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Album Review

Chris Botti, 'Chris Botti in Boston'

March 30, 2009
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Jazz
Chris Botti Chris Botti in Boston
Columbia Records
ESSENTIAL "Glad to Be Unhappy"

The album title has a nice ring, and so does the collection - 13 sparkling tracks recorded last September at Symphony Hall during trumpeter Chris Botti's two-night residency with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Botti's range and good taste defy his chosen calling as an adult contemporary star, and this collection has a little something for everyone: serious jazz, popera, classical music, American songbook, and rock. The trumpeter brought in a crack ensemble and a smart selection of guests to help navigate the varied yet easily accessible terrain. John Mayer finds his inner crooner on a tender read of Rogers and Hart's "Glad to Be Unhappy," and "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee gets classy for "I've Got You Under My Skin." Steven Tyler struggles mightily to nail the sweet melancholy of the classic 1930s pop song "Smile," to no avail. The trumpeter's former employer, Sting, sings punchy renditions of his own songs, "Seven Days" and "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You," while Josh Groban and Yo Yo Ma also traverse familiar territory. And while the Pops get to shine from time to time on the handful of instrumentals, the spotlight is mainly trained on Botti's cool, lucid playing - a flagrant mismatch for Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," but a pristine voice on "Ave Maria" and "Flamenco Sketches." (Out tomorrow) JOAN ANDERMAN

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