Jazzing it up: Chris Botti set to perform Saturday in Merrillville

2013-10-17T23:30:00Z 2013-10-18T14:01:07Z Jazzing it up: Chris Botti set to perform Saturday in MerrillvilleEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

As musicians go, Chris Botti stands in a class of his own.

The Grammy-winning trumpeter who easily infuses his performances with a combination of cool, suave, jazzy and contemporary sounds, will bring his show to Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville on Saturday.

And Botti is no stranger to the Hoosier and Chicagoland areas of the country.

"I went to college in Bloomington, Indiana," Botti said about his time as a music student at Indiana University in the 1980s when he studied under jazz educator David Baker and well-known trumpet teacher Bill Adam. "I've had a long history in the Midwest."

Botti, a native of Oregon, said Chicago area and Hoosier fans have been some of his most loyal admirers. "We always love playing there," he said. He's previously performed many concerts through the years in the area, including a show in 2008 at The Venue at Hammond's Horseshoe Casino and a concert in 2010 at The Chicago Theatre.

The musician and his band travel the country extensively, sometimes performing about 300 dates a year. He said his band is comprised of a "cast of characters," who are musicians with talents in diverse genres.

"It's a combination of rock, classical, jazz and pop musicians," he said, adding that's almost become a trademark of his to surround himself with eclectic artists with an ability to go from one genre to another.

Botti, who's currently touring in support of his latest album "Impressions," released in 2012, will perform a variety of contemporary tunes and classic standards during his Star Plaza Theatre concert.

The album "Impressions," which won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album this year, features collaborations with artists such as Vince Gill, Andrea Bocelli, Herbie Hancock and others. Among tunes on the album are "You Are Not Alone," "Tango Suite," "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World."

About his collaborations with countless artists through the years, Botti said, he's enjoyed the musical projects he's worked on with others.

"There's an inherent kind of respect for your peers. When you work with other people and they're sharing the stage with you, they respect you and you respect them," he said. Working with artists from various genres, he added, is also "a great avenue to reach many people."

Throughout his career, Botti has shared the stage with everyone from Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra to Steven Tyler, Sting, Josh Groban, Paul Simon and others.

When Botti picks out records to listen to on a personal level, he said his heart "always goes back to the same few songs." He has a few Frank Sinatra records, Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett tunes that are old standbys.

The trumpeter said he calls Steven Tyler, who's a "great guy and great musician," a friend. Sting is also a friend.

According to Botti, his success in the music field since coming into the public consciousness in the early 2000s, has pretty much escalated by nontraditional means.

"I have an audience, but I don't have a hit. I really have an audience based on word of mouth," he said, recalling a time a few years ago in San Francisco when he performed for an audience of maybe four people.

Botti's shows always have their share of tunes from The Great American Songbook, standards which he enjoys performing.

"The melodies are timeless and they're just good," he said.

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