Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Please don't continue to ask me about Chris Botti...

That's what I say to the record promoter. Or perhaps what I should be saying instead of nodding my head in zombie fashion, the telephone receiver glued to the left side of my face, my eyes staring off into the nothingness that is my office. They want us to play Chris' new cd "To Love Again: The Duets". I have nothing against Chris personally or musically. We played a couple of his tracks from his last record, there was one with a nice Billy Childs arrangement that was almost Gil Evans-esque, I liked it, and Chris got some (a little bit) of blowing room. Chris is a talented musician, and apparently is applying the lessons learned from his "smooth" "jazz" work to a more "straight ahead" approach, on this, his second album of standards.

But this new record is not like that last one. Or rather, it loses virtually all of the things that made the last one worth playing here or there for reall jazz radio. It has all the polish and then some of the previous record, more guest stars including Sting, Jill Scott, Paula Cole, and ugh, Steven Tyler. But I don't hear the jazz in it. Not even a little bit. The record promoter goes on to tell me about all the other "jazz" stations that are playing it, and that he thinks that "Pennies from Heaven" from Renee Olestad is a keeper track, and that it might work for us. I suppose if your idea of jazz means that any performance of a "standard" by an instrumentalist = jazz, well, I know there are radio people who think that. First, the record doesn't swing - it's lush, orchestral, which by itself doesn't mean anything. But perhaps more importantly, I hear Botti play the head of say "Embraceable You" and boom - that's it. No solo, maybe a little hint here or there at taking some liberties with the melody, but it's not jazz to me. No improvisation. No jazz feeling. I'm not saying that makes it BAD. Just that it doesn't belong on JAZZ radio. But the promoter will keep asking me about it I'm sure, and I will keep telling him, "I've listened to it and it's not working for me." I admire these promoters. I wouldn't be able to do their job.


Blogger Taxi Driver said...

You're right...! And thank YOU for doing your job...!

AND... "all the other "jazz" stations that are playing it" ... what the hell is he trying dto do .. scare you (in a kindergarden way) to play it .. totally stupid!!

6:15 PM  
Blogger Joe M said...

Well, he's just doing his job, it's not a high pressure thing. But I already told him the week before it wasn't going to work for us, and explained exactly why it wasn't going to. Promoters routinely tell radio programmers what other stations are playing, if for no other reason than to make you listen to it again.

7:33 PM  

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