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Volume 34
Issue 04
 
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Where It's At
Chris Botti jazzes up the Moore, Shemekia Copeland brings soul to Jazz Alley
by Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writer

Chris Botti

Sunday, January 29, 8:00 p.m.

Moore Theatre - Tickets at www.ticketmaster.com / $35-45


I know when I fell in love with Chris Botti. It was on the erstwhile Caroline Rhea Show. Not the one otherwise known as The Biggest Loser, silly. Her talk show; the one that took Rosie O'Donnell's spot when Rosie decided TV was too small but Broadway was just right. But that's another story. Botti was Rhea's hetero version of John McDaniel, and while their flirty repartee was slightly nauseating, the twinkle in Botti's blue eyes proved he was an adorable rascal.

Oh, who am I kidding? Botti is so easy on the eyes, everyone I know wished she (or he) could be Caroline, standing next to him in the studio. You know, so you warm up your fingers, smoothing over his & velvet blazer.

Turns out he's easy on the ears, too. With 2004's When I Fall In Love, the Grammy-nominated trumpeter dropped the synthesizers and drum loops of his earlier smooth jazz works, experimenting instead with well-orchestrated standards and straight-ahead jazz improv. 2005's To Love Again solidified the deal with a luscious combination of solos and duets. Consequently, Botti was Billboard's number 2 top jazz artist of 2005; When I Fall In Love was the number 2 jazz album of the year, while the recently released To Love Again climbed quickly to number 5. Nowadays, "smooth" is a word used to describe Botti's stage repartee, not his sound.

Originally from Oregon, Botti played with Paul Simon's band for five years in the 90's before joining Sting's Brand New Day tour in 1999 as a featured soloist. His touring band includes Billy Kilson (drums), Jon Ossman (bass), Marc Whitfield (guitar), Billy Childs (piano), Andy Ezrin (piano) and Jeanne Jolly (vocals). - L. Quenzer

Pre-concert CD recommendation: To Love Again: The Duets, featuring "Embraceable You," "Let There Be Love" featuring Michael Bublé, and "Pennies From Heaven" featuring Renee Olstead. Make sure you pick up the DualDisc version for the behind-the-scenes footage.

Shemekia Copeland

Thursday, February 2 - Sunday, February 5

Dimitriou's Jazz Alley- For reservations and set times call (206) 441-9725 / $23.50


Blues diva Shemekia Copeland is, at the tender age of 26, a force to be reckoned with. CNN recently called her "a legend in the making," while rock legend Robert Plant said that she's "the next Tina Turner." I first caught her in the blues concert film Lightning in a Bottle, where she held her own alongside blues greats like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Ruth Brown, and up-and-comers like Keb' Mo'. Touring in support of her latest album, The Soul Truth, Copeland brings her funky, powerful sound to Dimitriou's Jazz Alley.

Mature beyond her years, Copeland toured with her father, the renowned Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, appearing on stage at Harlem's Cotton Club when she was just eight years old; she made a splash with her debut album a mere ten years later (1997's Turn the Heat Up!). Her second album, Wicked, earned her two W.C. Handy Blues awards for 2000: Song of the Year, Blues Album of the Year and Contemporary Blues Female Artist. Since then Copeland has earned the blues female artist title three more times, and her 2003 album Talking to Strangers won that year's Handy for best blues album.

The Soul Truth is a slight departure from her bluesier fare, but it's no less exciting. Her vocals are gritty and passionate, playful and earthy. Copeland's band members include Arthur Neilson (guitar), Damon Duewhite (drums), Jeremy Baum (keyboards) and Kevin Jenkins (bass). Treat yourself to a hot toddy and desert - I'm fond of Jazz Alley's coffee monk and bread pudding - or do yourself a favor and indulge in a complete dinner. You can check out their menu at www.jazzalley.com. - L. Quenzer

Pre-concert CD recommendation: The Soul Truth, featuring "You Can't Have That," "Honey Do that Voo-Doo," and "Something Heavy."

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