“I think my music is sensual and romantic, but it’s not cheesy.” Chris Botti
Trumpeter Chris Botti, known as a smooth jazz musician, hit the music scene with the album Midnight Without You (1997), Night Sessions (2001), When I Fall in Love (2004), and the star-studded To Love Again (2005). He made beautiful collaborations with numerous artists, such as Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin, Michael Bublé, Paula Cole, Gladys Knight, The Blue Nile and Sting. Botti, whose trumpet sound is often compared to that of Miles Davis, was dubbed by the Washington Post as having a “savvy blend of Miles Davis’ wistful romanticism and minimalist smooth-jazz arrangements.” He is currently promoting the concert album Chris Botti Live (2006), featuring guest vocals from Sting, Paula Cole, Burt Bacharach and Gladys Knight.
One of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People of 2004” is also the radio host for the show “Chill with Chris Botti.” The radio program focuses mainly on the “smooth jazz with a touch of cool jazz.”
Yoga with Sting
Childhood and Family:
Born on October 12, 1962, in Portland, Oregon, Christopher Stephen Botti received his first musical influence from his mother, a classic pianist and part-time piano teacher. Chris later chose the trumpet as his instrument. He admitted, “I can’t really sit down and play a song on the piano; but I know harmony, and generally I compose on the piano rather than on the trumpet.”
By the time he was 17, Chris was making regular performances in Portland music spots. After studying music at Indiana University, he moved to New York and honed in on his musical skills under trumpet guru Woody Shaw.
Chris Botti is a devoted practitioner of yoga and a friend of musician Sting, who also practices yoga. He reportedly had a relationship with NBC’s “The Today Show” anchor Katie Couric. It was rumored they broke up in February 2005.
“After I came to New York, I realized I didn’t want to be a jazz musician. I love improvising, but you really need to live the bebop tradition in order to play it. That kind of music--the kind that Woody Shaw, for example, played so brilliantly--just moves a little too quickly for me. The music that really inspired me as a teenager was more like Miles Davis playing ballads with the second Quintet. You know that spacey thing, when they broke down all the chords in the song? That band playing ‘Stella By Starlight’ is something very different from, say, Bud Powell playing the same tune.”
Chris Botti, who chose to play smooth jazz, joined the band of Paul Simon’s 15-month world tour in 1990, along with New York session veterans like Randy Brecker, Richard Tee, and Steve Gadd. He also briefly tried the movie world with a minor role as a band member in Hearts of Fire (1990). It was then followed by the release of his solo albums First Wish (1995), the Midnight Without You collaboration with English group the Blue Nile, 1997) and Slowing Down The World (1999).
While making solo performances, Botti worked for the motion picture Caught (1996), where he was credited as the original score producer, musician and composer. He also performed a trumpet solo in a song composed by Oscar-winning John Barry for the ensemble romantic comedy Playing By Heart (1998).
Botti, who has worked with singer-songwriters like Marc Cohn, Joni Mitchell and Natalie Merchant, joined Sting for the Brand New Day tour, starting in 2000 and finishing two years later in Tuscany. His performance as the featured soloist was taped in the video-released Sting: The Brand New Day Tour - Live from the Universal Amphitheatre (2000) and Sting … All This Time (2001).
Amid Sting tours, Botti recorded the breakthrough contemporary jazz hit album Night Sessions (2001) and followed it up with Night Sessions – Live In Concert (2002), featuring guest appearances by Sting and Shawn Colvin. In October 2002, the musician released the holiday album December, which set off the seasonal standards “Little Drummer Boy” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” as well as the contemporary tracks “Hallelujah” and “Perfect Day.” He later became a regular on the talk show “The Caroline Rhea Show” (2003) and appeared with his trumpet in the TV special program Sting: Inside - The Songs of Sacred Love (2003).
A Thousand Kisses Deep (2003), Botti’s next album, presented his interpretation to the classics, including Miles Davis’ “My Funny Valentine.” Its success was then followed by a more traditional orchestral jazz album, When I Fall in Love (2004), which went gold and topped the jazz album charts. The next year, he performed “Song for You” in the Michael Bublé: Caught in the Act episode of the series “Great Performances” (2005), appeared as himself in “The Young and the Restless” (2005) and became a performer in The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (2005, TV).
Working with producer Bobby Colomby, Botti launched To Love Again (2005), a collection of pop jazz standards presenting nine famous guest vocalists: Sting (“What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”), Paula Cole (“My One And Only Love”), Michael Bublé (“Let There Be Love”), Jill Scott (“Good Morning Heartache”), Paul Buchanan (“Are You Lonesome Tonight?”), Gladys Knight (“Lover Man”), Renee Olstead (“Pennies From Heaven”), Rosa Passos (“Here Comes That Rainy Day”) and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith (the cover of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”). To Love Again, which also generated three instrumental tracks, quickly hit the top position on the Traditional Jazz and the Top Jazz Overall Album Sales chart.
“The roles were semi-reversed. I feel very fortunate.” Chris Botti on the guest performances for his album Chris Botti Live (2006)
The trumpeter is now promoting his concert album, Chris Botti Live (2006), from his performance on the PBS channel. It features guest vocals from Sting, Paula Cole, Burt Bacharach and Gladys Knight, all of whom have worked with him in the past.