Friday, October 23, 2009

Chris Botti in concert

I sit here with pen in hand on a cold, wet, windy Friday morning. The fireplace is going, soft R&B on the stereo with a steaming cup of Sandy's world-famous latte at my side. We're both off today, having taken in the Chris Botti concert last night at Massey Hall (Toronto's equivalent of Carnegie Hall or the Royal Albert).

The show began rather unremarkably, proceeding right into the music with little fanfare, which was fine by me. Chris was joined by Billy Childs (recipient of the 2009 Guggenheim Award) on piano, a bass player quite reminiscent of Will Farrell after a few hits of weed, a keyboardist, Mark Whitfield on guitar and my boy Billy Kilson on drums. (This guy's an animal, tremendous technique and one hell of a showman).

Although built in 1894, Massey Hall is a venue well-known for its acoustics. Notes seemed to linger long after Chris was off the trumpet, with a wonderfully sweet decay. He was joined by Sy Smith for a few numbers, notably "Good Morning Heartache" and Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love", which had a great groove. The Russian judges gave it a nine because it had a good beat and you could dance to it.

Just kidding.

Although the best-selling jazz artist in North America, Chris Botti comes across as tremendously accessible and down-to-earth. At one point a woman in the audience called out to him to come over to her side of the stage. He did, made his way down into the crowd and played to her. Later he asked for any kids taking trumpet lessons to come down to the front of the stage, where he spent a few minutes engaging them.

The highlight of the evening for me though was the theme from "Cinema Paradiso". I've always loved this piece, but to experience it live was a treat and quite emotional. Botti was joined on stage by reknowned violinist Lucia Micarelli. Four months earlier Micarelli suffered a devastating hand injury which threatened to end her career. But after surgery and extensive physiotherapy she returned stronger than ever. Dressed in a backless, black sequined evening gown with a plunging neckline that stopped just above the waistline, Lucia seemed an animated Venetian sculpture draped in delicate, cascading fabric. Simply stunning.

Violin and trumpet played very well off each other during this piece, like an auditory lovemaking session. It was a romantic, seductive, and very passionate peformance that left us both more than a little teary-eyed, and me with my heart swelling.
Phew, after recounting this I need a cigarette.

And I don't even smoke.

(Takes about six seconds for the audio to kick in)...


  1. Sounds like a wonderful concert! I kind of feel like I had been there, thanks to your great description. :)
    And I would LOVE to be sitting by a roaring fire with a homemade latte right now! Lucky! Instead I'm sitting in a crowded room with florescent lights flickering above me and a McDonalds cup filled with flat Coke. Sigh.

  2. It certainly was an amazing concert. I spent a good part of the afternoon listening to Chris Botti through his website. It was really quiet in the office so I took the opportunity to listen through the computer instead of my MP3. For those who have not heard his music ... OMG you have got to take a listen. His website is simply I know, hard to remember ...

    We were like a couple of kids in a candy store Thursday night. We've missed the opportunity to go see him one or twice before and it was looking like we were going to miss him again but about 10 days before the concert ... YAY! tickets became available. Nice dinner out, GREAT concert, an evening out with my hubby listening to fabulous music .... seats were only 9 rows from the stage, just left of centre (somehow appropriate for us). Long day (mine starts at 4:30 a.m.) and late night (just after 1 a.m. by the time we went to bed) but so totally worth it. Especially since we didn't have to work on Friday.

    Hope you check him out and enjoy him half as much as we do.