Blowing horn every day
What do you do with yourself after you sell out Carnegie Hall and play alongside Sting and Paul Simon? Keep on goin’. Trumpet player Chris Botti has fulfilled all three scenarios, and slowing down is not on his horizon.He is one of the most prolific jazz musicians around today, composing and playing his own material as well as the classics. He has played with some of the biggest names in jazz, past and present, and his albums are consistent best-sellers on the jazz charts. Botti and his band play Friday at the Vilar Center at 7:30, but he took some time beforehand to check in with the Vail Daily. Here’s his story:Vail Daily: At what age did you start playing the trumpet?Botti: Nine, and by the time I was 11 or 12, I was already pretty good.
VD: How did the trumpet become your instrument of choice?Botti: My mother was a piano teacher and got me to play the piano. I rebelled against that. Even at a young age, I new I was going to be a trumpet player.VD: How would you describe your style of playing?Botti: Well you know, I really just focus on trying to surround myself with the best musicians possible, I try to let it be very melodic when I play live.VD: What do you love most about jazz?
Botti: I’m very, very fortunate. I’ve worked very hard in the last 10 or 12 years to be at this position in my career to be able to tour with this incredible band that I have touring with me. Being a musician, it takes so much more energy to pierce the balloon – the consciousness of the American public as a jazz musician – because people don’t really tune into jazz at all, but once you get them, then you’re not fighting the latest pop-star of the day, then there’s not a lot of competition, and that’s the one good thing. The road and the ascent is so much longer and harder, but once you get there, it feels so much more gratifying in a way.VD: What is the coolest venue or crowd you have played to?Botti: Some of my most memorable and fondest memories of playing in front of an audience were with my band at the Blue Note club in New York, or when I did my DVD at the Wilshire Theater in Las Angeles. It’s more the event and kind of music that happens than necessarily saying, “We sold out Carnegie Hall.” You just don’t know when the lightning is going to strike, because someone else in the band could trigger it, and it’s still a team effort when you come out on stage. Someone can have a great night that can trigger everyone to play great, and all of a sudden, the audience gets into it and you’re having a blast. And other nights it’s really hard work, and the trumpet is not a very forgiving instrument, so it can be tough.VD: Who are your most prominent musical influences?Botti: My favorite is certainly Miles Davis by a long shot. And I think he was and will always be the greatest jazz musician of all time.
VD: Is there anybody else that has influenced your style besides Davis?Botti: I like all the usual suspects, from Sinatra to Chet Baker to Wayne Chorter or John Coltrane, or the current-day stuff, like Sting and Peter Gabriel. I like lots of different types of music, but I pretty much focus most of my time listening to jazz.VD: Who would you like to work with that you have not already?Botti: Uh, that’s a tough one you know, I think maybe Peter Gabriel would be really, really fun, and I enjoy the sound of his voice, it’s pretty incredible.VD: What do you get into when you’re not performing?Botti: I’m on the road pretty much all the time, 11 months a year. When I’m not, I do yoga every day, which kind of keeps me a little bit sane. But the rest of the time, I’m just practicing. Like if I’m not on the road touring and if I have a few days off, I try to really get in the practice room and carve out some hours on my trumpet. I never really take a day off. The trumpet doesn’t like it when you take a day off.