botti

Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti will perform with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra on Friday, March 15

"How are things in Baton Rouge?"

The question isn't asked to be polite. Chris Botti means it, even while suffering jet lag from a late February, early March trip to Japan, China and Taiwan.

He may be groggy, but he's already looking forward to another plane trip to Louisiana's capital city to perform with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra.

The Grammy Award-winning trumpeter will make his third appearance with the orchestra on Friday, March 15, in the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Great Performers in Concert series. The concert starts at 8 p.m. at the Raising Cane's River Center Arena.

"I love coming to Baton Rouge," Botti said. "I love the symphony there, and I love working with Tim Muffitt."

That's saying a lot for a Grammy Award-winning trumpeter who has performed with the likes of Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, and, yes, Frank Sinatra.

Botti will be accompanied by his small band of instrumentalists and singers, all combining with the symphony to create what he calls the "live experience."

"There's a difference between my recordings and my live music," he said. "They have to be different. The live performances have to be something more, a roller coaster of a ride, and the talented musicians in my band add to that. We never want the audience to leave bored."

Botti's audiences on his latest tour of Asia certainly weren't bored. They were hungry for jazz and classical music, so much so that they sold out the venues in which he performed.

"The response for this genre in Asia is huge," he said. "Jazz and classical are weird allies, but the audiences love it, and we had a ton of fun playing it for them."

The fun actually began for audiences throughout the world after the 2004 release of Botti's CD, "When I Fall In Love," which led to his status as the largest-selling American instrumental artist.

He has since recorded four albums that jumped to the top of the jazz charts, all scoring gold and platinum.

Botti recorded his latest album, "Impressions," in 2012, winning a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, and although music distribution has changed in the world of digital music services, another album is on the way.

"You think about record making, and you wonder what the point would be when we have services like Spotify?" Botti asked. "It makes you ask if you should produce a CD at all. But with all that said, yes, I am working on a new album."

The album would mark his 15th in a career that began at age 9 in his hometown in Corvallis, Oregon. That's when he fell in love with the trumpet after hearing a recording of Miles Davis play "My Funny Valentine."

Botti made his first Carnegie Hall appearance in 1981 as a member of McDonald's All American High School Jazz Band, then convinced his high school to allow him to finish his senior year at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, Oregon.

The scenario was perfect for an aspiring jazz man: He could study with Larry McVey, whose band was a noted proving ground in jazz circles, while playing Portland's clubs in the evening.

From there it was to Indiana University's prestigious Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, from which Botti would forgo graduation for tours with Sinatra and legendary drummer Buddy Rich.

The trumpeter then moved to New York to develop his career as a studio musician. He began recording and touring in 1990 with Paul Simon, who opened collaboration doors with other musicians.

Now Botti holds his own in the music world, but he doesn't take this status for granted. He quickly credits his fans for his path to success, especially in a time ruled by social media.

"This is a time when exit reviews go out immediately through something called Twitter," Botti said. "These aren't reviews by critics but people saying what they think on social media. It's grassroots, and it's cool, because it's being spread word-of-mouth."

As for his own social media presence, there are official Twitter and Facebook accounts for Botti, but he doesn't maintain them.

"I've never been on either Twitter or Facebook, and I don't get on the internet," he said.

And if he did, he might not be able to play a concert. Why? A wind musician's embouchure, or mouth muscles, can lose strength without a daily workout. At age 56, Botti's practice time is more intense.

"The music part comes after the physical part, and I spend four hours practicing every day," he said. "And the older you get, the more you have to work. If I were to take two days off, I wouldn't be able to play."

Which would be bad news not only for Botti but also for Baton Rougeans.


Chris Botti

With the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra

8 p.m. Friday, March 15

Raising Cane's River Center, 275 S. River Road

$37-$175

brso.org; chrisbotti.com


Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.