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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘I’m getting back to where I should be’: Chris Botti headlines Fox Theater on Saturday night and is working on his first album in 10 years

Touring musicians are often described as living out of hotels. However, for more than five years, trumpet player Chris Botti literally did reside at a hotel.

“When I decided to make that move, it made total sense to me,” Botti said. “I realized that I didn’t need all of the trappings. I didn’t need the sports car or the big house with the pool. I’m on the road so much of the time, so why bother with all of that? It’s all about the music anyway.”

Botti sold his sprawling Los Angeles home and relocated to Lower Manhattan’s swank Mercer Hotel.

“I checked in in 2014 and checked out March 13, 2020,” Botti said. “That was the exact day the governor of New York shut everything down. The timing for me to move into my apartment was serendipitous since everything changed at the hotel. The people who were there, who were like my family, were fired. It was a brutal time.”

It was especially difficult for Botti, who was so used to the road. But for the first time in his 30-plus year career, he couldn’t tour.

“It’s been some strange times,” Botti said while calling from his Manhattan apartment. “I’m getting back to where I should be.”

Botti, who will perform Saturday night at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, is working on a new album. “It’s about time that I get back on the road.”

The studio Blue Note will play host to Botti, who is working on his first album since 2012’s “Impressions.”

“I’m going to start working on a new record in August,” Botti said. “This will be my first one for Blue Note. It’s been a long time since I made a record.”

But the suave contemporary jazz performer, who was born in Portland and adeptly crosses over into rock and pop, has enough tunes in the canon for his show at the Fox. With 10 albums in the can, Botti will be fine. Odds are classics such as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You” will be rendered.

Expect an evening of top-tier musicianship since that’s what Botti’s life has been about since he came up the ranks as a session musician a generation ago. Botti learned his craft with icons who spared no expense when it came to the sonics. Botti toured extensively with Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Sting.

“The common denominator between those artists is that each of them could afford the most heralded musicians, and they hired them,” Botti said. “I totally get that. … With Paul Simon, he’s hiring (drummer) Steve Gadd, who is 77. He’s not out there for how he looks but how he plays.

“Steve’s out with James Taylor now because James cares how the music sounds live. Pop acts don’t care about Steve Gadd. … Drake doesn’t even have a band. He holds up a microphone and puts it out to the audience, and they sing the lyrics, and he backs a Brinks truck up to the venue and collects the money. Kudos to him.”

Botti is an old school virtuoso who learned a no-nonsense approach from his close pal, Sting. “I’ve soaked up so much from Sting,” Botti said. “Sting is (like) my big brother. I wouldn’t be in this apartment talking to you if it wasn’t for Sting. I’ll see him in a couple of days.

“Whenever I visit, he’ll be playing a guitar and have the chess board set up for us. Sting is so dedicated to his craft. I admire how he carries himself and his drive. Look, the man is 70 and has all of the accolades and money in the world, and he’s out on tour again and making music, and he just tries to get better and better. That inspires me.”

Expect a vibrant show when Botti plays the Fox with musicians playing off one another. “When you catch this show, you’ll see that connection we have as musicians,” Botti said.

“It’s alarming to me when I go to a rock concert, and I see guys who don’t even interact with each other. Sometimes, they stare straight ahead, and there’s no camaraderie. I hate watching people up there who are stiff. For me, you go out there and just let loose and have fun.”