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.
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