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January/February 2004

Chris Botti
A Thousand Kisses Deep
Columbia Jazz

A smooth-jazz favorite and sought-after sideman whose impressive résumé includes extended stints in Paul Simon's and Sting's bands and on the Caroline Rhea Show, Chris Botti possesses a spare, nuanced trumpet voice that's informed by both jazz and pop music. On A Thousand Kisses Deep (Columbia), the Oregon-born musician adds new rhythmic elements to his trademark sound that complement his warm, evocative playing.

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Fabrizio Ferri

Chris Botti

Botti's rich-toned trumpet overlays a percolating groove on the catchy album opener, "Indian Summer," while the mesmerizing "Do It in Luxury" features a steady "ticking" rhythm that propels Botti's muted trumpet. On "Back Into My Heart," Botti's multitracked horns are set over a funky groove, and "She Comes From Somewhere" adds subtle electronica accents to offset the solemn melody. The album's title track is a cover of a Leonard Cohen song, and here Botti's mournful, beautiful performance is accompanied by Dean Park's melancholy plucked acoustic guitar.

A Thousand Kisses Deep also includes two piano and trumpet duets; Botti teams with pianist Billy Childs on "My Funny Valentine," and they present a deeply romantic rendition of this standard. Botti closes the album with the pretty, melodic "Love Gets Old," featuring album producer Steve Lindsey at the piano.

A Thousand Kisses Deep features two very different Burt Bacharach compositions. First, Botti takes on the chestnut "The Look of Love," and strings arranged by the legendary Mort Lindsey enhance his lovely, expressive interpretation. Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk turns in a strong vocal performance, but a singer is really not needed here; Botti's performance is sufficiently eloquent. Elsewhere on the album, Botti offers "The Last Three Minutes," a more recent Bacharach song and one the composer collaborated on with, of all people, hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, here credited under his real name, Andre Young. "The Last Three Minutes" combines a strong hip-hop groove with a spacious melody and dramatic string punctuation. It's a bit of a departure for Botti, and it demonstrates his willingness to venture beyond his well-known mellow zone into new musical territory.

Originally published in January/February 2004
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