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On August 29, 2003, Chicago was host to Chris Botti, Norman Brown and Brian Culbertson for a double-header performance at the Navy Pier. This reviewer was able to catch all three at the early gig. Jazz/rock trumpeter Chris Botti opened the festivities with a resonating rendition of “When I Fall in Love.” The crowd was responsive to the hip style of this multi-category National Smooth Jazz Awards winner. Botti’s ability to make connections showed in the attentive faces of concertgoers throughout the set. The Botti Band was structurally sound in some technically advanced solo moments from Night Sessions. It was old school meets cutting edge as Botti gave a slightly different twist to “Why Not” from Slowing Down the World. Botti’s new CD, A Thousand Kisses Deep, was released on September 30, 2003.
Brian Culbertson (piano/trombone) greeted his hometown crowd with “Say What” from Come On Up. Touring with Culbertson was Michael Lington on sax. His smooth style added classic textures to Culbertson’s bold showmanship. Culbertson helped produce and even co-wrote a couple of songs from Lington’s 2002 album, Everything Must Change. In a stirring rendition of “All About You,” Lington was greeted with cheers and loud applause. Later, Culbertson proudly introduced his father, Jim, on trumpet. Jim Culbertson is a 32-year music-teaching veteran from Decatur, Illinois. Several of the other band members were also from the Chicago area. Brian Culberston will be joining Chris Botti, Marc Antoine and Bobby Caldwell for the upcoming Dave Koz and Friends Smooth Jazz Christmas Tour.
Closing the concert was the Grammy winning guitarist, Norman Brown. Toes were tapping and heads were bobbing as Brown played “After the Storm.” Everyone smiled as he pointed out his colorful Jimi Hendrix shirt. A funky tribute was to follow that had everyone dancing in the seats. Scatting freely, Brown jammed in “Out’a Nowhere” from his Celebration CD. Slowing things down a bit, he later crooned a soothing rendition of “I Still Believe.” The band had it going on as they wowed the audience with the CD title track, “Just Chillin.” You can find the latest information on Norman Brown by clicking the link below.