Chris Botti

Slowing Down the World

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Those who heard Chris Botti playing live in the 1990s realized just how much he had going for him as a trumpeter -- not only an appealing sound (sort of a combination of Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, and Chuck Mangione) and sizable chops, but also a lot of warmth and charisma. Botti's studio recordings, meanwhile, were decent, even though they fell short of his potential. Like his previous efforts, Botti's third album, Slowing Down the World, consists primarily of mellow, light pop-jazz designed for the adult contemporary audience. This is unchallenging music, and yet it would be a major mistake to lump it in with the outright elevator muzak that Kenny G, Dave Koz, Najee, and Richard Elliot were known for. Caressing instrumentals like "Why Not" and "Irresistible Bliss" definitely fall into the easy listening category, but they're more soulful, honest, and substantial than a lot of 1990s adult contemporary fare. Although dominated by instrumentals, this CD offers a few vocals -- Sting has a pleasant, if unremarkable, spot on "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," while Botti himself provides an unexpected vocal on Randy Newman's "Same Girl." Clearly, Botti's singing owes as much to Baker as his trumpet playing -- like Baker, Botti doesn't have much of a voice, but is nonetheless expressive and intimate. Slowing Down the World is a pleasant collection of mood music, but make no mistake -- Botti is capable of a lot more.

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