Sacramento Live: Chris Botti’s not just a pretty face

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 - 7:36 pm

Trumpeter Chris Botti may just appear to be a nice-looking guy toting a horn, but there’s more substance to his music than the slick pinup pictures imply.

Yes, Botti looks good in a tailored European suit (so did Miles Davis), and he studiously works the pop side of instrumental music (late in his career Davis did, as well) but Botti has a player’s chops and background. While in college at Indiana University, Botti used grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to study with jazz masters, trumpeter Woody Shaw and saxophonist George Coleman. Botti’s college roommate was Sacramento-area jazz pianist Joe Gilman. Botti has shared stages and or recorded with artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, Steven Tyler, Burt Bacharach, Barbra Streisand and Jill Scott. But he credits two stints with Sting as a turning point in his career, which allowed him to become the multifaceted frontman he is today.

The Grammy winner’s latest album “Impressions,” from April 2012, went to No. 1 on Billboard’s jazz charts and included guest artists Andrea Bocelli, Vince Gill and Mark Knopfler. The musical variety includes Prelude No. 20 in C minor by Frédéric Chopin and the ballad “You Are Not Alone,” written by the R&B singer-songwriter R. Kelly and recorded by Michael Jackson. Works by Ástor Piazzola, Randy Newman and a duet with Herbie Hancock also appear on the record.

Botti always carries some jazz heavyweights in his band; the current stellar group includes Billy Kilson on drums, Geoffrey Keezer on piano, Richie Goods on bass and Leonardo Amuedo on guitar.

Botti and his band perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Red Lion Hotel Woodlake, Sacramento, 500 Leisure Lane, Sacramento. Tickets are limited; call (916) 208-8425 or go to .

Family night

The American family takes center stage as the B Street Theatre bites off a big chunk of modern realism with playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s latest drama “Other Desert Cities.” The play was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Its title refers to freeway signs leading into Palm Springs, where the Wyeth clan hides away. David Silberman’s Lyman and Joan Grant’s Polly, his wife, are former good friends of the Reagans (Ron and Nancy) who shun the Los Angeles limelight. When their writer daughter, Brooke (Dana Brooke) comes for Christmas bearing her new memoir telling family secrets, it’s on like Donkey Kong. Director David Pierini’s ensemble also includes Mike DiSalvo as son Trip and Stephanie McVay as Polly’s sister Silda.

The new production previews at 5 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. It opens at 7 p.m Sunday and runs through Sept. 29. At the B Street Theatre Mainstage, 2711 B St., Sacramento, 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays; 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $23 to 35. $5 for student rush, $15 for previews. For information, call (916) 443-5300 or go to .

We all want to change the world

Playwright’s Revolution, Capital Stage’s annual summer new-play reading series, airs out two new works today and Saturday.

The actors have scripts in hand as they move around. The writers take notes on what works and what doesn’t. Ben Ismail directs Andrew Kramer’s “Crying for Lions” at 8 p.m. today Stephanie Gularte directs “THE POWER PLAY, or Smart Bombs & Other Sexy Toys” by Susan Kathryn Hefti at 8 p.m. Saturday. Capital Stage, 2215 J St., Sacramento. Tickets are $10 to $12. For information call (916) 995-5464 or go to

Read more articles by Marcus Crowder

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