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.”
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