On Sept. 25, the Staller Center welcomed Grammy-winning trumpet player Chris Botti to its stage — the first major performance it has showcased since the beginning of the pandemic.
While some restrictions were still in place, they did not stop jazz-goers from seeing a live concert for the first time in over a year. Before entering the auditorium, audience members showed their tickets and proof of vaccinations — required for entry. Audience members were also required to keep their masks on for the duration of the show.
After everyone was seated, Chris Botti arrived on stage.
He was followed on by his bassist, drummer, pianist and violinist. The violinist, Caroline Campbell, started off the song, Botti came in to pick up the tempo, and the rest of the band followed. Their lively and passionate energy was clear from the start. The drummer, Lee Pearson, was right away the most playful performer.
The performance flowed vibrantly as Botti’s animated playing engaged the audience throughout the whole show. After they concluded their first song, Chris Botti approached the mic and introduced himself and the band. He explained the reason he became inspired to learn how to play the trumpet: watching Doc Severinsen on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” The suave Botti then headed back to his trumpet, took off his blazer and continued his set. His confident persona — along with his animated excitement for his music — captivated the audience throughout the whole show.
All through the night, Botti played originals like “Emmanuel” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” as well as covers like “Hallelujah” and “Shining Star.” Botti was able to showcase a balance between soulfulness and swing. The blend of genres did not stop at the diverse amount of jazz; Botti brought opera and funk to the stage as well. He closed the night by bringing out someone he claims to have discovered, singer Veronica Swift who brought down the house with her bebop tune and vibrant energy.
Overall, Chris Botti’s concert brought color and life back to the Staller Center stage after over a year that can only be described as grey.