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Laramie Movie Scope:
Chris Botti and Friends Live in Concert

Chris Botti in a jazzy concert with Sting, Shawn Colvin and Jason Rebello

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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August 5, 2002, updated October 8, 2002 -- A new music DVD is coming out this week and I got a sneak preview of it. It is called "Chris Botti and Friends Night Sessions: Live in Concert." It features two performances by Sting and two more by Shawn Colvin. One song features keyboard artist Jason Rebello. The performance of 14 songs was taped live at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles in December, 2001 for broadcast and will be released on DVD on August 6, 2002.

Botti toured with Sting for two years and the two are friends. Botti, Sting and other musicians had been getting together late at night for these sessions for several weeks, working on a CD before the taping of this live concert special. Part of the reason for the late hour of the sessions was that some of the musicians were traveling to the sessions from England. One would think that would be reason enough to call this DVD night sessions, but Botti says in an interview on the DVD that Night Sessions is romantic music to shag to. On Botti's web site (linked below), there is another explanation. Night Sessions was recorded in a rented house. There was construction going on next door. The sessions were held at night because of construction noise during the day time. Botti likes soft, romantic music and his signature trumpet style is soft. He wants people to know the trumpet does not have to sound brassy, no matter what metal it is made of. His favorite numbers on the set are the intimate, romantic ones.

Sting highlights two songs on the DVD, "In the Wee Small Hours" and "Moon Over Bourbon Street." His performance is smooth, powerful and assured. He stays well within himself and he doesn't try to take over the show. He stays out of the spotlight when Botti is performing. Sting turns out to be a real team player. He hams it up a bit when Botti sustains a single note for an extended period of time. He also does a little bit of Louis Armstrong-style raspy singing. Shawn Colvin sings a song composed by Sting, "All Would Envy," and her own composition, "The Facts About Jimmy." My favorite number on the DVD is "Why Not." It features a lively piano solo by Jason Rebello. He gets into an almost rocking groove with drummer Karen Teperberg and bass player Jon Ossman. That's right, the drummer is a woman, and she is very good. It is rare to see a woman drummer, but in a jazz band, that is really unusual.

Other numbers on the DVD include "Lisa," "Streets Ahead," "Miami Overnight," "Regroovable," "Easter Parade," "Steps of Positano" and "Blue Horizon." There is also an audio-only number, "Through an Open Window." Images of the session cover the stage well from a number of angles. There are some nice Stedicam (TR) shots taken by Paul Sommers. Director of photography for the concert session was Ross Richardson. Botti's music is said to be neither rock nor jazz. It sure isn't rock and roll, although it comes close at times. It sounds pretty much like jazz to me, but Botti himself refers to his music as instrumental pop because it is often woven around melodies and songs. What, there are no jazz singers? The livelier tunes may have more of a beat than some jazz, but so did the music of the Ramsey Lewis Trio. I think these hair-splitting distinctions are best left to those who feel the urge to make them. However you want to classify Botti's music, it is very easy to listen to. This DVD rates a B.

The DVD has some nice bonus features including brief interviews with Botti, Sting and Colvin (one of the interviews is called a "video profile of Chris Botti"). There is a photo gallery of Botti from the CD cover photo session, a Botti biography and session selections. Available soundtracks include PCM stereo and 5.1 Dolby (TM) Surround. My audiophile consultant, Lynn Hamblin, said he got the best sound on his stereo system from the PCM stereo track of the DVD. He said PCM is similar to CD sound quality. Neither of us has a surround sound setup to check out the other sound channels. According to the DVD cover, a super audio CD of Night Sessions is also available. The session video appears in a 4:3 letterbox format.

For more information on this film, including news, (bio, fan section), A/V (Quicktime file of a Botti studio session, photos and audio clips), contact and touring information, FAQ (more links to Botti sites) music (discography), bulletin boards and information on his latest CDs (his latest is a Christmas CD called December), click on this link to the official home page of Chris Botti at Columbia Records.

Click here for links to places to buy this DVD, CD, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2002 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)