Chris Botti has been so good in the past, making great stuff I am still enjoying a lot.
His last excellent record, maybe, was "When I Fall In Love
And probably that one marks the start of the slow descent of Chris towards the so called "MOR Jazz - Jazz of Mass Destruction - Snooze Jazz".
There is an element which may have been the catalyst in Botti's tranformation: his meeting with Sting, who has been immensely influential.
Sting's first guest appearance was on 1999's album "Slowing Down The World
". Botti started touring with Sting promoting the British artist's album "Brand New Day
The two talented musicians got a strong mutual impact, even in personal life.
Everybody knows that Sting loves Italy and lives in Italy.
Chris visits Italy, falls in love with the country's culture, classical and pop music and lifestyle.
Chris keeps following advise from ex-Police leader, and a new album "Italia
Pictures of beautiful Tuscany are taken, and the Italian fashion photographer Fabrizio Ferri - who has taken all Sting's latest portraits - is hired to make - from then on - all records' front and back covers. Check this out.
Botti's immersion in Italian culture is deep and passionate, he listens to Italian music, operas, popular songs, Pavarotti, Bocelli, with usual suspects Celine Dion, David Foster...and lately the ubiquitous Tony Bennett (in the wake of that cheesy duets' caravanseai fashion, do not forget 2011 Bocelli's Concerto: One Night In Central Park
, where Italian popopera star sings the same, same "En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor").
He gets accustomed to that syle of making music, TV friendly, kind of cheesy, very fashionable at that time, like all CDs by Pavarotti, Pavarotti & friends..mixing classical and pop into a questionable hybrid.
Paradoxally, almost at the same time, Sting and Botti make, each on his own, two 'live' records, which are, in many ways, specular or at least very similar: "Live In Boston
" (on it Sting is appearing guest) and "Live In Berlin
", both released with a Video DVD.
NOW, this is "the Chris Botti" that we find on his latest "Impressions".
Exactly the same formulaic mess : classical music, Spanish/Italian/French, classics, Italian and Brazilian pop, tango, Bocelli, David Foster & CO.
Only the venerable Benedetto is not present...don't understand why.
Personally I am not that crazy about this record and the fashion started by Pavarotti, the Three Tenors, David Foster, Bocelli, Tony Bennett...Very commercial, crowd pleaser, "as seen on TV"...
There was a time a great artist,Mark Isham, excellent jazz/new age 'solo' trumpeter, in a way a lttle similar to Chris. Now he is composing music for films..... He made good stuff like Pure Mark Isham [Us Import
] and Blue Sun
Then, slowly, he became a little too obvious and snoozy and less engaging.
If Chris keeps going the current way, he will end up composing for the movies' soundtracks just like Mark Isham is doing now.
What a pity. Now it seems he's falling easily into the dangerously pretentious 'duets' trap, just like Bocelli, Foster and T. Bennett...
The CD, at times, is self indugent, too boring and depressing.
It's time for him to stop collaborations with 'saccharine' mass producers like David Foster and A. Bocelli. And eventually to move on with a new producer, and eventually without Sting as well.
Please, do not call this music JAZZ.
P.S. Fabrizio Ferri has been Sting's photographer for years. Since Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner settled in Tuscany. Read above.