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Chris Botti: Setting the Pace to Chill

Cheryl Hughey By

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I want to interpret melodies and make them mine. —Chris Botti
Ambient or chill music was first declared a genre by composer Brian Eno in the late '70s. Eno’s style was more atmospheric, rather than obtrusive. With a softened tempo and subdued tones, his artistic statement of chill possessed a minimalistic quality. This would be the building blocks of New Age music for the future.

Coming to America from the European club scene, chill has evolved. While the music still maintains the original characteristics, there is a bit more of a groove.

Jazz/rock trumpeter Chris Botti has just released A Thousand Kisses Deep. This album delves into the realms of chill, while maintaining elements of straight-ahead jazz.

Botti is an artist who places his emphasis on how the music is heard, rather than a few quick riffs. “Harmonial and production-wise, everything is geared toward getting the listener in that mood. What’s exciting to me in music is space, melody and motion. I like more moody, restraint oriented music,” says Botti.

With regard to ambient music, Botti states, “I love the tempo of it. The whole movement is to have things down tempo.” However, he feels that “lead voice [was] lacking in some chill.” Botti utilizes the trumpet to create softened melodic flavors over vibrant rhythms. The result is an eclectic mix of vibes and nuances that sets his style apart from the usual jazz fare.

Botti’s desire to stretch musical boundaries is reminiscent of some of the jazz greats of the past. According to Botti, Miles Davis experimented with playing “down tempo and cool.” As for his own unique sound, Botti states, “I’ve borrowed from a lot of styles, be it pop music or jazz.” He feels that the European chill out vibe “works well with the trumpet and that the “grooves are current and now.” He desires to “make beautiful records that are techniques of today.”

Ambient music is nothing new for this trumpeter. He is quick to point out that A Thousand Kisses Deep is a progression of his lifelong work. Playing the trumpet in softened melodic fashion has become his trademark. “The lyrical quality of music is the most important thing. I want to interpret melodies and make them mine,” states Botti.

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