Sunday, January 05, 2003


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Artist: Chris Botti
Album: ‘Night Sessions’
CD: 5 November, 2001
Number of Discs: 1
Catalogue Number: Columbia 5044982

Artists: Bill Bruford, Tony Levin (w. David Torn and Chris Botti)
Album: ‘Bruford-Levin Upper Extremities’
CD: 29 June, 1998
Number of Discs: 1
Catalogue Number: DGM 9805

Extraordinarily, for one so young, this is Chris Botti's fourth solo album - not counting the ‘Caught’ film soundtrack and a collaboration with David Benoit. He is certainly a spotlight for Columbia Records at the moment (see also his Verve page), and it is good that those who have heard him in the company of Sting, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell may now be tempted by his more explicit jazz mode.

‘Night Sessions’ is a wonderfully produced, exquisitely played collection: smooth in the best sense of that word. It is not, I confess, in my normal listening ambit. But if you don't have Chet Baker to hand and you want something to seduce your sound system into some pleasing late night - early morning moods, Botti is definitely your man. The recording, apparently, was executed in just these conditions.

On the more up-tempo tracks comparisons to the likes of Herb Alpert , Rick Braun, Hugh Masekela and Chuck Mangione readily come to mind. Even when the surrounding instrumentation seems a little too lush, Botti’s subtle accents and precise technique cut through to keep the more expectant listener engaged. It would be sad, however, if those wily company executives kept a talent like this leashed to an easier listening niche alone.

Maybe the fact that people like me (who generally prefer to be startled rather than soothed by jazz) can still appreciate this fine album will encourage those who come to Chris Botti for different reasons to taste him under more dangerous conditions: with the Bruford-Levin 'Upper Extremities' avant-rock project in the studio, and its 'BLUE Nights' live incarnation .

Admittedly, Bill Bruford's intricate drumming, Tony Levin's left-field bass and the deconstructing guitar of David Torn are about as far removed from the 'Night Session' aesthetic as you can get, but Botti is just as at home there, and his mellifluous trumpet creates a telling counterpoint to some adventurous, noisy, boundary-pushing and downright curious music of the extremes.

Yes, you can enjoy the best of all worlds with this man. But don’t spend too long in the lounge, please…

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