Chris Botti – Vol.1 (ENG review)

Blue Note – Street Date October 20th 2023
Chris Botti – Vol.1 (ENG review)

When a smooth jazz star joins the Blue Note label, it inevitably attracts attention, but what is he doing here? Jazz, yes, but…
What we can say is that Chris Botti didn’t choose the easy path for his first album here, taking on a multitude of jazz standards: “Danny Boy,” “Blue In Green,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “My Funny Valentine”… Typically, when an artist does this, disaster is not far off—either they imitate what has already been done, or it results in an uninspiring interpretation fit for a dance hall. But that’s not the case with a character like Chris Botti, one of my favorite trumpet players, and this album confirms all of Chris’s artistic qualities…
From smooth jazz, he retains the essence of what made him successful in the smooth jazz genre, especially his way of attacking notes and playing with a soft touch, adding the necessary nuances just where they are needed, well-calibrated, resulting in an inspiring jazz that at times even recalls the late, great Chet Baker in his prime. Thus, we witness a skillful reimagining of all these tracks, with “Blue in Green” being, in my view, the masterpiece of this album. Chris Botti manages to make us forget Miles Davis with just two notes, imposing his majestic style. Thank you, Chris Botti! Because not everyone can pull off this kind of exercise.
Chris Botti states: “I turned 60 in 2022, at a time that seemed like a fresh start for so many things in the world,” says Botti. “I wanted to strip away all the orchestrations and focus more on my playing, that of my band, and on these jazz classics that we still love to perform on stage.”
While Botti can boast about the great names he’s shared the stage with, this project allows him to share his enthusiasm for the jazz legends, past and present, who inspire him, from Miles Davis to Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny to Brad Mehldau. He cites iconic albums like Davis’s “Kind of Blue,” “John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman,” or Metheny’s collaboration with Charlie Haden on “Beyond the Missouri Sky” as models for the sophisticated ambient music he sought to create.
So, this album is 100% Chris Botti in augmented reality, pushing his art to the extreme. It’s beautiful, highly aesthetic, and surprising, especially for professionals like me, where the surprise comes more from the transposition of his art into more conventional jazz, making it actually quite unconventional. Chris Botti has won the bet, confirming that he is one of the greatest artists of today, although we already knew it, but it feels good!

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, September 30th 2023


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