One of my students had tickets for the Chris Botti concert in Galveston over the weekend that he couldn’t attend, so he asked me if I wanted to go (thanks John). I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the concert. Not that I ever considered Botti a bad player. Not at all. But I was expecting the concert to be more like his recordings. And once again, not that the recordings are bad either, but I didn’t think that kind of commercial schmaltz would make for a very entertaining concert.
As it turned out, the band really let their hair down for the live performance. Lots of interesting and also very exciting solos by all the members of the band, including Botti himself. It just goes to show you that you cannot typecast a musician according to their most popular hits.
My impression of Chris Botti’s playing, now that I have seen him live, is that he has a deep emotional investment in the lyrical side of the instrument. His melodies, whether on the heads or in his solos, are so gorgeous and heart felt that you cannot help but to be touched by his performance.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t get this same feeling of intimacy from his CDs. Yes, the recordings are also beautiful, but in an entirely different manner. But I think those types of recordings are supposed to be that way. The glitz and glitter that goes into such grand productions distracts the listener from the more earthy qualities of the musicianship.
Another nice thing about the concert is that Botti practice the old style of band leadership which says, “Hire musicians who are better than you.” This has always been a winning business strategy, right? It works just as well with band leaders. Botti has hired a band of top notch, well respected musicians, including Billie Childs and Robert Hurst. It was my first time to hear Billie Childs live. What a wonderful treat!
It was an enjoyable concert that appealed to just about everyone in the audience. Real jazzers could enjoy the great jazz playing and casual listeners could soak up Botti’s beautiful sound. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised.