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Chris Botti

A thousand kisses deep

Columbia

Judging a CD by its cover gives us Botti: a good-looking man, in pensive Herb Alpert mode, eyes turned away from the camera, dressed in a neat suit, trumpet clasped like a talisman. A little research tells us he's been called "the sexiest jazz trumpet player since Chet Baker."

Okay, it was Rex Reed who called him that, which takes away from it somewhat, but when was the last time you or I were called that, by anybody?

I am not a purist when it comes to jazz; David Sanborn, George Benson and Paul Hardcastle have made some of my favorite records over the years. I like to see genres breaking down the walls between each other. But -- and this has nothing to do with being a purist -- none of that matters unless a record can get off the ground.

This is unabashed jazz-pop, and in the wrong hands that's the kind of thing that lends itself not to dancing or drinking but nodding off. But damn it, this album flies. What else can I say? It just works. Soft? Sure. Almost easy listening? You betcha. But the art in Chris Botti's artifice rewards repeated plays.

Buzzing keyboards, wistful Moog bass lines, miles and miles of nods to Miles, a touch of pop classicism, Burt Bacharach covers, guest vocals and the obligatory "My Funny Valentine." It's all here.

And all simple, strong and admirable.

Chris Botti: http://www.chrisbotti.com/