Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

There’s a whole lot of trumpet blowing with Chris Botti in town

Posted by Kimberly on June 3, 2008

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
June 3, 2008 (676 words)

Chris Botti would rather not consider himself as elevator music. At least, that’s the impression the Portland-born jazz trumpeter gave at an interview yesterday.
“If you’re an instrumentalist, you’re linked back to Kenny G and it’s like ‘ooh’,” he says. Not that there’s anything wrong with Kenny G, adds Botti. After all, the former has managed to create a sound that is instantly recognisable to those familiar with his work, which Botti says he’s achieved as well, to some degree.
“A lot of people think I play the saxophone because we both stand there and blow into an instrument.
“Being asked to get onto TV shows has catapulted us both, but our music is very different,” Botti adds.
Enough about Kenny G. Botti’s last appearance in Asia will be occurring tonight, in the Grand Auditorium of the Macau Cultural Centre, after a tour that has encompassed Singapore, Korea, Japan and Beijing to name a few.
After which, comes the US cities; Washington DC, Nashville and New York. It’s a scenario that’s been played for so long now, that hardly a free moment exists for writing new material, with only two songs from his latest album Italia being written, or co-written, by Botti.
That’s not to say that Italia hasn’t done the best of all his records, says Botti, who’s touring schedule extends all the way till July 2009, having begun some four years prior.
Yet he’s quick to point out that, when it comes to jazz, it’s not so much about originality, but about stage presence.
“I haven’t been concerned about writing music. If you look at Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble, they interpret other people.
“It’s their live shows that resonate,” he adds.
It’s Botti’s own live shows that he feels has allowed his popularity to sky-rocket, having begun as an artist performing to 150 people and ending up in front of around 8,000 these days.
“I think that If you intend to be an artist over a long term, you need to have two things: a dynamic live show and a record that sells millions.”
Botti adds that it’s those artists who come on stage and attempt to duplicate their album, that end up failing.
He offers an analogy.
“It’s a case of a record being the book that people read and the gig being like having dinner with the author. The record has to be the entree.”
Of course, having the seal of approval from the likes of Sting certainly hasn’t hurt, and Botti is all too eager to acknowledge his good fortune in having performed under Sting during his two-year ‘Brand New Day’ tours.
“He asked me to join his band [in 1999, after Botti had already released four solo albums] after suggesting I leave my solo career for two year, and he guaranteed that many more fans would check out my music than had ever done.”
Subsequently Botti was “fired” from Sting’s band and promoted to becoming the opening act, and the rest is history, as they say.
Speaking of which, despite Botti’s mother being a piano teacher, and consequently attempting to make a pianist out of him at the age of six, there is no particular musical tendency running in the family.
It is this, he feels, that provided him with “an inner desire and ability to be motivated.
“I know many children from families with musical backgrounds that fail terribly because of a lack of motivation,” says Botti.
Yet he’s also well aware that, the trumpet being the difficult instrument it is, cannot be sustained over as long as period as vocal abilities.
“It’s so much based on your physical shape.
“For me, it happened so much later in life and I’m aware of my good fortune,” he adds.
Just as he’s aware that, without his fans, his desire to play the trumpet diminishes.
“You don’t get into this thing to just play music for yourself…it’s about trying to reach an audience,” says Botti, adding, “anyone that says they don’t care are not being honest with you.”

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