt that Botti and his crew were trying too hard with the extended rock and blues jams — it almost felt like he was trying to justify himself for being the arena act that he now is.
It was when he dialled things down that Botti was in his element. His thoughtful take of Billie Holiday’s The Very Thought of You, featuring vocalist Sy Smith, was beautiful.
So was his treatment of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah; where the original revelled in mystery, Botti’s take was more refined and melodic.
It set the scene well for the arrival of Sting, who sauntered on to the stage over an hour into the set.
He began his mini solo set (Botti left the stage) with If I Ever Lose My Faith, demonstrating why the 64-year-old vocals remaining one of the best in the business.
By the time he breezed through English Man in New York and Message in A Bottle, one feared that Botti was totally overshadowed.
For all the talk of Sting’s ego, however, the rock icon was a gracious support act to Botti when the latter returned on stage.
One could sense the mutual appreciation between the two when they performed a joint set of Sting classics and covers.
When it came to the former, the laid back, jazzed-up vibe of Seven Dayswas a treat. However, their take on the Frank Sinatra classic In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning was a flop — the ache and heart break of the original was criminally replaced with Disneyesque schmaltzy arrangements.
That said, the set was varied enough to keep fans of both artists satisfied.