Chris Botti

Chris Botti Biography

"To me, music that breaks your heart is the music that stays with you forever," muses the best-selling jazz artist Chris Botti when talking about his new album, Italia. "It's one thing to be melancholy and one thing to be sophisticated, but when you get the two of them together in a way people can relate to, then I think you're on to something You want the sophistication to lie in the purity of the sound, the beauty of the arrangements, and the quality of the performances."

With Italia, Botti has created a suite of songs and music inspired by the romance of Italy, each track conveying different aspects of that romance while the album flows with an overall conceptual integrity. Allowing his "love of slow moving orchestral pieces" to work through the album's arrangements, song choices, tone and melodic phrasing, Botti and his musicians have succeeded in conjuring an album of evocative atmospherics linking the worlds of jazz and pop and classical music.

Italia comes from a place Botti calls "the other kind of jazz," the muse-grid that inspired conceptually coherent works like Miles Davis' "Sketches of Spain" and "Kind Of Blue." " They had an unbelievable amount of restraint put into the architecture," says Botti of those recordings. " There's not a lot of improvising on Italia, it's about the concept, the phrasing and how it's recorded. There's a lot of high wire act, almost classical trumpet playing on the album."

The songs on Italia are drawn from sources ranging from classical opera to the soundtracks of Ennio Morricone. Recorded in the United States, England, and Italy, Italia is a brilliant showcase for Botti's musical versatility as performer, composer and collaborator. The album includes the newly-composed title track featuring the passionate vocals of renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli as well as a new interpretation of "The Very Thought of You" with guest vocalist Paula Cole. "

In another of the album's duets, Botti and his ensemble accompany a vocal performance originally recorded in 1957 by the " forever cool" Dean Martin on "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face," a song first written for "My Fair Lady. " "We recorded it in the same room he recorded it in with the same gear at Capitol Studios," Chris explains. "It sounds like we were all there in the same room. I'm very pleased with that track."

The album includes Botti's interpretation of "Ave Maria," a tune he often uses to open his concerts. " It works so beautifully," he says, "that I wanted to include it on my Italia record. For me, the way to break up my solos on the trumpet is to have a voice every once in a while, whether it's Dean Martin or Andrea Bocelli or Paula Cole. The entrance of the 60 piece choir coming in on 'Ave Maria' is such a beautiful departure. "

On Italia, Botti re-imagines two beloved compositions -- "Deborah's Theme" (from "Once Upon A Time In America") and "Gabriel's Oboe" (from "The Mission") -- by the venerated Italian composer Ennio Morricone, recent recipient of an Honorary Academy Award® "for his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music."

Among the many treasures of Italia, Chris Botti creates a breathtaking new rendition of " Nessun Dorma" ("Let no one sleep") from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot." The song entered popular consciousness in 1990, when it was adopted as the official theme of the Italia '90 World Cup.

"The real force on the album," Botti offers, "is 'Deborah's Theme,' 'The Mission,' 'It Never Entered My Mind,' 'Italia,' 'Nessun Dorma,' where the style of trumpet playing has more classical elements than a jazz musician in a club. We try to make every song have a different feel to it but the overall record has a flavor, a thread. I believe the challenge is to make a record that's individual, finds an audience, and creates something that's meaningful to the listener."

Trumpeter Chris Botti is a gifted instrumentalist, a talented composer, and a charismatic performer who--since the release of his first solo album in 1995--has created a series of recordings which have made him a virtual genre-of-one in the realm of contemporary jazz while at the same time capturing the attention of the pop music world. Through his singular combination of lush atmos¬pheres and thoughtful improvisations, Botti has earned both critical acclaim and mainstream appreciation for a succession of best-selling albums including When I Fall In Love (2004, #1 Top Jazz Album, #37 Billboard Top 200), To Love Again: The Duets (2005, #1 Top Jazz Album, #18 Billboard Top 200), and Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests (2006, #2 Top Jazz Album).

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."

