Chris Botti makes an Impression at Mission Hill
Chris Botti brought his “Impressions” tour to West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Estate Winery last night and delivered a jazz concert that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Botti walks a fine line between jazz, classical and pop. His tone was, as always, incredible. His is a singular voice on the trumpet, easy to distinguish within a note or two. His "sound" alone would allow him to wow audiences across cultures and genres.
There is so much more to Chris Botti than just pure tone, however, and those other qualities were on full display last night.
Botti has chops to spare. Without a full orchestra, he was able to allow himself the freedom to really let himself “play” when it was appropriate, and the energy he brought to his improvised solos was electric. He also displayed a keen sense of melody and musicality.
Even at break neck tempos, his playing was accessible.
As is his way, Botti brought along special guests who each gave passionate and beautiful performances. The first to the stage was classical violinist Caroline Campbell. She epitomized the fiery virtuoso, switching between achingly beautiful melodies to complete
and seemingly reckless abandon into frenetic passages, and makng those switches on a dime. Her interactions with Botti entered the realm of the purely magical.
Lisa Fischer, Botti's second guest, and the passion she displayed went beyond palpable into penetrating. The purity of her voice, along with her mastery of it, staggered the audience, both during up-tempo tunes but even more so in the ballads she improvised so
freely on. Fischer could slay you with a single note, and often during this concert she held her listeners as if by a single thread, dangling above the precipice of everything they held dear and indeed their very existence, but in those very same moments had their
full and total trust. Where does Chris Botti find these singers?
Botti's, Campbell's and Fischer’s performances insured that no soul was left untouched.
Botti’s band provided brilliant support for this trio of virtuosi. When done with excellence, arrangements keep shining the light back on the soloists, setting them up for their flights of fancy of underpinning their treatments of melodies.
Pianist Billy Childs, drummer Billy Kilson, bassist Richie Goods, keyboardist Andy Ezrin, and guitarist Leonardo Amuedo all played with impeccable time and a profound sense of dynamics. It is mostly on reflection that one realizes just how well
they supported whoever was soloing and how they provided the ebb and flow of a masterful concert performance.
Botti is generous with sharing the spotlight, and allowed each band member his time to solo. Long time band members Billy Childs and Billy Kilson were provided ample opportunity and both were outstanding, improvising with both creativity and intent.
Bassist Richie Goods soloed on both the acoustic upright as well as the electric bass, and keyboardist Andy Ezrin provided some synth lines later in the show. Newcomer to Botti’s band, but long time Ivan Lins sideman, guitarist Leonardo Amuedo took
some scorching solos, the kind that take your breath away and leave your mouth wide open. All of these guys are gifted musicians and all of them shared that with their band-mates and the audience last night.
This concert was quite remarkable. Botti’s tone was gorgeous and his phrasing majestic. Campbell’s violin and Fischer’s voice both commanded attention and delivered fulfillment and excitement. The band’s ensemble playing and soloing were both exceptional.
It is hard to imagine a better fusing of all the best that jazz and classical have to offer along with tinges of pop than what was achieved last night: Chris Botti, his band and his special guests left an indelible impression on the Mission Hill Winery
audience last night. One that will in fact be permanent and fast.