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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Jazz > Pop > Soul > Standards > Soundtrack Music > Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests (Blu-ray)

Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests (Blu-ray)


Picture: C+     Sound: B+     Extras: C+     Concert: B-



Chris Botti is fast rising as one of the greatest trumpeters of his generation and potentially one of the most commercially successful in the history of the music business.  Even if you have not heard his work, it does not take long to see why in the new Blu-ray concert release Chris Botti Live with Orchestra & Special Guests from December 2005.  Also broadcast on TV, this version is expanded with higher definition performance, though with limits.


The concert is good on a musicianship level and that consistency is a big plus.  It is some of the songs covered that I had issues with.  The selections include:


1)     Someone To Watch Over Me

2)     When I Fall in Love

3)     A Thousand Kisses Deep

4)     What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life? (with Sting)

5)     Good Morning Heartache (with Jill Scott)

6)     My One & Only (with Paula Cole & Burt Bacharach)

7)     The Look Of Love (with Paula Cole & Burt Bacharach)

8)     Cinema Paradiso

9)     Pennies From Heaven (with Renee Olstead)

10)  Are You Lonesome Tonight? (with Paul Buchanan)

11)  Lover Man (with Gladys Knight)

12)  Why Not?

13)  My Funny Valentine (with Sting)

14)  One For My Baby

15)  Bows (Credits)



With the music business clueless these days in how to promote their best artists, then scratch their heads on why the albums are not doing the business they deserve, this is often the first exposure many will get to these vocalists, let alone Botti.  Sting is a veteran, but his covers just fall flat in this case.  Gladys Knight on the other hand can do no wrong and still has her great voice here.  Renee Olstead’s cover of the Depression classic is not bad, but still has me thinking on it.  Jill Scott is so talented and her cover of the Billie Holiday classic is decent and more jazz-like than the hit Diana Ross version from Lady Sings The Blues, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  That leaves the Cole/Bacharach tracks.  Only works fine, but The Look Of Love (from the soundtrack to the 1967 Casino Royale that Bacharach made a much loved, imitated and admired soundtrack for) is a tougher song to pull off and it was on the flat side despite Cole’s decent voice.


But Botti is the star overall and for those sick of Kenny G, (or who simply never liked him) here is an instrumentalist who has more edge to his work.  Though the guests make this an event show, Botti more than holds his own, exceeding the show’s overall limits.



Setting a record for most machines used to check one disc, I am sad to report that the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is weak, problematic and very odd, as if someone was trying to maybe take 1080i and upgrade it when they did not need to.  Long shots are more of a problem than close ones, but this is not much better than a standard DVD and some of the results here have a strange, strained phony look to them.  The sound is the opposite, which is the highlight of this disc as the PCM 96/24 5.1 mix is terrific, audiophile quality and has more than a few fine sonic moments.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is lame by comparison.


It reminded me of DVD-Audio discs when the sound was good while stills or video footage was softer than a new format should have been.  That is justification enough to get this disc if you love the music.  Extras include five segments, including Sting performing the Police classic Message In A Bottle with introduction, One For My Baby performance also not seen on TV, piece on the musicians, interview with Botti and a behind the scenes featurette.  Despite the picture issues, this is one of the more interesting Sony/BMG Blu-ray releases we have seen and hope the concerts keep on coming.  Some classic concerts and other classic footage (like Music Videos) would be nice, but until then, don’t miss this disc.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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