He pursued his music studies with a succession of outstanding teachers including Professor Bill Adam and Dave Baker in Indiana, and--following a move to New York City in 1986--the late trumpet master Woody Shaw.

"My music is more reined-in, because it's in a pop format. But this atmospheric quality is what I really loved about jazz, and on my earlier CD's I've tried to marry that feel to the textures and melodies you might hear on a record by Peter Gabriel or Bryan Ferry."

In the studio and on stage, Chris Botti has worked with such leading singer-songwriter/composers as Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Sting and renowned film composer John Barry, among others; as a sideman, he has appeared on dozens of albums, compilations and soundtracks. Botti's association with Sting--who joins Botti on both To Love Again and When I Fall In Love--dates back to 1999, when the trumpeter joined the pop legend's band as featured soloist on the "Brand New Day" tour, which lasted two years.

"What is unique about him is that he has jazz chops and he comes from the world of jazz," Sting has said of Chris Botti. "He also has a very refined pop sensibility. He looks great and he presents himself well. He works hard, and you know, you see a star a mile off. So he was in my band for four years. He took the light. I'm very happy when people in my band take the spotlight and say, "Let me run with this ball," because I'll just stand back and I'll look good."

In addition to receiving an RIAA gold-certification for When I Fall in Love in 2004 and To Love Again (both produced by Bobby Colomby) in 2005, "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" (with vocals by Sting) earned a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. Since then, Chris Botti has toured constantly, stopping only to tape his own PBS Special and DVD in Los Angeles in December of 2005.

Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests, shot December 1 and 2, 2005, over a Thursday - Friday run at LA's fabled Wilshire Theatre, inspired the Los Angeles Times music critic Don Heckman to write, "It was apparent, from the first notes Chris Botti played at the Wilshire Theatre on Friday, that the sold-out house was in for a special evening...Botti's latest album, 'To Love Again' -- as well as the previously released 'When I Fall In Love' -- features extraordinary lineups of vocal guest artists. Six showed up for the concert -- Sting, Jill Scott, Paula Cole, Renee Olstead, Paul Buchanan and Gladys Knight -- along with Burt Bacharach...despite the inevitable audience excitement generated by the appearance of such vocal headliners and despite the artists' diversity of interpretations, it was Botti's virtuosic trumpet work, his inventive melody-making, his engaging onstage presence and his powerful band ...that ruled the evening..."

Chris Botti All Music Guide Biography

Though best known as a contemporary jazz performer, trumpeter Chris Botti made his initial splash on the pop music scene. A native of Oregon, he started playing at the age of ten, and began performing professionally while still in high school. After studying in the prestigious Indiana University music program under noted jazz educator David Baker, Botti relocated to New York, where he served with saxophonist George Coleman and trumpet great Woody Shaw. In 1990, Botti was asked to join Paul Simon's band, where he remained for the next five years. Finally, in 1995, he recorded his solo debut, First Wish, a record combining the sounds of contemporary pop-jazz with the textures of art rock. After scoring the 1996 film Caught, Botti resurfaced in 1997 with his second LP, Midnight Without You, which was followed by Slowing Down the World in 1999. Two years later, he was a featured soloist on Sting's Brand New Day world tour, and that time allowed Botti to rediscover old musical passions and create new ones. Recorded in Los Angeles, 2001's Night Sessions captured such jazzy pop. That muse was explored further in 2003 with A Thousand Kisses Deep, and to a lesser extent on the more traditional orchestral jazz of 2004's When I Fall in Love. That record was his first Top 40 entry, and it was followed by the number 18 hit To Love Again: The Duets in 2005. Another Top 40 placement, Italia, followed in 2007, with the live album Chris Botti in Boston following in 2009. In 2012, Botti returned with the studio album Impressions. Focusing on his love of melody, Impressions features Botti collaborating with such artists as jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, guitarist Mark Knopfler, country singer Vince Gill, composer/pianist/producer David Foster, and more. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi


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