After lockdown, Botti ready for the road

Published on September 15th, 2021

By Jim Dail

The show has always been the lifeblood of trumpeter Chris Botti’s career. Naturally, the pandemic certainly made that a bit of a problem.

“Pretty much I would say that’s an understatement,” laughed Botti, who will perform Saturday at Thornton Winery as part of the 2021 Champagne Jazz Concert Series. “The isolation was a trippy thing for the whole world. For a guy used to being on the road so much and then to go on lockdown was life-changing.”

His career has featured a Grammy award, five nominations and four Billboard Jazz Albums chart-toppers. He has also been a big-time concert performer, traveling all over the world and selling out at every stop.

“It is interesting to go from not traveling and gearing up to play to nothing,” he said. “As you know I practice a lot [4-5 hours a week], and I did not get tired of practicing, but over-practicing, so I am happy to be on the road.”

There had been talk at one point of making a new album, but the shutdown stopped that in its tracks, for the most part.

“Everything shut down after March 13 when everything went into lockdown,” he said. “I still don’t think it’s back to where the studios are fully open.”

Botti is not the kind of player who will go live online or record virtually.  

“I’m not a musician who is going to do Zoom concerts,” he said. “I did not do interviews online or anything. I made a conscious decision, and we learned every day what was and what is going to be a reality.”

It was a wait-and-see endeavor for him.

“I thought to myself, it’s time to sit back and let people involved in medicine work it out and not be all over the internet,” he said. “I’m not a social media guy, so I took a step back.”

Some artists recorded albums and did concerts on the Web, and Botti liked some of them.

“I’m not the kind of artist to email records, send tracks to people and I admire what people have done but it is not for me,” he said. “I need to be in a room with other musicians.”

For Botti, it is still all about the energy.

“Since I’ve been a kid, my life has been so insular and all of a sudden you make music where you are an engineer,” he said. “That’s not my style. So, I always thought Miles or Frank would sit down and drink martinis until it was time to go back to work. For me, it is all about that early energy.”

For anyone who has gone to a Botti show, that is very clear. The sheer pent-up energy from both he audience and musicians is quite high.

“For me, an audience participant spends 95 percent of their ticket price in the first lead up to the show and the first five minutes driving to show sitting down and all,” he said.  “Then the lights go down, the band comes out and in first ten minutes, because you prepared to go to a venue to be present to see the artist, it does something chemically to your brain. It’s a different kind of presence because everyone is present and locked in at that moment.”

If it was all online, that might not happen.

“We have seen how social media makes people insecure, and doesn’t make us very present,” he said. “The older I get, the more I want to enjoy that stage. So, until the studios open where we can all be shaking hands and not having to be tested constantly, I will wait on a new record.”

That’s not to say necessarily that there will be a huge wait.

“We kind of got things mapped out but to execute it I want the full studio experience,” he said.

It has given him time to play around a little with the performances and set lists, but he remains pretty much the same as always.

“We’ve done a shift in some stuff,” he said. “If you look at someone like Miles, the shift is an iceberg. We did a little reboot about four months before the pandemic and added a couple new players and stuff like that. It’s hard for me to know how it is going to come down.”

But, Botti and the band are back and are performing now and it looks like the same energy, feel and excitement.

“Last night was the first show of the tour,” he said. “We did Central Park in June and one show in Ukraine and Poland previously. It is a whole other muscle and playing in front of an audience after all this time it feels like I just did my first boot camp yoga class after not working out in 7 years!”

And the reaction?

“I was shocked last night, and it was sold out and people were sold out and so excited,” he said. “I think people are starved for music and starved to go out and be with other people.”



When:  7 p.m., Saturday Sept. 18

Where: Thornton Winery, Temecula

General admission: $105 (sold out)

Gourmet Supper: $195 (sold out)

Information: Call 951-699-3021 or visit Website,


Comment guidelines, edit this message in your Wordpress admin panel