Backstage with Botti
Chris Botti and his current touring band recently gave a superb, awe-inspiring performance at Resorts World Manila’s Newport Theater. It was the United States trumpeter’s second show at the same venue in the past year.
The band pumped a more intense energy into the numbers for this last show, and the audience responded with much enthusiasm. At certain moments, it was easy to forget that it was a jazz gig, especially during a full-throttle jam that included Black Sabbath’s main riffs on “Iron Man,” played by Brazilian guitarist Leonardo Amuedo.
Amuedo and Botti played with pianist Geoffrey Keezer, bassist Richie Goods, drummer Billy Kilson, keyboardist Andy Ezrin, violinist Arianne Warsaw-Fan and singer Renee Olstead.
Botti gave the Inquirer a short backstage interview before the show.
You’re on the road most days of the year. Is there anything you wish you could do when you’re home in the United States?
I’ve been doing this thing for so long (laughs)… I don’t know what real life is kinda like … When I am home, it’s just kind of waiting for the next trip, so it’s hard to have relationships. Everything in my life is sort of very superficial, except for what goes on onstage and my relationship with my trumpet.
Why the trumpet, not the saxophone?
I heard Miles Davis when I was a kid and it really resonated with me. I love the saxophone but I think it’s the trumpet that takes listeners to a deeper place. It makes them cry or something. I’ve heard “pretty” on the sax but I haven’t heard “heartbreak” on it.
There are artists who are able to write songs while on the road. What about you?
Very rarely. Being on the road is like going to war. You gotta be in shape… to conquer the audience. You want to give them your all. I want to make my show the most streamlined [and] beautiful, showing off musicians at their best. I don’t want to be thinking and worrying about something else, like writing a new song.
Among the artists you’ve covered, whose music still challenges you?
They all challenge me. You can have a really bad day … I could be playing “Emmanuel” and chip some notes. “Flamenco Sketches,” because of the fact that it’s purely improvised, is a
challenge. The good days are made good because you have bad days. It’s different from pop music in which a band goes out there and they all play parts. Our stuff is much more… the pianist doesn’t have any parts, the drummer doesn’t have any parts. It’s up to them to add to what’s going on, given the framework of the song, of course. That means you can have magic, or someone who’s kind of not really there that night. We know it, the audience doesn’t know it; that’s what makes this unit operate on a high level.
If your music could help change the world, which world leader would you like to sit in the audience?
I’ve performed for a few presidents. There is no more favorite president for me than [former US] president Bill Clinton. He has that rare ability to be a leader and also care about people. He looks you in the eye, and communicates with his eyes in a disarming way. I had never seen that before.