The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest was quite the rollicking party — from George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic on Friday night through the Whispers closing things out on Sunday evening.
In between, trumpeteer Chris Botti put on one of the festival’s most amazing sets ever, elevating what it means to be a headliner at the festival. Botti ventured out into the audience a couple of times, had a singer on stage to sing Puccini and even brought a 9-year-old girl up on stage from the audience to play the drums.
Stephanie Adrian for Arts ATL
In 2008, jazz trumpeter Chris Botti produced and recorded his Grammy-nominated concert recording, Chris Botti in Boston with the Boston Pops Orchestra. The formula was foolproof, featuring duets with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Lucia Micarelli and such pop icons as Sting, John Mayer and Steven Tyler. Known as a marathon performer who takes the stage some 280 days a year, Botti and his electric band have recently launched a new tour and will see concert venues in Warsaw and Westhampton Beach, San Francisco and Seattle among countless other cities this year.
Botti arrived at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall on Friday night in an attempt to recreate the alchemy he had found years ago in Boston, yet with a different ensemble of guest artists accompanied by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Albert-George Schram.
Playing on a 1939 Martin Committee Handcraft Large Bore, Botti opened with Ennio Morricone’s theme “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission in duet with violinist Caroline Campbell. Blonde and statuesque, Campbell is not only the first violinist in the Los Angeles-based Sonus Quartet, but is also a favorite collaborator for such illustrious artists as Andrea Bocelli and Barbra Streisand.
Appearing several times throughout the concert, Campbell’s playing is broad and at times fierce; she has impeccable intonation and executed string crossings and double stops with flair, prancing around the stage while playing Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.”
For each of the last 12 years, Chris Botti has spent the holidays at the Blue Note Jazz Club, bringing his trumpet, his high-gloss production values and his ace touring band. What began as a standard booking at the club has expanded into a monthlong residency, full of surprise drop-ins and celebrity cameos.
“It’s like a big party every night,” Mr. Botti said the other day, a week into his current run. “It’s also given me a chance to stretch the band out. We do 56 shows in 28 days, and we always come out of this a much stronger unit all around.”
A jazz-pop powerhouse who keeps a grueling tour schedule — he’s on the road some 280 nights out of the year — Mr. Botti also relishes that the engagement means staying in one place for a while. He talked about his seasonal tradition, and why he won’t be playing “Sleigh Bells.” These are excerpts from the conversation.