Its been over one month since my last blog post, and its not been for a lack of ideas, but a lack of time to write. In the past month I’ve had the privilege of witnessing several awesome musicians perform and have been itching to do some reviews.
This review is of Chris Botti, one of the most high-profile jazz musicians on the world stage today. “Discovered” by Oprah Winfrey several years back, Chris Botti has spent several years before as Sting’s main trumpeter, and has since produced countless albums focussed on recording mainstream jazz albums emulating the Miles Davis – Chet Baker tradition. For his efforts, he has picked up a Grammy as well as his pianist, Billy Childs, who has two Grammies under his belt. Working with such stars as Sting and Pavarotti, among others, Chris Botti’s albums consistently make it to the top of the jazz sales charts.
Many jazz fans who prefer contemporary jazz that picks up where the avant garde and fusion left off, may scoff at Chris Botti’s music, labeling it as ‘mainstream’ and ‘smooth jazz’. I must admit I fell into that category. I would only throw on a Chris Botti album if I were entertaining guests and needed something more palpable for background music.
Yet after spending time with him during his intimate press conference in Beijing, as well as attending his concert, I can say that I was thoroughly pleased and impressed by his level of professionalism and showmanship. When Botti said in his press conference that he tries to make his shows a rollercoaster for his listeners, I was skeptical. But his concert was absolutely entertaining, and truly was filled with wonderful dynamics of up-beat and slow-smooth pieces. Chris Botti himself attested his band management style and choice of concert songs to his friend and mentor, Sting. He chose to mix it up with pop pieces and his own composition, giving every kind of listener a little bit of heaven.
So now I have a renewed respect and admiration for Chris Botti. And even while his music, while nice, doesn’t rock my world, I believe he has found the secret to what it takes to become a successful jazz musician in a non-jazz world. He is an image marketing machine, that uses intoxicating pop tunes to lure new listeners to the world of Jazz, and hopefully capture a whole new generation who can propell the Jazz world forward.
For a country like China which is in desperate need of more sophisticated, intellectual world music, Chris Botti was a real treat and certainly won scores of new patrons to Jazz.
Speaking for all jazz enthusiasts who care about the future of Jazz in China, Chris Botti, I thank you.