Trumpeter Chris Botti's interpretations are thoughtful and his original compositions impressive. He's smooth without actually being in the Smooth Jazz category. He improvises, and has a touch of Miles, but doesn't go on at great length. He's in a genre all his own, and that's what makes him so remarkable.
Italia is a formidable set of compositions, ranging from film music to classical opera, along with Botti's title track. It captures the romance and sweeping atmosphere of Italy, and shows Botti's strengths as composer and interpreter.
The opener, "Deborah's Theme (from 1984's Once Upon A Time In America) and "Gabriel's Oboe (from 1986's The Mission) are by accomplished Italian composer Ennio Morricone. While the original "Deborah's Theme is a classical piece with a full orchestra, Botti interprets it with very little accompaniment, letting his trumpet shine on this shorter version. The title track is a duet with one of Italy's greatest tenors, Andrea Bocelli, and is a wonderful addition to Botti's tribute to the country. The Tuscany-born singer's passion for music and his homeland take "Italia to a higher level.
Paula Cole, a frequent Botti collaborator, offers her sensual vocals to a new rendition of Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You. Botti's trumpet adds a touch of magic to the 1957 recording of "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face, by singer Dean Martin. Were Dino alive to hear this, he would likely be as pleased as Botti with the result. Puccini's "Nessun Dorma, from the opera Turandot, receives a stunning interpretation, while "Ave Maria is done beautifully, with a choir creating the religious and breathtaking characteristics of Schubert's masterpiece.
Italia evokes the lushness and romance of Italy from the very first note. Botti brings new life to old standards, adding something extra to already perfect compositions. His work continues to improve with each successive release, with Italia being masterful and quite beautiful evidence that Botti is the premier trumpeter of his time.
Personnel: Chris Botti: trumpet; Andrea Bocelli: vocals (2); Paula Cole: vocals (4); Dean Martin: vocals (6); Brian Bromberg: bass; Gil Goldstein: Fender Rhodes; Steve Kujala: flute; Tom Scott: soprano saxophone; Derek Watckins: trumpet; David Foster: piano; Richard Berry: French horn; John Barclay: trumpet; Guy Barker: trumpet; Mark Berrow: violin; John Bradbury: violin; Richard Bullock: trombone; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Richard Edwards: trombone.