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Smooth as silk

Chris Botti and Ensemble
The Fox Theatre
Tucson, AZ
April 1, 2016
Chris Botti and Ensemble Chris Botti and Ensemble Chris Botti and Ensemble

Review and photos by Mary Andrews

Chris Botti gained notoriety in the 1990's as a session and live musician for singers like Sting, Paul Simon, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, Natalie Cole and many others. Chris has a distinctive, pure trumpet sound heightened by the microphone attached on the end of his trumpet.

A group of eight highly talented musicians and singers shared the stage with Mr. Botti during the two-hour show. It was obvious why Mr. Botti had immense respect for the other members of the ensemble. "Deborah's Theme" was the opening song that featured violinist Caroline Campbell as well as Chris Botti. Campbell's stylish caressing of the violin did not hint at what she was going to do later in the set. Her fiery performance of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir," had the audience on their feet for a standing ovation.

Pianist Geoffrey Keezer's piano, Lee Pearson's drums, and Ben Butler's guitar were featured in the song, "When I Fall In Love." Chris played the melody and finished with his trumpet's long high note. It was apparent this early in the set that the musicians were sharing the stage without anyone upstaging the other. Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is often be overplayed by various artists. However, Chris Botti and guitarist, Ben Butler breathed new life in this haunting song.

During the show, Chris noticed someone in the first row was video recording the show. Chris responded, "It's okay if you do that, but you have to promise that if I screw up during show, don't put that on YouTube. You have to cut that out. Be respectful to your neighbors."

Bass man, Richie Goods, got his first acoustic bass solo of the night with the song "Venice." Chris jokingly introduced him as the Mariah Carey of the bass. (Richie didn't seem to be a diva.) Later in the song, drummer, Lee Pearson played one of his powerful solos of the evening. Pearson played an eight minute solo later in the show during "Regrooveable" that was a highlight of the show. Richie got his great electric bass 'licks' in the song too. Both Lee and Richie had a prevalent presence throughout the set providing their dynamic rhythms. Andy Ezrin rounded out the ensemble with his electric piano with synthesizer.

Midway through the set, Chris made his way into the audience playing "The Very Thought Of You." Jazz-singer, Sy Smith joined Chris to sing in the audience. Sy has a physical resemblance to Diana Ross and sounds like a cross between Ms. Ross and Dionne Warwick, in a very good way. She can also hit those Minnie Riperton high notes! Sy even did a speaking impersonation of Diana Ross. Ms. Smith displayed an incredible vocal range that is clearly unmatched.

The second vocalist of the night was George Komsky, singing "Italia" and "Time To Say Goodbye." His dashing good looks were enhanced by his tenor voice much like Andrea Bocelli. (The UCLA graduate was a semi-finalist during the first season of America's Got Talent.) Mr. Komsky's vocals tonight were flawless and stunning.

There were many great moments during the show from Grammy winner, Chris Botti, and his ensemble. Chris Botti did not have any 'screw ups' either! The band is on the road some 200 days a year. This is not to be missed when they come to your area!

1. Deborah's Song/Concerto
2. When I Fall in Love
(Victor Young & His Orchestra cover)
3. Emmanuel
4. You Don't Know What Love Is
5. Venice
6. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
7. The Very Thought of You (with Sy Smith)
8. The Look of Love (with Sy Smith)
9. Violin Solo (with Caroline Campbell)
10. Kashmir (Led Zeppelin cover)
11. Italia
12. Time to Say Goodbye
13. Regrooveable
14. Let's Stay Together (with Sy Smith)

15. Nearness of You
16. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers & Hart cover)
Chris Botti and Ensemble Chris Botti and Ensemble
Chris Botti and Ensemble Chris Botti and Ensemble
Chris Botti and Ensemble Chris Botti and Ensemble Chris Botti and Ensemble

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