Chris Botti put on a tremendous show in Ozawa Hall, which was packed to the rafters with lawn patrons given refuge from the rain. Botti is a versatile trumpeter, playing plenty of straight ahead jazz but also pop, rock, and classical in this genre-agnostic show that featured two guests along with a very impressive band. He’s pretty loquacious, too, unlike his hero Miles Davis, whose LPs Kind of Blue and Sketches of Spain were the sources for two numbers that were highlights of tonight’s program. In addition to Botti’s own virtuosity, they showcased the brilliance of Brazilian guitarist Leonardo Amuedo. Everyone in the band had plenty of opportunities to display their artistry: Billy Childs on piano, Tim Lefebvre on acoustic and electric bass, Billy Kilson on drums, and Andy Ezrin on keyboards and sythensizer. (Lefebvre and Ezrin are Massachussetts natives.)
The special guests were Lisa Fischer, longtime vocalist with the Rolling Stones, and the young classical violinist Serena McKinney, each of whom added exciting and beautiful facets to the show (while wearing high heels that could pierce your heart!).
Botti is more engaged with his audience than any musician we’ve seen at Tanglewood, more so even than James Taylor and Garrison Keillor. Not only did he descend from the stage to play in the aisle, in a duet with Ms. Fischer, who sang The Very Thought of You while seated in the lap of a patron, but also he invited a young girl on stage to play drums on the final number, Nessun Dorma, the aria from the last act of Puccini’s Turandot.
In this celebratory 75th anniversary season at Tanglewood, the first in over a decade not to be followed by a Labor Day weekend jazz festival, jazz fans have not been overlooked! Even before the arrival of the BSO, there was Diana Krall in the Shed folowed the next night by the very jazzy Silk Road Ensemble with Yo Yo Ma in Ozawa Hall. Next up will be another Ozawa Hall jazz concert bill headlined by the Wynton Marsalis Quartet, with opening act Christian McBride Trio on Aug. 20, followed on Aug. 26 by the Chick Corea and Gary Burton Hot House Tour, with the Harlem String Quartet.