I recently caught Chris Botti “Live” on a PBS fundraiser special, with guest star Sting and others. Damn good stuff.
Kenny G, Michael Bolton, Najee, Dave Koz, etc have rightly been slammed as music lightweights, but Botti is the real McDeal. He’s gifted at improvisation, has excellent range and rhythm, understands minimalism and coloring, is a serious student of jazz, and isn’t sacchrine but still paints beautiful moods with that trumpet. When muted, Botti’s music is just incredibly evocative.
I’m certainly not comparing him to the timeless chameleon Miles Davis, but Botti’s “chill” music certainly gets respect in my book and has nothing in common with Kenny G’s predictable “elevator pop.”
I’m not sure what Wynford Marsalis thinks of Botti, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter fare very well in a jazz “shootout,” ala Buddy Rich and Max Roach. Besides, Botti isn’t a total smarm, his association with Katie Couric notwithstanding.
Are we talking Louis Armstrong jazz? Chicago jazz? Glenn Miller jazz? Count Basie jazz? Bop jazz? Early (post-bop), mid (modal) or late (fusion) Miles jazz? Stockholm jazz? Tokyo or Polish jazz? Contrane’s “sheets of music” jazz? Sun Ra jazz? Acid jazz? Funky jazz? East or West coast jazz? “Third-stream jazz”? Cool jazz? Jazz noir? “Avante-garde jazz”? Crossover jazz?