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Chris Botti at SFJazz Center – San Francisco

Well, I just had to ignore the boring list of to-dos on my desk this morning because I am itching to share with you about the wonderful time my friends and I had yesterday afternoon at the SFJazz Center with Chris Botti and his band. You may already know about him, but then again, you might not, and I would not want you to miss out on the pleasure of such outstanding music.


I first discovered the amazing talent of trumpeter Chris Botti a few years ago, while still living in Hawai’i. I regularly receive e-mails from Ticketmaster to alert me of musical performances I might be interested in happening in my area, and that time Chris Botti was featured prominently. I googled him, was left breathless by the warm-honey smoothness of his sound, and rushed to buy tickets to his show, which was at the Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu.



The image above is the promo image from the SFJazz site – not one of mine, sigh!



Even before attending the live show, I had already purchased two of his CDs from iTunes and ordered both his live-performance DVDs “Chris Botti in Boston” and “Chris Botti: Live with Orchestra and Special Guests” from Amazon and played them all several times over.

Here are a few links to videos from his Chris Botti in Boston event I found on YouTube. Just relax and enjoy:

Emmanuel – with violinist Lucia Micarelli 

This is one of my favorite songs EVER, and what I wake up to in the morning when my alarm goes off.

Shape of my Heart – with Sting and Josh Groban

Cinema Paradiso – with Yo-Yo Ma

Cryin’ – with Steven Tyler


A few months ago I found out he was going to be performing at the Uptown Theatre in Napa, and I got tickets for that, taking two friends with me who are now also Botti enthusiasts. Yesterday afternoon at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco was my third live performance experience, and I can hardly wait for the next one.


The Miner Auditorium at the recently opened SF Jazz Center has an intimate feel that I really enjoyed, and literally no bad seats. Everyone gets a great view, and the front rows are so close to the stage you almost feel like you are part of the band. We were sitting front row on the right side of the stage, a step behind the sound control console. I do not have any good images, as (professional) photography and video was not allowed, but this quick iPhone 5 snapshot, smoothed over a couple of times in Photoshop, gives you an idea of how close we were.




For two full hours we were transported, uplifted and – I want to say ‘rocked’ but jazzed is the better word here –  by the music of this Grammy-winning trumpet player and the phenomenal talent he has a flair for gathering around him. Chris Botti may be the headliner, but he is also very generous at sharing stage with and highlighting each of his band members and guests:
Riche Goods – bass

Lee Pearson – drums

Geoffrey Keezer – piano

Ben Butler – guitar

Andy Ezrin – keyboards

Caroline Campbell – violin

George Komsky – guest vocalist

Sy Smith – guest vocalist


All of the above listed artists are masters at their instrument, but I cannot rave ever enough about Sy Smith. She is a shining being with an exquisite, powerful voice. She frequently tours with Chris Botti, but you can also check out her website for her other dates and live performances.


Chris Botti and his band have been touring non-stop for several years. I sometimes wonder how they manage to keep up such rhythm –  pun intended. After six sold-out shows in four days here in San Francisco, they are headed to the East Coast, hopefully avoiding the big snow storm that is coming very soon over there. The next three dates are set for Pittsburgh, PA, but you can find out the rest of the upcoming schedule here. Just make sure to purchase your tickets early, as his shows sell out quickly.

And if you are in New York over the Holidays, Chris Botti has been doing a two-week residency at the famous Blue Note for the past ten years. I am hoping to catch the next one.


Chris’ latest CD is Impressions, released in 2012 and available both as CD and digital download on his website (where you can also see the rest of his discography), iTunes, and Amazon.


I do not intend to fill this post further with more information about Chris Botti and his band, because you can easily find their personal and professional stories on their websites, as well as several articles about them over the internet. I just wanted to share about my personal experience and enjoyment of these musicians. I will, however, add one lesser known tidbit: Chris Botti attended Crescent Valley High School in Oregon with my friend Deanna, making the world just that little bit smaller.


I am sorry I do not have any better images to share at this time. I have had no chance to take professional portraits of Chris or his band as yet. But who knows what the future will bring. That would be fun!



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  • Liz01/26/2015 - 11:00 pm

    We were also sitting in that front row at Sunday’s performance. A fantastic, intimate venue in which to see Chris Botti and his incredible band. We had a perfect view…so close we could’ve reached out and touched the guitarist when he took a brief sit-down during one of the solos. Amazing! Beautiful and exciting performances by the entire band!ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz01/27/2015 - 3:55 pm

      Hi Liz, you must have been next to me then. I was the third seat in from the right, and it was Sunday afternoon. I also saw Ben Butler (the guitarist) take a rest on the step next to us. An absolutely amazing performance by these talented musicians.
      I really like this venue a lot as well, and plan to attend more live performances there, by Chris Botti & band of course, but also by other artists! 🙂ReplyCancel

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