Chris Botti In Boston

Featured In Issue 140, May/June 2009

WSR Score5
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Sony Music
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Not Rated
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Color With B/W Sequences
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Jim Gable
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Dolby TrueHD 7.1, PCM 24/96 2.0
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Chris Botti In Boston is a magnificent concert recorded at Symphony Hall in Boston on September 18 and 19, 2008. Previous to this release, Chris Botti Live With Orchestra And Special Guests on Blu-ray Disc was reviewed in Issue 122 (July/August 2007). Symphony Hall is one of the most beautiful and acoustically perfect concert halls in the world. The concert features trumpet virtuoso Chris Botti with his quartet and special guests (in order of appearance) Sting, Dominic Miller, Josh Groban, Katharine McPhee, Yo-Yo Ma, Sy Smith, John Meyer, and Steven Tyler, backed by the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Keith Lockhart. Chris Botti's band is comprised of Billy Childs (piano), Billy Kilson (drums), Mark Whitfield (guitar), and Robert Hurst (bass). The performance was, according to Botti, " of the most magical and memorable nights of my life. (Gary Reber)

Special features include a making-of documentary (SD 24:16), which really captures the humanity and artistry of Chris Botti and his guests. Also Sting (vocal and lute), Yo-Yo Ma, Dominic Miller, Russ Irwin (keyboards), Billy Childs (piano), Robert Hurst (bass), and Botti perform "Fragile."

The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture quality is magnificent and captures this outstanding performance of Chris Botti with quartet and orchestra in the incredibly beautiful Boston Symphony Hall. Shot with nine high-definition cameras and directed by Jim Gable, the picture exhibits a warm natural appearance with perfectly balanced color hues and contrast. During the performance of Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches" the picture is presented in artistic black-and-white, which is a delight to see. The lighting design is fabulous and perfectly enhances the mood of each song, as well as the artistry of the performers. At times, when the camera scans the audience, the spotlight beam exposes the thick audience air in the hall, which subtlety beautifies and softens the picture. The resolution is magnificent, exhibiting fine facial features and textures of instruments and clothing. Blacks are nicely defined and deep, and variations in grays and shadows are nicely delineated. The occasional pan over the orchestra from the back reveals the striking, colorful lighting reflected on the sheets of music contrasted by the silhouette shadings of the audience in the shadows. This is a fabulous visual treat that perfectly captures the emotion and energy of musicians at the top of their artistry in one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby® TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is fabulous. This is a perfect presentation to demonstrate the superior delivery of lossless multichannel audio versus two-channel stereo linear PCM. The recording of the soloists is executed perfectly, using primarily phantom center imaging with a bit of signal in the discrete center channel to lock the image at the center. The holosonic® soundfield puts you in the concert hall at the pinnacle of the sweet spot listening experience. The added 90-degree side channels, combined with the 60-degree rear surround segment, captures the dimensional space of the hall and the surrounding audience energy. There is even a sense of balcony height and phantom center back surround. The performance is focused squarely within the frontal soundstage and exhibits an exciting "live in person" presence. The sound exhibits exceptional width and depth, with the large orchestral sounds of the Boston Pops Orchestra backing Chris Botti's superb group of musicians, guest singers, and instrumentalists. His incredibly gorgeous and expressive tone and artistry is beautifully captured on this live recording. Sting sings the first tune, "Seven Days," followed by Josh Groban singing "Broken Vow." Both are fabulous performers, and their voices are captured beautifully. The performance by Katharine McPhee is stunning, with her knockout swinging rendition of "I've Got You Under My Skin!" Two other magnificent performances are by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Lucia Micarelli, revealing the most delicate instrumental timbres. "The Look Of Love" is sung with incredible soul and vibrance by Sy Smith. The rendition of the Frank Sinatra classic "Glad To Be Unhappy" by John Mayer is moving and beautifully arranged with an orchestral string section background and a touching trumpet solo by Chris Botti. Steven Tyler is a pleasant surprise, singing an emotional "Smile," which he dedicates to his father who is sitting in the front row. Billy Kilson is a killer drummer who showcases immense talent for drive, finesse, and technique. His bass drum delivers a solid foundation in the .1 LFE channel, complemented by Robert Hurst on upright bass and bass guitar. Also featured is long-time Sting guitarist Dominic Miller. And what a performance by all three on an encore song "Shape Of My Heart." Sting is left of stage and Groban right, with Miller center. The recording captures this spatial perspective perfectly, with Botti's trumpet center stage. Sting and Botti bring down the house with the closing "If I Ever Lose My Faith In You." Throughout, Billy Childs' acoustic piano lays down the chords, and Mark Whitfield's electric guitar ignites the rhythm section. This is a fabulous acoustic concert that is beautifully recorded in 7.1 channels by Master Audio Recordist Al Schmitt. You won't be disappointed! (Gary Reber)