Chris Botti is harder to pin down than you might expect. Sure, the trumpeter, contemporary-jazz star and A-list pop accompanist courts mass audiences with his direct melodic approach and matinee-idol good looks. And he’s the only jazz musician of any sort to appear on The Young and the Restless, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, QVC and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show–all in the last few months, by the way. (He opened that last splashy event in a lone spotlight, finessing “Embraceable You.”)
But Botti is considerably more than a pretty face. Although he’s known as a smooth-jazz artist and a member of the Sting entourage, his greatest success has come from recent albums of (mostly) songbook standards. Last year’s When I Fall in Love (Columbia), which featured fairly sophisticated interpretations, was certified gold by the RIAA. (An appearance on Oprah had something to do with it.) His recent follow-up, helpfully titled To Love Again, debuted in the Billboard Top 20. The album features the London Session Orchestra and luminous arrangements by Gil Goldstein and Billy Childs.