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"Listening to that album, I discovered how exciting live performances could be," he says.By the time he was in his early 20s, Botti had already played with such jazz icons as Woody Shaw. He moved there in 1985 and found that the city had already fallen completely under the spell of another Young Turk trumpeter.
The occasion was a state dinner honoring the president of China, and Botti was asked to join Hancock in a performance of "My Funny Valentine." Davis' recording of that song had convinced Botti 36 years earlier to become a jazz musician.And what musician wouldn't want to be associated with Botti?After all, the guy was routinely making People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People edition."None other than Herbie Hancock asked me how I wanted to play 'My Funny Valentine,' " Botti says gleefully. I want to play it like Davis.' " The performance went so well that Botti's producer, Bobby Colomby, suggested Hancock appear on the trumpeter's new album, Impressions.Botti spent an afternoon improvising at Hancock's house, and together they produced a sensuous and mellifluous tune called "Tango Suite," which appears on the album.They don't teach you that stuff in music school, but I learned it from Paul Simon." Simon taught Botti how to be a musician.
Sting guided him through the delicate process of becoming a celebrity.
And he was dating beautiful, famous women, such as CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
Naturally, the most high-profile gigs came with the fame. That's when the White House asked him to perform for then-President George W. None of Botti' celebrity friends liked Bush, and all of them were giving him grief about his scheduled concert.
"I moved to New York at exactly the time Wynton Marsalis exploded onto the scene," says Botti, whose sense of awe and envy of the New Orleans phenom remains undiminished after nearly three decades.
"I knew there was no way I was ever going to be able to compete with him as a straight-ahead jazz player. He began recording with the likes of Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Thomas Dolby. His big break finally came in 1990, when Paul Simon took him on the road.
Like other Botti recordings, Impressions features a parade of guest stars.