The first time I saw the billboard heralding that Chris Botti, trumpeter extraordinaire, will be coming to Manila, I knew that I absolutely had to watch him. My plan was just to simply watch the show, maybe get a CD signed, have a good time. That was all.
But thanks to a good friend (who will definitely receive a wonderful Christmas gift from me), not only was I able to watch the show from a good vantage point, I actually got to meet him in person, shake his hand (which will remain unwashed in my head) sit a few feet away from him, stare into his eyes as he looked directly into mine while answering my inane questions, and then have his face a few inches away from mine while we had our picture taken.
He was loquacious, charming, witty, passionate and drop dead gorgeous. Imagine Hugh Jackman, Chris Martin, Julian Spade, David Beckham and Sting all rolled into one. And he wasn’t even playing yet!
Someone asked him if he had any reservations about coming to the Philippines, and his face was like, “Why?”. So we told him that a lot of foreign acts backed out of going here because of the “instability” and he quickly says, ”It’s an honor to be asked to play here.” And he follows it up by saying that for him it would still be an honor if someone asks him to play in a backyard.
This is one man who is absolutely passionate and dedicated to his music. He has no other hobbies except yoga and chess and the latter he hasn’t even played in a while. This is one man who started out playing in the mean streets of New York and has now played with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Sting.
It was actually because of Sting that I first fell in love with him. He was Sting’s trumpeter during his Brand New Day tour. And he isn’t stingy in expressing his gratitude for Sting (yes, even his close friends call him Sting apparently) for giving him his first big break.
All these thrilling emotions I felt even before I first heard him play live. So imagine how I felt as he started playing the opening notes to their first song. “Hopelessly enamored” is the phrase that comes to mind if I analyzed what I felt during that entire concert. Not only was he an amazing trumpeter, he was humble enough to give the stage to his amazingly talented band: Grammy winning pianist Billy Childs, cool as a cucumber bassist Mark “whose surname escapes me at the moment”, charismatic and energetic guitarist Mark Whitfield and the expressive and “deceptive-looking” (because he looks like a basketball player or a gangster) drummer Billy Kilson.
Whoever said that Chris Botti’s music was “pogi jazz”, have you even listened to his music. He may be handsome as sin, but his music is anything but “pa-cute”. And please, don’t ever ever ever ever compare him to Kenny G. or I may have to maim you for life.