Chris Botti – Bruce Mason Centre February 21, 2018

Globetrotting jazz trumpeter Chris Botti finally made it to New Zealand, treating Auckland fans to an unparalleled display of musical virtuosity and showmanship.

This was much more than a man with a horn.

The Grammy-award winning musician has surrounded himself with some of the finest musicians on the planet, effortlessly jumping from jazz to classical to funk to opera to rock without missing a beat.

That beat was supplied by the extraordinary drummer Lee Pearson who anchored the revolving ensemble that supported Botti and his trumpet.

The rest of the band included bass player Reggie Hamilton, Brazilian guitarist Leonardo Amuedo, pianist Geoff Keezer, synth player Rachel Eckroth and special appearances by violinist extraordinaire Sandy Cameron and vocalists Sy Smith and Rafael Moras.

With no support act, Botti and his crew got down to business just after 7:30pm and played for close to two hours without a break.

As it turns out, Botti’s super-smooth image is somewhat deceptive. I was expecting a very slick, tightly-orchestrated set, but the first few tunes found Botti and his band really playing with each other. They sounded loose and free to improvise, generating an exciting vibe from the get-go.

Violinist Sandy Cameron was a real standout early on, playing an instrument that she claimed was made in 1735.

As the show progressed, it felt like they were falling more into a practised routine…not that the music suffered for it.

Vocalist Sy Smith emerged halfway through the show looking every bit like 1970’s-era Diana Ross and sounding like Minnie Riperton. Her scat singing with Botti during The Look Of Love was truly impressive.

In fact, the entire evening was impressive with Botti’s good-natured crowd interaction and stunning trumpet playing acting as the glue to hold it all together.

It may have taken Chris Botti 15 years to make his way to New Zealand, but here’s hoping his return comes much more quickly.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Rachel Webb:

Chris Botti set list:

  1. Gabriel’s Oboe
  2. Concerto de Aranjuez
  3. When I Fall In Love
  4. Emmanuel
  5. You Don’t Know What Love Is
  6. Blue In Green
  7. Venice
  8. For All We Know
  9. The Very Thought Of You
  10. The Look Of Love
  11. Kashmir
  12. Time To say Goodbye
  13. Regroovable
  14. Let’s Stay Together
  15. The Nearness Of You
  16. My Funny Valentine