If you were at the Beacon Theatre this past Tuesday evening, you would have witnessed a majestic evening of music featuring artists from all around the world, and boy, what a show it was. A few moments after eight, the lights dimmed and onto the stage came this dark silhouette of none other than jazz-extraordinaire Chris Botti.
Botti, who grew up in Portland, Oregon, has evolved on the jazz scene as one of the staples in the industry. After touring the world for the better part of eight years, Botti and his band are truly coming together as one of the most well-received jazz groups in the music scene.
Tuesday night however, was much more than any ordinary jazz show. Botti’s band features Geoffrey Keezer and Billy Childs on piano/keyboards, Leonardo Amuedo on guitar, Billy Kilson on drums, and Tim Lefebvre on bass. This show also featured special guests Lisa Fischer of the Rolling Stones on vocals, and Caroline Campbell on violin.
Although Botti has released 14 albums thus far in his career, he doesn’t limit his shows to performances of his own music. Tuesday night he, along with his band, serenaded the crowd with electrifying versions of “Flamenco Sketches” by Miles Davis and Bill Evans, “You Are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson, “Emmanuel” by Michel Colombier, “The Look of Love” by Burt Bacharach, “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets” by Sting, “Italia” by the legendary Andrea Bocelli, and “How Can I Ease the Pain” by Lisa Fischer, with a few other ballads. The highlight for us was when Botti came out and played an instrumental version of the famous Leonard Cohen tune, “Hallelujah.”
Towards the end of the evening, Chris began to discuss the history of the group and how he and drummer Billy Kilson came to play together. In 1999, Botti joined Sting’s band, replacing the great Branford Marsalis. In 2001, he left Sting’s group to focus on his solo career. However, in 2004, Sting asked Chris to open for him on a 4 month tour which gave Chris his big break. He asked Kilson to join the group on tour, who at first was hesitant because of the recent birth of his child, however he agreed and joined Chris on the road. As Chris was telling this story, he told the crowd that Billy, who grew up in Washington D.C., was a huge Knicks fan. His name is actually Billy Earl Kilson, named after the legendary Knicks guard Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Knowing this, Chris invited Earl to the concert on Tuesday and invited him on stage to not only meet Billy for the first time, but also to sit in on the drums for a song. Seeing the look on Billy’s face when he realized who was in the crowd was one of the best moments of the evening.
Chris Botti’s latest album, Impressions, is out in stores around the world, as the band continues their tour in support of it. We were lucky enough to meet Chris, along with the rest of the band after the show to thank them for a wonderful evening of music.
We even got to meet the legendary Earl “The Pearl” Monroe of the New York Knicks!