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.
We just finished rehearsals today and I’m very excited to be heading out for a group of special performances featuring my good friend Sting. We’re so looking forward to performing in Dubai, Georgia, Manila and Jakarta with 2 1/2 hours of music featuring our most popular songs!
February 25th – Dubai, UAE
February 27th and 28th – Tbilisi, Georgia
March 3rd – Manila, Philippines
March 5th and 6th – Jakarta, Indonesia
NBC will celebrate the lighting of the world’s most famous Christmas tree with “Christmas in Rockefeller Center®” on Wednesday, Dec. 2 (8-9 p.m. ET).
NBC’s “Today” anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Natalie Morales will host the live broadcast from New York City’s Rockefeller Center, which will showcase spectacular holiday performances from Sting, Mary J. Blige, Andrea Bocelli, The Band Perry, Andy Grammer, Carly Rae Jepsen, Pentatonix, Band of Merrymakers, and music legend James Taylor, featuring world-renowned trumpeter Chris Botti. The evening will also include a special performance by the Rockettes.
The 83rd annual holiday extravaganza will feature a 78-foot tall Norway Spruce from Gardiner, N.Y. It is approximately 80 years old and weighs approximately 10 tons.
Once again, “Green Is Universal,” NBCUniversal’s sustainability initiative in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, will kick off its annual tree-planting campaign during the “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” broadcast. This year, viewers can “GIF’t a Tree” to a national or state park or forest, by using #GIFtATree or visiting www.greenisuniversal.com to create and share an animated holiday tree GIF. Each action will contribute to the Arbor Day Foundation’s tree planting efforts, funded by a $25,000 donation from NBCUniversal.
Prior to the primetime telecast, an additional live hour of the special will be broadcast on select NBC stations (7-8 p.m. ET). Check local listings.
By L Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register
World traveling trumpeter Chris Botti stopped off in Napa last week with his latest musical ensemble.
The generous two-hour-plus show that Botti and eight colleagues presented to a full house of fans at the Uptown Theatre turned out to be an absolute corker. The tightly knit, wildly talented ensemble was, as the saying goes, hitting on all cylinders.
As she usually does, violinist and Stanford grad Caroline Campbell raised eyebrows and gooseflesh. The classically trained artist caresses with dreamy ballads, then gets down when the tempo is turned up.
We’ve heard vocalist Sy Smith before but no one’s ever been better at delivering the Al Green hit “Let’s Stay Together” … except for Al Green, of course.
Danville’s George Komsky, offering the operatic “Italia” and “Time to Say Goodbye” with his warm, soaring voice, let Napans know why he’s ranked one of the best tenors in the nation.
Pianist Geoffrey Keezer — who earned his stripes as a young man with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers — dazzled us with not only his arrangements but also the improvisational solos contributed throughout the evening.
And who in the audience was not blown away by the new addition to the rhythm section, drummer Lee Pearson? Not only has he backed such acclaimed jazzmen as Roy Ayers and Ronnie Laws as well as singer Erykah Badu, Pearson was part of a world tour with Savion Glover’s Tony Award-winning Broadway show, “Bring in Da’ Noise, Bring in Da’ Funk” from 2002-2003.
Commenting on the newest band member, Botti points out that Pearson is “a very unusual combination of jaw-dropping chops, showmanship and finesse.” And that’s just what Pearson’s magnificent solo near the end of last week’s concert was — jaw-dropping. I suspect Gene Krupa might well have been smilin’ from on high.
And then there’s three more top-shelf guys contributing to the mix — bassist Richie Goods, guitarist Ben Butler and keyboardist Andy Ezrin.
For those who think Chris Botti is all about dreamy smooth jazz ballads, they need to catch a live performance. When Chris and his trumpet aren’t serving up “Emmanuel” or “Hallelujah,” they’re taking the lead on sizzling arrangements of Tin Pan Alley classics or breaking new ground with contemporary R&B hits. A terrific bandleader with an ear for talent, Botti is equally at ease with straight-ahead jazz, turning his bandmates loose for numerous crowd-pleasing solos.
By now, Botti is a familiar face in the valley, his trumpet a welcome and enjoyable sound. He’s played the Mondavi summer festival three times, appeared at Far Niente Winery as part of Festival del Sole and graced the Lincoln Theater and Napa Valley Opera House stages. And now he’s becoming a regular at the Uptown Theatre.
Botti is a native of Oregon who was born in Portland, raised in Corvallis, and spent two years of his childhood growing up in Italy. His earliest musical influence was his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher. He began playing trumpet at age 9 and, after hearing a recording of Miles Davis playing “My Funny Valentine,” realized the instrument was his key to “doing something meaningful with my life.”
Since the 2004 release of his critically acclaimed “When I Fall in Love,” Botti has become the largest selling American jazz instrumentalist, according to Billboard. In 2013, Botti won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album for his “Impressions” recording.
Botti’s fans couldn’t have been happier that the 53-year-old trumpeter chose to play in Napa on his birthday. It was a night to remember.
