On the Horn: Q&A with Chris Botti

Chris Botti - Perfroming at the Kravis Center on April 16

Photo by Fabrizio Ferri

While musician and songwriter Chris Botti’s fine features once landed him on People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” list, he’s not mere eye candy. The trumpeter’s artistry has led to collaborations with some of the most iconic music figures on the planet. Botti has worked with a who’s who of jazz and pop legends, from Sinatra to Sting, and his 2013 Grammy Award-winning record, Impressions, pairs his playing with vocals by Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill, Mark Knopfler and others. He’s performed in venues across the globe, from the Hollywood Bowl, to the Sydney Opera House, and now the Artis—Naples, where he’ll appear April 29. We talked with America’s largest-selling (four-million-plus albums) instrumental artist about his consuming passion.

  • Chris Botti will perform at the Artis—Naples on Wednesday, April 29. For more information, visit artisnaples.org.


NI: Does traveling for 250 to 300 shows yearly hinder writing and recording?

Botti: Touring and writing are two very different mindsets, so you don’t necessarily write when you are on the road—or you don’t write anything good on the road. What is good is your performance, your “chops” are great when you play that much. So that affects your recording positively. Writing isn’t necessarily a huge passion for me like trumpet playing is; that’s what I do every day for four or five hours a day.


How do you spend your scarce downtime?

I lived in LA the last five years, then last July I sold all of my possessions and moved into my favorite hotel in New York. When I have days off, I love hanging out in my hotel and walking around SoHo. I’m pretty much a one-trick pony. I am very focused on the trumpet.


What effect did being on the 50 Most Beautiful People list have?

Back then it gave people something to talk about on television. I think all those little pop culture things bring exposure. One of the biggest things I’ve ever done was play the national anthem at a Monday Night Football game a few months ago. I never thought it would go viral and have the impact it did. These wacky things come out of nowhere. Every day, I get up and play the trumpet, tour all over the world, but things like that come along [and make people notice]; it makes you scratch your head, in a positive way.


What’s in the works?

Our plan now is to do another live recording like Chris Botti in Boston, except somewhere else. It will be new material and new guests. The live Boston show was in such heavy rotation on PBS, we picked up many fans. A lot of people don’t really know what my show is. Yes, they know I play the trumpet, but they think it’s going to be a duplication of an album, and it isn’t that. When we come to Naples, we’ll have two singers and a classical violinist, and they are all on a super-high level of artistry.


You look so moody on your album covers. Why so pensive?

When I do a photo shoot I always end up that way, but it’s not really the way I am. I think jazz, the music, isn’t necessarily, “Hey, let’s all party.” Yet when we do our show there’s a lot of humor in it, and fun. There’s a disconnect. The record is made for listening in your house in solitude, whereas the concerts are meant for getting the audience going.

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