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Chris Botti: Midnight Without You

Trumpeter Chris Botti’s compositions have an elegant lushness which is tuneful and purposeful, rather than merely atmospheric. This quality gives his excellent new release Midnight Without You (Verve Forecast 314 532 132-2; 46:69) more in common with alterna-art rockers like Bryan Ferry than with contemporary jazz compatriots who emphasize style and groove over substance. This is not to say that Botti’s writing lacks style: he explores a Ferry-like landscape of textures-the album’s title track, performed with The Blue Nile, is splashy and catchy, like a good Crowded House tune, while “Never Gone” takes on a wistful quality in its acoustic textures. Botti gets stellar support here not from the usual cast of c-jazz suspects, but from veterans drawn from the bands of Suzanne Vega, Lone Justice and Peter Gabriel. Their nuanced play on intriguing pieces like the rough rock-edged “When Rain Falls” lets Botti’s lead voice shine through-hollow and haunting on “Rain” and bursting at the seams on the hopping “Regroovable.” You could easily forget that Midnight is largely an instrumental album.

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