Chris Botti brings the Valentine spirit to Midland - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Chris Botti brings the Valentine spirit to Midland

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(02/07/14) - Valentine's Day has a uniquely deep meaning for Grammy winning trumpeter Chris Botti.

"Obviously, with "My Funny Valentine" and the specialness that jazz has in that song," Botti said over the phone from California earlier this week. "That's the song that made me want to become a jazz musician. I think about that version that Miles (Davis) played every time Valentine's Day comes up."

The spirit of the holiday will be in the air Wednesday as Botti takes the stage at the Midland Center For The Arts as part of the Matrix:Midland concert series. This will be Botti's third appearance at Matrix:Midland over the past decade, something he relishes.

"The way that you relate to an audience and how quickly you're asked to return to that venue, like yours, is really the benchmark that you gauge everything by. I'm on the road 300 days a year, so for me, the opportunity to walk onstage anywhere is just fantastic. And to come back three times is obviously saying something, that we love playing there."

The audiences have shown that the feeling is mutual. While his critically acclaimed albums have made him the highest selling American instrumental artist of the past 10 years, his live performances are still what keeps him going.

"My shows have been the strong focus. And it's been the variety of music, the way it moves from classical to jazz to popular music all in one show, that's been really my calling card."

But the variety also poses a challenge to Botti, who says reigning all those different styles into a cohesive show can be tricky.

"It's really like, how do you say, pacing. It's taking a listener from something serious into something joyful into something humorous into something rocking out at the end. You gotta take them on a ride that has meaning to it. And therein lies the rub, you try to figure it out. Then you have all the weapons that you can use and thankfully it always works out."

And helping guide Botti through his vast array of musical styles is his talented band, which includes Caroline Campbell on violin, pianist Geoffrey Keezer, Leonardo Amuedo on guitar, Andy Ezrin on keyboards, bassist Richie Goods and drummer Billy Kilson.

"It's a very unique situation. They're all world class musicians, it's not like, oh they're my band. They're all superstars. Geoffrey Keezer is perhaps one of the finest piano players in the world. So we have an all-star big band and they just happen to be playing the music that I am well known for."

Though being the leader of such an accomplished band could be intimidating, Botti says instead he takes advantage of the opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the world.

"No pressure. when you're playing with that caliber of musicians it's a breeze. You just get on a magic carpet sort of and just go for it."

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