413

Chris Botti: December

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Chris Botti: December

Season's Greetings from Chris Botti

There are two broad categories of Jazz seasonal discs. One, represented well by Wynton Marsalis' A Crescent City Christmas Card (Sony Special Products 28812, 2002), Oscar Peterson's An Oscar Peterson Christmas (Telarc Jazz 83372, 1995), and Harry Allen's Christmas In Swingtime (Koch Jazz 51409, 2001) are serious, straight-ahead jazz offerings. These recordings will certainly appeal to all jazz fans but perhaps not to the uninitiated. At the other end of the spectrum are Kenny Gorelick's Miracles: The Holiday Album (Arista 18767, 1994), David Benoit's Remembering Christmas (GRP 9852, 1996), and Dave Koz's A Smooth Jazz Christmas (Capitol 33837, 2001), each which sold a sleigh-full of copies and appealed to listeners across all genre lines.

Framed like this one could surmise that this is a juxtaposition of mainstream, serious jazz against the backdrop of a more pop-oriented brand of jazz. One would be correct. Having listened to all with some measure of enjoyment and endorsement, this listener has been hoping for recordings that fall somewhere between the two. This type of holiday offering would be lush and attractive as the latter recordings are, yet challenging to the listener in places as the former recordings are. Trumpeter Chris Botti's holiday gift, December, pretty well fits this bill. There is a little something here for everyone.

First, this recording could have been entitled, "With Strings," making it similar to Scott Hamilton's recent holiday recording Scott Hamilton with Strings—Christmas Love song (Concord Jazz 4771, 1997). The strings are tastefully arranged and provide Botti's warm open-bell tone with a plush foundation. Botti also sings. Much has been made in comparing Botti with another trumpeter/vocalist, Chet Baker. Botti's trumpet tone is full, demonstrative, friendly, and sexy. Chet Baker's tone was not. While neither is what I would call an outstanding singer, Botti does infuse his vocals with sincerity and warmth as experienced on Richard Marx's (who also produced the recording) "Perfect Day" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. His horn does the rest of the talking on a Bossa "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," a Crescent City "Walking in a Winter Wonderland," and a James Brown funky "Little Drummer Boy."

Botti is plaintive on "The first Noel" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem." He plays these with feeling and empathy. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a provocative duet with guitarist Heitor Pereira and recalls Messiah. The disc contains surprises also. In addition to the very appropriate "Perfect Day," Botti also covers Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" beautifully. Botti challenges us with "Drummer Boy" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." He soothes us with "the Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

Each year, I give Holiday Recordings as gifts. This year, it will be Chris Botti's December.


Track Listing: Christmas Song; First Noel; Let It Snow; Hallelujah; Perfect Day; Santa Claus Is Coming To Town; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; Walking In A Winter Wonderland; Little Drummer Boy; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Silent Night; I'll Be Home For Christmas.

Personnel: Chris Botti: trumpet, vocals; Billy Childs: keyboards; Anthony Wilson: guitars; Bob Sheppard: saxophones, flute; Jimmy Haslip: bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums.

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Columbia Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Hearts & Minds" CD/LP/Track Review Hearts & Minds
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1" CD/LP/Track Review Abbey Road Sessions, Vol 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Stick Men + David Cross: Midori" CD/LP/Track Review Stick Men + David Cross: Midori
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 28, 2016
Read "Illegal Crowns" CD/LP/Track Review Illegal Crowns
by John Sharpe
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "In The Corner Of The Eye" CD/LP/Track Review In The Corner Of The Eye
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 10, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!