Chris Botti - Italia
Description & Features+
Italia, Mr. Botti's latest, is a collection of lush, instrumental music with a distinctively bel canto influence. The CD opens with one of two compositions by Academy Award winner, Ennio Morricone. Botti has long been a champion of wider recognition for Morricone, and "Deborah's Theme" from Once Upon A Time In America is a fine example of Morricone's lyrical style as realized by Botti's warm, haunting and honest tone. The strings are warm and the effects a bit blurry, but the Bernstein-like setting works, overall. Morricone's "Gabriel's Oboe" from The Mission is set by Gil Goldstein, and supported by Dean Park's guitar and Billy Childs piano. This context is perfect for Botti's trumpet. The spirit of Italia shines through, and the inventive lyricism that is a Morricone trademark, shines. Gil was a long-time apprentice -- then colleague of that other Gil, who arranged and orchestrated for Miles on Sketches of Spain and Porgy And Bess. The relationship was obviously a great benefit to the musical community. These two cuts give the entire record a gravitas and sense of jazz history.
In a more traditional jazz vein, through the magic of modern recording techniques, Botti joins the late Dean Martin on "I've Grow Accustomed To Her Face." Dino was the most Italiano of the Rat Pack, and sings everything with an easygoing charm. Botti offers a trumpet line with more Pops than Miles. Together they sound buoyant and happy, callow and classy. While this sort of thing is high risk, from an artistic viewpoint, here it's well handled and brief. In all, this is a good choice for stylistic contrast and effect. There are other vocals, including renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli and the lovely Paula Cole. Bocelli appears on the title track at his romantic best. Botti, again Harmon muted for the opening and open for the solo, offers an interpretation of the bel canto style to rival Bocelli's own. Big and bold, this track probably defines the record best. It's Botti's own composition, and he has a strong grasp of what is effective.
Chris Botti continues to find a way to meld styles and influences into beautiful new (but not disturbing) forms. The classical cuts, "Nessun Dorma" and "Ave Maria" are lyrical and lush. The more pop stuff is fine. The Chet Baker influenced stuff is cool and sexy. Italia is a tasteful and beautiful record, with some very strong material to anchor it.
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