Washington Performing Arts Produces an Electrifying Concert
Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti was born to entertain. A mesmerizing trumpet player, Botti can play hot and he can play smooth. Botti is also a storyteller who clearly loves interacting with his audience. His Washington Performing Arts concert last night was tight, eclectic, and exhilarating.
Not only is Botti arguably the top jazz trumpeter in America today, he also surrounds himself with the best musicians in the music industry – and proves himself a relaxed and generous band leader by giving each member of his band their moment in the spotlight. The joy this group shares in making music together after ten years on the road is evident and infectious, judging from the way they brought The Kennedy Center crowd at the Washington Performing Arts concert to their feet, not once but four times for spontaneous ovations during the course of the evening.
Flamenco Sketches, a highly improvised piece built on a framework of 5 static chords, highlighted the talent and intensity these musicians bring to their work. The fun was infectious as Botti on trumpet, Geoffrey Keezer on piano, Richie Goods on bass, and Billy Kilson on drums swapped leads and tempos and created magic in The Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Kilson showed himself to be a drummer without equal with a show stopping solo at the end of the show. Another highlight among highlights for me as a listener was Botti’s smooth and haunting duet with guitarist Ben Butler on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
Concert violinist Caroline Campbell will return to The Kennedy Center’s Milennium Stage June 21st – and metro area readers should flock to her solo concert! When Campbell plays, her violin tells stories, soaring and weaving a spell around the hall. Campbell and Botti opened the show with a fiery violin/trumpet duet on Sketches from Spain, and continued their glorious give and take with a sultry Love Themes from Cinema Paradiso and a soulful Emmanuel. Whenever Campbell and Botti joined forces, the Fahreheit rose in the concert hall. Campbell brought the crowd to its feet with a virtuoso solo performance that showed the full range of her skill.
Botti’s special guest vocalists included George Komsky, whose vocals on Italia were as rich and warm as merlot and sunlit Tuscan fields, and DC native Sy Smith, who blew the roof off the Concert Hall with her rendition of Burt Bacharach’s The Look of Love. In case you were wondering, it is possible for a human voice to perfectly replicate a trumpet call.
The unison scatting done by Smith and Botti was nothing short of phenomenal. One of my favorite songs of the night, The Very Thought of You, brought Botti and Smith into the audience for a sultry duet that morphed into a rock concert with hot guitar solos by Ben Butler and Richie Goods, as well as intense solos by Billy Kilson on drums and Geoffrey Keezer and Andy Erzin on piano and keyboards respectively. There is nothing this group of musicians can’t do.
Thursday’s concert at The Kennedy Center proved yet again why Chris Botti is one of the most talented and entertaining musicians on the concert circuit today. Here’s hoping that Washington Performing Arts will bring him back for another evening of electrifying music in 2015.
Washington Performing Arts Society: Chris Botti was performed on Thursday, May 23, 2014 at The Kennedy Center-2700 F Street, in Washington, DC. For future performances at Washington Performing Arts go to their Performance Calendar.