GRAMMY-winning trumpeter Chris Botti has been one of the most popular instrumentalists in the world for nearly three decades; he’s collaborated with some of the biggest superstars on the planet, including Sting, Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, Joni Mitchell, Steven Tyler, Andrea Bocelli, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, and others; he’s topped the jazz charts with numerous albums, earned multiple Gold and Platinum records, performed with symphony orchestras and on prestigious stages from Carnegie Hall to the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House.
In short, Chris Botti really needs no introduction. Yet with his Blue Note Records debut, he’s offering one anyway. Vol.1 is in many ways a fresh start for the trumpeter. Having successfully crossed over from jazz renown to pop stardom, Botti’s first album in more than a decade finds him crossing back, with a small group project focused on acoustic jazz and classic standards.
“I turned 60 in 2022, at a time that seemed like a restart for so many things in the world,” Botti says. “I wanted to strip away all the orchestral arrangements and special guests and focus more on my playing, the playing of my band, and these jazz classics that we always love playing on stage.”
While Botti could boast of the major names with whom he’s shared stages, this project allows him to share his enthusiasm for the jazz greats past and present that excite him – his conversation is peppered with references to everyone from Miles Davis to Keith Jarrett to Pat Metheny to Brad Mehldau. He points to landmark albums like Davis’ Kind of Blue, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, or Metheny’s duo outing with Charlie Haden, Beyond the Missouri Sky as models for the kind of “lifestyle” music he set out to make – music that is exquisite on its own but can also set the scene for a coffee shop or hotel lounge, instantly generating a sophisticated mood.
Of course, Botti couldn’t have found a more ideal home for this artistic rebirth. Blue Note has been a standard-bearer of jazz throughout its storied history, and the trumpeter found a receptive partner in label president Don Was. “Anyone that’s lucky enough to say they’re on Blue Note Records should be pinching themselves,” Botti says. “It’s a fantastic honor. I had great runs on Verve and Columbia, so it’s amazing to now arrive on the most famous traditional jazz record label.”
Not that Vol. 1 is a complete about-face – longtime fans will immediately recognize Botti’s glowing tone and regal melodicism, as well as his flair for investing the narrative of a song with high drama and vibrant emotion. “There’s a cinematic quality that I like to hear in music, and that I’ve found that audiences really love,” he says. “The essence of that remains on this album.
It’s paramount to me that there is incredible beauty and elegance to all of the performances and the way they’re recorded.”