31 Mar 2014

Q & A with Chris Botti

Chris Botti has been playing the trumpet since he was twelve years old. And in my humble opinion, he has taken the trumpet and transformed it into more than what people normally think of. He doesn’t limit himself to jazz or pop or classical. He blends all three into rich, sweet sounds and pure, clear tones that at times sound almost like a piano or a saxophone. It so difficult for me to describe how beautiful his music is, so to save myself the effort and for your own enjoyment, you must, must, must go see his special concert on April 2 at Abravanel Hall. If you love the trumpet, you must go. If you never thought of the emotion love being applicable to the trumpet, you must go.
At this show, Chris will be playing with a small band that includes a guitar, piano, drums, and violin. There will also be two vocalists that will add to the performance. Chris was happy to answer some questions for us about his playing, composing and performing.
For you, what is different about playing solo verses playing with a small band verses playing with a symphony? Do you prefer one over the other?
I love doing shows with just my band, without the symphony, but every time we play with an orchestra, I just come back and think there just isn’t anything like it. The texture of standing there and playing in front of an orchestra is the greatest feeling ever. Because you get this three dimensional quality and you know, it’s very sophisticated and we really have put a lot of effort into hiring the best arrangers and having kind of a real romantic-ish night of music. It’s my favorite.
I read in your biography that Miles Davis inspired you to focus on the trumpet. Are there other key figures or moments that have happened in your life that continue to inspire you and your music?
I certainly owe Sting most of my career for giving me my big breaks. The greatest thing I learned from him was finding passion in routine: getting up, practicing, doing yoga, traveling with the band. In many ways, I have patterned my career after what I learned being around Sting for those two or three years on the Brand New Day Tour. He’s always been the biggest supporter and the best friend. He’s like my big brother, really.
What is the difference between playing a song like “Over the Rainbow” and playing a song that you composed yourself?
I enjoy composing, but I also think that when you’re making a record, especially a primarily instrumental record, a lot of the success or failure of the record hinges on picking great songs. You look at a beautiful tango like “Oblivion”, I mean no offense to my own talents, but I’m probably not going to write something that emotionally beautiful and unique. That would go with any of the songs I’ve covered which have been big hits for me like “Emmanuel” or “Time To Say Goodbye”. I think artists sometimes make the mistake of thinking they can do everything. First and foremost, I’m a trumpet player. Secondly, I’m a bandleader and then a composer third. I just want the best songs on my album regardless of who wrote them.
Always a difficult question, but what is your favorite song to play?
That is a difficult question. It actually changes night to night depending on how I and the band are feeling.
Do you play any other instruments, or do you have an interest in learning any other instruments?
I write and play a little bit of the piano; however, I would not consider myself a pianist by any stretch of the imagination. The trumpet takes too much practice and you’ll find that most great trumpet players only play one instrument.
Chris is truly a master of his craft. If you can’t make it to this show in Salt Lake City, but find yourself in Pocatello, ID on April 1 or Beaver Creek, CO on April 3, go to his show then. ~Traci Grant
For more information on Chris Botti, you can visit his website http://www.chrisbotti.com/us/home
For more information about the concert, you can visit www.utahsymphony.org
*Please note, the Utah Symphony does not play in this concert.