Chris Botti at Sing Jazz 2015

Born in Portland, Oregon, Jazz trumpeter Chris Botti’s earliest musical influence was his mother, a classically trained pianist and part-time piano teacher.

He started playing the trumpet at 9 years old, and committed to the instrument at age 12 when he heard Miles Davis play “My Funny Valentine.”

Perhaps one of the most fashionable Jazz musicians around, Chris Botti stood and waited for his interviews at Sing Jazz 2015 in well fitted black suit to which we later hear from the man that he only wears Tom Ford on stage.

The impression given to this reporter was that he was a man of class and passion but most importantly, he knew “the what” and “the why” of his career choices.

chris botti

Be honest about your conviction because it’s easy to say “Oh I’d like your career” but the odds of getting it are due to a lot of good luck. I had that (good luck) and let’s face it, there are a lot of fantastic musicians in the world so you gotta find out within your inner self if you’re willing to go through all the sacrifices to become a musician. And most kids sadly aren’t really honest or direct with themselves enough about it. So really, look inward because you’re gonna spend so much time in your life convincing other people of your passion so you better be certain and convicted in yourself otherwise it’s gonna be a very slippery slope.

Chris Botti on the advice he would give to young musicians

POPCulture Online: Of course with so many genres of music, why did you pick and stick to Jazz?

Chris Botti: First I have a connection with my trumpet and I became a Jazz musician because I suppose it’s the most free way to express yourself on an instrument. If you’re into lyrics and you can sing then obviously you can go many different routes but I think you either have classical music or Jazz and I feel Jazz gave me more freedom to express myself and that was for me more appealing as a trumpet player.

POPCulture Online: You’ve worked with so many amazing artists and one of the biggest standouts is your transition from Jazz to Pop on stage. To you, what is the difference between the two genres?

Chris Botti: I don’t really look at it like “I’m going to play Jazz now or I’m going to play Pop now” but I do have a association with artists like Sting, which makes me have an affection for sophisticated Pop music and I feel that that’s kinda what I’m like.

I try to make a show that takes the audience on a ride of different textures of music rather than say “Now we’re gonna play a full Jazz concert” I suppose in a way it’s like I’m in a weird niche of musicians which I’m very grateful for. Probably having a show that’s not strictly just a Jazz show has helped me over a long period of time for sure and also a bit of Classical music too in the show as well.

POPCulture Online: I understand you actually spent some years as a Radio host. What was that like?

Chris Botti: It was 8 years ago and to be honest I didn’t actually go to work. What they’d do is send someone to wherever I was performing and they’d set up a mobile studio and we’d do a month’s worth of shows. It was actually kinda like a satellite radio show.

It wasn’t really me because I’m not one of these artists who wants to have a TV show and a Radio show and then maybe a clothing line as well. I mean to me what I really feel is I just want to stick with playing the trumpet. To keep it like that and work on my craft as well as my band and to work on making show everyone is rolling around great and that’s the most important thing to me. So eventually I discarded the Radio show…plus I realised I wasn’t great at it…Haha!

POPCulture Online: If not the trumpet, what instrument would you play?

Chris Botti: Now maybe that I look back on my career, I’d like to maybe work with a younger artist like in the role of a manager or a producer. To help this younger person to learn all the things that I know now.

But if not the trumpet….to be honest…..I don’t know the answer to that.

Because for right or wrong, good or bad, I was one of these artists that found the trumpet and just married to it. I’m really committed to it and I never deviated from it. It’s served me well so I don’t really think about options….Haha!

By Elliott Danker

© POPCulture Online 2015

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