Botti comes back
Paul Hyde, [email protected] 9:13 p.m. EDT July 21, 2015
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Chris Botti doesn’t like to be tied down to just one style of music.
Anyone attending Botti’s Aug. 1 Peace Center concert can expect to hear jazz, R&B, blues, rock and even a little classical music.
Botti, who’s visited Greenville several times through the years, shuns musical predictability. He likes to keep audiences guessing.
Since the release of his 2004 critically acclaimed CD, “When I Fall In Love,” Botti has become the largest-selling American instrumental artist. His ongoing association with PBS has contributed to four No. 1 jazz albums.
Botti, 52, is equally known for his frequent collaborations with other artists. Over the past three decades, Botti has recorded and appeared with Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé and Paul Simon, among many others.
He has also performed with acclaimed orchestras and at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, from Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.
Botti’s latest album, “Impressions,” won a 2012 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
The Greenville News recently caught up with Botti via email as he was touring with his band in Japan. Botti reflected on music, yoga, relentless touring, the challenges of a show biz career and the joys of getting lost in a big city.
The Greenville News: What sort of material can we look forward to at your Peace Center concert?
Chris Botti: We will be playing lots of different selections from “Chris Botti In Boston” and “Italia” to my older records as well as new material from “Impressions.” More importantly, you’re going to see one of the best bands working in any genre of music today so you should expect to have a great time and hear a variety of sounds from jazz to classical music and rock.
It’s funny, I have really good friends of mine who have never seen my show and I’ll be playing in their area and I’ll invite them to come. The day of, they’ll finally get up enough courage to ask me, “So, is it just you like, with a trumpet?” I literally feel that my career has been about winning over one person at a time — kind of like hand-to-hand combat. One audience at a time, one individual at a time, because once they see it, they get the whole scope of it. They come up and tell me, “Oh my gosh, I cried during the show,” or “I’ve never seen musicianship like that before,” or “That was really funny and the guitar player is crazy,” or that they really had so much fun and just thoroughly enjoyed the show.
People don’t know what to expect from a trumpet player and so it makes the uphill battle so much steeper. This is one of the reasons I tour so relentlessly. I have a chip on my shoulder about it and then of course, once you get up there, you want to stay there!
Greenville News: Tell us about your band and vocalists.
Botti: I have a full band — guitar, drums, bass, piano and keyboards — along with a few special guests. We’ll have the amazing Sy Smith and George Komsky performing vocals as well as the incredible Lucia Micarelli on violin. Both Sy and Lucia were featured on my “Chris Botti In Boston” PBS special, so some fans may be familiar with them already.
Greenville News: You’re known as one of the hardest-working musicians on the road. Tell us about your passion for touring.
Botti: We’re on the road 250 days a year and I obsess about my show all day long because I want it to be musically entertaining and also musically “high end” for the fans. It’s incredibly important to me that we relate to them, that we’re open to them and that we accept them and are appreciative that they’re there. It’s not lost on me at all that we have fans who buy tickets, take a night off and come to the show. It means so much. I really don’t have a life outside of my music. I mean it sounds crazy to say but it’s really sort of the truth. And I go speak to young people all the time, and say, “If you’re really sure you want to be a touring musician, then you have to really love it and that means you may not be able to have a dog and a plant and a cat, and, you know, relationships can be very difficult, but the upside is so fantastic.” And I have found myself in the last 10 years being just in this constant orbit and I’m fine with it.
Greenville News: Can you give us some recent highlights of your career?
Botti: I just finished performing two nights with the Sydney Symphony at the iconic Sydney Opera House. That’s always an amazing experience for sure and we always have such a great time every time we’re in Australia. Releasing “Impressions” was also a big highlight. I’m very proud of the album and I think that the overall texture to the album is something I’ve always tried to do. We tried to basically do 13 different “impressions” of a ballad and to get the listener to stay in that same mode and not knock them around with a swing tune or a big over-the-top number. You want to take the listener on a journey but also keep them in that same mood and I think we were successful at doing that.
Greenville News: When you get a chance to take some time off, how do you like to spend it?
Botti: Every day I practice. My practice regiment is the same as it has been for the past 25 years. I do the same routine that I learned from my trumpet teacher, William Adam, who I studied with in college. It’s very disciplined with long tones, arpeggios, chromatic scales, classical exercises, etc., to make sure that I’m flexible and that the apparatus is working on the trumpet. Then the jazz aspects take over in more of a fluid and elusive way, but the core of the trumpet technicalities need to be tended to daily and this is what I do every day. I also practice yoga daily and I enjoy walking in major cities. I like to just leave the hotel and get lost in a city, walking and exploring, and somehow getting back to the hotel.
For the latest in local arts news and reviews, follow Paul Hyde on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
YOU CAN GO
What: Chris Botti
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1
Where: Peace Center Concert Hall
Tickets: $45 to $65
Information: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org