Thursday, September 8, 2011
Chris Botti is an alum of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. But he’s much more than just a pretty face: The contemporary jazz trumpeter has not only received five Grammy nods, three of his albums have made it to number 1 on the Billboard jazz albums chart. He’s also recorded on two of the most prominent jazz labels, Verve and Columbia. The jazz musician’s skills prompted the Sunset Center to invite him to perform both tonight and Friday, to kick off their jam-packed 2011-2012 season.
The story behind Botti’s debut Night Sessions presents proof that the guy has a jazz mentality that could be considered as much obsession as genius: As he explains in the album’s liner notes, after two years straight on the road, he took 10 weeks to write and record the album in a rented house in the Hollywood Hills while the rest of the city slept.
“We sensed freedom after dark—the phone was quieter and there were less distractions as the light of the L.A. Basin began to glow,” he writes. “We recorded only after the sun had set, often until it rose the next morning.”
The third track, “Streets Ahead,” encapsulates those late night fits of creativity. It begins with Weather Report-style funk—highlighted by a prominent bass line and heavy percussion—before smoothly drifting into Botti’s lead on the trumpet, which he utilizes like a lead guitar. Then, everything becomes very quiet, as if 3am has descended. But it all comes back to the beginning energy again, almost like a rising sun.
Though his dominion is pure jazz, Botti doesn’t have a strong preference when it comes to his listening tastes. He just likes good music.
“I am a jazz musician who likes music,” he told jazz writer Bonnie Schendell, “whether it is jazz music, classical music or chill music.”
A peek at Sunset season ahead
- To many, Kevin Bacon will always be known as the feisty Chicago teen Ren McCormack in Footloose or the muscleman hero in Tremors, but the Philly-native can also play music. The Bacon Brothers (Sept. 29)—Kevin and his brother Michael—have been touring on and off as a folk band since 1995.
- It’s kind of hard to define Howie Mandel (Oct. 20), but one thing is certain, the Canadian is always goofy. One of his early standup shticks involved blowing up a latex glove. That was it.
- The 2010 Kalichstein-Lardeo-Robinson International Trio Award winning Morgenstern Piano Trio (Nov. 11) have become the toast of the chamber music world.
- Last year, Bela Fleck visited the Sunset Center with Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussain for a stellar show. This year, the master banjoist returns with The Flecktones (March 6), whose largely improvised jazz jams usually has the audience craving more—and wondering how they do it.
- One of the top living blues musicians, Taj Majal, will also be returning to the area (April 12) with his trio and delving into sounds from all over the world. The South Carolina native figured out early on how to meld the music of New Orleans with influences from Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.
Chris Botti performs at 8pm Thursday, Sept. 8, and Friday, Sept. 9, at Sunset Center, San Carlos at Ninth, Carmel. $69; $86; $99. 620-2048.