By Gary Budzak
For The Columbus Dispatch • Saturday June 20, 2015
Photo Credit: Leah Klafczynski / Dispatch
One of the Columbus Symphony’s favorite guests, trumpeter Chris Botti, turned in a typically top-notch performance Friday night in the Columbus Commons. However, the surprise of the evening was the weather — it didn’t rain.
Maybe it was the presence of WBNS-TV meteorologist Chris Bradley, telling us to keep our fingers crossed. It could have been CSO Board Chair Lisa Barton’s thanking the audience for braving the weather. Or perhaps it was what Botti called maestro Albert-George Schram’s good relationship with the man upstairs that kept the elements at bay. Then again, how could it rain on the opening Picnic with the Pops concert of the season?
Although the Commons was surrounded by clouds, it turned out to be a beautiful evening, completely dry with a slight breeze. The only negative of the night was too many sirens could be heard during the concert.
And what a concert it was. Unlike most pops shows, Botti and his band performed on both halves of the concert. In addition, the symphony played throughout, and could be heard well.
Botti, 52, is perhaps the most popular instrumentalist performing today. He’s equally at home playing a jazz solo, an operatic piece or a pop standard. While some of the audience may like Botti for his good looks, others favor his sound. When Botti plays his 1939 Martin Committee handcraft trumpet, it sounds more like a flugelhorn. He can get a strong but sad tone from the horn that redeems some of his smoother tunes.
Trumpeters aplenty have chops, but Botti also has the personality that allows a club or lawn audience to get into the show. He’s no shoe gazer — Botti breaks jazz down for first-timers. He said they play the melody, “the Taylor Swift part,” then on the solo “sometimes we go off to another planet.” Later, he went out into the audience, playing trumpet for people in front tables. Many cellphone photos were taken.
The other thing that made this a stellar show was the talent surrounding Botti. As a bandleader, he likes having people who play at his high level by his side and sharing the spotlight with them.
First was pianist Taylor Eigsti, who Botti said looked like Bradley Cooper and played like Bill Evans. Then there was expressive violinist Lucia Micarelli, who shifted from pathos to Kashmir without missing a beat. Botti also gave some love to bassist Richie Goods on Flamenco Sketches; Ben Butler (who may have been best on the opening En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor, although he got more cheers for the Iron Man riff); tenor George Komsky, who proved a ringer for Andrea Bocelli on Italia and Time to Say Goodbye. Last but not least, Botti made sure we heard a lot of trumpet-imitating singer Sy Smith and powerhouse drummer Lee Pearson. The latter’s long solo included balancing a stick on top of his head as he played.
Read the full concert review here at dispatch.com
BY ERIC HOLLAND
BY MIKE RAGOGNA
A Conversation with Chris Botti
Mike Ragogna: Chris, recently, you played the national anthem and it not only made national news but you also brought Reggie Wayne to tears. That must have been an amazing moment for you.
Chris Botti: I think I did one interview with the Indianapolis newspaper after I performed that, you’re the first person to ask me about it since then. But in my career, I’ve been very fortunate to have some really nice, freaky things happen, like Oprah Winfrey wants me on her show or something like that. Who would’ve ever thought in a million years that the cameras would be somehow fixed on this legendary football player on the exact moment that he starts tearing up? If I would’ve just played the anthem and that hadn’t happened then they would’ve just said, “Hey Chris, nice anthem.” It would’ve just been that. The drama of not only him being affected like that but also the TV cameras catching it is just the wildest thing. You practice millions and millions of hours playing trumpet and then this one thing comes along and everyone remembers, it’s so nice. A lot of credit is due to David Foster for playing those beautiful chords underneath me. I kind of had a backseat role in all of it, but it was pretty thrilling.
MR: For most artists, just performing the national anthem on Monday Night Football is pretty intense as it is.
CB: Yeah, and I’ve done a few of those. I did the AFC Championship and countless other regular football games for NFL, and I did World Series as well. Those are always really fun opportunities to play.
MR: Chris, you have a residency coming up at New York City’s Blue Note between December 15th and the first week of January, and not only are you playing but you’re having guests a slate of special guests join you. What’s it like to take over the Blue Note?
CB: We tour about two hundred fifty, three hundred days a year. The band is a well-oiled machine in that respect. We have a very serious outlook on gigging and performing, so for us to come to New York at that time of year, which is always special, and then to play that legendary jazz club and do forty-five shows in twenty-one nights–I think we’re doing a couple of days where we have three shows in one day–it’s a rush. And you don’t have to get on an airplane so you can walk to work. It’s fantastic. This is our tenth year, so people have come from all over the world to make December fun for them in New York. It’s taken a lot of time for us, traveling around the world, where we were in Istanbul last month or Republic Of Georgia and everyone’s like, “We’ll see you at the Blue Note in December!” You get a feeling that the word has actually spread and people will actually come to the show. It’s really a nice feeling.
Read the full interview here at huffingtonpost.com