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Chris Botti: To Love Again (2005)

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Chris Botti: To Love Again How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Clearly a ballad album, To Love Again combines Chris Botti's warm trumpet tone and immaculate articulation with strings on a program designed to cure what ails ya. Guest vocalists make the session appeal to a broad audience, while the trumpeter's focus on his intimate ensemble interpretations remains its healthiest feature. His trumpet mastery has developed into a cornucopia of rich fascination.

With familiar standards such as "I'll Be Seeing You," "What's New?" and "Embraceable You," Botti lets his open horn shower its melody as if from on high. Gracefully moving from phrase to phrase with a seamless fragrance, the trumpeter enjoys a vocal-like presence that speaks everybody's language. Throughout the history of civilization, ballads have defined communication in its purest form. From the earliest sacred works to opera, folk, pop and rock, the ballad has always held its own. Botti communicates in that universal language that we've been talking about for ages.

His original "To Love Again" purrs quietly with a smooth, muted trumpet texture that glides stealthily in the night. If Romeo were to enlist the support of this quintet, he'd win Juliet's heart during the overture; before the curtain ever rises.

Botti's guest vocalists prove convincing. Michael Bublé swings with a Sinatra swagger. Paula Cole adds heartfelt passion, while Sting questions with sincere honesty. Jill Scott turns in a hip interpretation of "Good Morning, Heartache" that recalls Billie Holiday (just a little). Paul Buchanan expresses with breathy over-emotion, while Gladys Knight turns in a beautiful interpretation of "Lover Man." She's matched with Botti's golden open horn in a teary-eyed adventure. Rosa Passos sings quietly with a hushed presence, while Steven Tyler closes the album with an aching "Smile."

Young Renee Olstead sings an old song, "Pennies from Heaven," with a hearty big band arrangement backing her. She, Botti, and the band swing with a jovial mood that contrasts with the rest of the program. It's one of the best tracks, too, putting the trumpeter in the role of Harry James.

Ballads make the world go 'round. Chris Botti can be welcomed into every living room, every automobile sound system, and every portable set of earphones, because he communicates freely in a language that we can all understand.

Track Listing: Embraceable You; What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?; My One and Only Love; Let There Be Love; What's New?; Good Morning, Heartache; To Love Again; Are You Lonesome Tonight?; Lover Man; I'll Be Seeing You; Pennies from Heaven; Here's That Rainy Day; Smile.

Personnel: Chris Botti: trumpet; Billy Childs: piano, Fender Rhodes; Anthony Wilson: guitar; Robert Hurst, Arnie Somogyi, Christian McBride: bass; Billy Kilson, Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Pauliho da Costa: percussion; Heitor Pereira: guitar (2); Dean Parks: guitar (13); Brian Bromberg: bass (14); Richard Cottle: Hammond organ (10); Greg Phillinganes: Fender Rhodes (6); Peter Erskine: drums (10); Paula Cole: vocal (3); Michael Bubl: vocal (4); Sting: vocal (2); Jill Scott: vocal (6); Steven Tyler: vocal (14); Gladys Knight: vocal (10); Renee Olstead: vocal (12); Rosa Passos: vocal (13); Paul Buchanan: vocal (8); London Session Orchestra 2005.

Record Label: Columbia Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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