Born Christopher Botti in 1962 in Portland, OR. Education: Graduated from Indiana University. Addresses: Record company--The Verve Music Group, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019. Website--Chris Botti Official Website: http://www.chrisbotti.com.
Trumpeter Chris Botti has toured with pop stars such as Paul Simon and Sting, and worked as a session musician on the albums of many others, including Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin. With a successful recording career of his own, Botti had released four solo albums by 2001, and composed and produced music for feature films, including Caught and Playing by Heart.
Christopher Botti was born in 1962 in Portland, Oregon. He began playing music at the age of 10 and made his professional debut before graduating from high school. He attended Indiana University's music program, where he was taught by renowned jazz instructor David Baker. After graduation, Botti moved to New York City, where he played with saxophone player George Coleman and master trumpeter Woody Shaw and launched a successful career as a session musician, playing on recordings by pop greats Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and others.
Botti began a five-year stint with Paul Simon's band in 1990, and also began to produce other musicians' work. One of his tracks appeared on a 1994 album by the Brecker Brothers that went on to win a Grammy Award. Botti left Paul Simon's band in 1995 to record his own album, First Wish, released by Verve. His sound on this recording, as on future albums, was a blend of jazz and pop, with rock influences. During this same period, Botti wrote the musical score for the feature film Caught, which was released in 1996.
Botti released his second solo album, Midnight Without You, in 1997, and followed it with Slowing Down the World in 1999, an album inspired by Botti's practice of yoga. In a biography published on the Verve record label's website, Botti said, "This record is the product of the marriage of my yoga study and my music. It's slightly more meditative and more organic than what I've done before."
Botti continued to play trumpet on other musicians' recordings, including Natalie Merchant. He toured with Joni Mitchell and an experimental rock band called Upper Extremities, and was a featured trumpet soloist in the film score for Playing by Heart. He even found time to do a little acting, appearing as a day player on the soap opera One Life to Life. By 2001 Botti was playing with Sting's band as a featured soloist on the Brand New Day world tour. "My role with Sting," Botti told Jazz Review online, "being a soloist with him, really put my trumpet playing in good condition; the interaction between us made me very confident and put me at the top of my game...."
During that same year, while on break from touring with Sting, Botti released his fourth album, Night Sessions, a recording that marked a turning point in his development as an artist. Asked to describe how it differed from his other recordings, he told Jazz Review online, "it's much more mature, I think. The thing that's different about this CD from my other CDs, as well as other jazz CDs, is if you remove the trumpet, no one is asking, 'Where's the trumpet?' It stands on its own musically, and it uses the trumpet as a voice to the point where you would think it's more of a singer's record." Recorded in a house overlooking Los Angeles, Night Sessions was strongly inspired by the vista of the city at night. "The whole record became this soundtrack for this house," Botti said in an interview on the ContemporaryJazz.com website.
Botti cited Sting as one of his prime influences in the album's creation. "Night Sessions--the maturity of it," he said on Sting's official website, "has a lot to do with being with Sting. On this album, I tried to do different things. I tried to borrow from Sting that it is possible to take the listener on a journey." Night Sessions was cowritten and produced by fellow Sting band member Kipper, who described the process of collaborating on each piece on Sting's website. "We were working on all of them simultaneously. We didn't have too much time. So I didn't want to get too bogged down perfecting something. By the end of the third week, we had visited each track several times."
Because Botti and Kipper's time between tours with Sting was limited, the album was written and recorded in just ten weeks. "We allotted one month to write the material and six weeks to record it and mix it," Botti told ContemporaryJazz.com. The tight deadline forced Botti and Kipper to be freer in their work. "When you have a gun to your head, when you really need to finish by a certain date it activates something in you. More like an improviser."
Botti also counts legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis among his musical influences. As he told Jazz Review online, "I admire the fact that Miles knew he couldn't be a great be-bopper, but that didn't matter because he focused on making great records around this incredible tone of his. I know the same thing, that I am not a be-bopper, and don't want to play fast over a lot of changes, even though I probably can."
To strike a balance between his session work, his tours with Sting and others, and his own solo work, Botti remains strongly focused on playing "texturally," and does not allow himself to be distracted by experiments with other playing styles. "My greatest weapon," he told Jazz Review, "will always be to understand what it is that I do." His major emphasis, he continued, is to create a distinctive voice for his trumpet that is all his own, and that will be instantly recognizable. "The trumpet," he said, "is a very nasal instrument, and I want to soften it in a way where I can sing to people through it. Miles did it to me, and I want to do it to the listener."
Asked what advice he had for up-and-coming musicians, Botti advised them in Jazz Review "to be original, to do their own thing," and stressed the importance of remaining true to one's vision, no matter what others might say. "Years ago," he recalled, "when I would tell people what I'm shooting for, they were like, 'Oh, you're dreaming.' [But w]hen you think of something long enough it becomes reality."
by Michael Belfiore
Chris Botti's Career
Began playing music at age ten; first played professionally while still in high school; moved to New York City after graduating from college, played with saxophonist George Coleman and renowned trumpeter Woody Shaw; worked as a session musician on recordings by Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and other pop stars; joined Paul Simon's band, 1990; recorded first solo album, First Wish; left Paul Simon's band, 1995; produced a track on Grammy Award-winning album by the Becker Brothers, 1994; composed musical score for the feature film Caught, 1996; released second solo album, Midnight Without You, 1997; released Slowing Down the World, 1999; toured with Sting; released fourth solo album, Night Sessions, 2001.
- Selected discography
- First Wish , Verve/Forecast, 1995.
- Caught , Polygram, 1996.
- Midnight Without You , Verve/Forecast, 1997.
- Slowing Down the World , GRP, 1999.
- Night Sessions , Sony, 2001.
- Very Best of Chris Botti , Verve, 2002.
September 30, 2003: Botti's album, Thousand Kisses Deep, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_4/jazz.jsp, October 2, 2003.
- Billboard, June 5, 1999, p. 73.
- Hollywood Reporter, December 5, 2001, p. 8(2).
- "Caught," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (August 29, 2002).
- "Chris Botti," All Movie Guide, http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=BP201272 (August 29, 2002).
- "Chris Botti," Verve Music Group, http://www.vervemusicgroup.com/verve/artist.asp?aid=2911 (September 5, 2002).
- "Chris Botti: Freedom After Dark," Jazz Review, http://www.jazzreview.com/articledetails.cfm?ID=177 (August 29, 2002).
- "Chris Botti Interview," ContemporaryJazz.com, http://www.contemporaryjazz.com/interviews/ChrisBotti.html (August 29, 2002).
- "Night Sessions," Sting Official Website, http://www.sting.com/newspress/interviews/chriskip.html (September 5, 2002).