A Blue Note Holiday II: A Botti-ful Christmas

I’m sure you will forgive the pun.

This show I had planned since late September for a simple reason, one that I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned before: I love a good trumpet. Dizzy, Chuck Mangione, Cindy Bradley, David Wells, Rick Braun, and…of course…Chris Botti. But Botti, above them, stands out with a peculiarity that, if you listen for it closely, shines through very clear: classical training. This is clear especially in his holding notes; he hits it and stays on it, stretching them and not once faltering in tone, pitch, or strength. It is very clean-sounding; compared to Rick Braun, who is very easily recognizable when he mutes his horn, Botti is the opposite. Even when Pandora mixes it up, I am far more likely to hear him without the mute.

So tonight, when I geared up and bundled up, I knew I was in for a listening experience. And, because it’s a sold-out show, I was extra-happy to be at the Note early.

As I was eating dinner, a text arrived from my friend Rosa, who was looking to make it to the show as well, despite the Sold Out status. I spoke to a person, then to another, then gazed around the seating, and one of the managers was gracious enough to say, “Get her in here, and we’ll figure something out.”

Rosa arrived in the nick of time, and when we were safely ensconced in our usual stageside seating, the show began.

You would think that, what with it being Christmas Day, you’d have a good bit of that theme for music, but no. No, no, not at all. Chris kicked into a medley that kicked off with Ave Maria, which transitioned into When I Fall In Love. Now, if you ever heard the CD version of that song, you will understand instantly what I mean by classic trumpet. If there’s ever a perfect example of how clean that instrument can sound if left with minimal backing, that recording is it.

However, this was the Note, and with Billy Childs and Mark Whitfield in the mix, the band took this into a multifaceted slew of twists and turns, finishing with a rocking, rousing solo by drummer Billy Kilson. Then – stop. A brief pause. And Chris resumes the final notes of When I Fall In Love.

Another thing that I enjoy about Botti, and this is especially true of the In Boston record, there is no shortage of guests who lend their own touch to the music. Tonight, out came Aurica Duca, to lend a warm, emotion-tugging touch to Emmanuel on violin. And also, out came the amazing Lisa Fischer, whose voice matched Chris’s trumpet note for note, so well that  – and it’s rare that you will hear me say this – it gave me chills. I may be premature in saying it, but jazz and soul may have a new queen in the making with Lisa Fischer.

Easily, this show made for one of the best things to do on a holiday to date. Between amazing food as ever at the Note, great company, and the sort of auditory magic that Mr. Botti serves up, this makes for one of my better Christmas seasons.

And so, with this writeup I also wrap up a season of amazing musical meandering.

May you all have a wonderful rest of 2010.

K.G.

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