Chris Botti Returns to Thornton Winery

Story and photos by guest writer  Rachael Recker

Rachael Recker

Rachael is a freelance jounalist living in Southern California.  She approaches each assignment with a sense of dedication and creativity. She is committed to understanding the heart of each piece through insightful words and pictures.  Head Wine Chix Linda Kissam is very pleased to welcome her to



On a sun-drenched Mediterranean-style courtyard Sunday afternoon, acclaimed trumpeter Chris Botti appeared as genuinely happy to be back at Thornton Winery as did his audience of several hundred.

Chris Botti Works the Crowd

The 49-year-old jazz instrumentalist — known for his mellifluous, melodic style and jazz/pop/classical fusion — has performed at the Temecula winery multiple times. The location served as one of his first gigs, he told the audience, since beginning his career in 1994.

“We are so happy to be back at the coolest winery in the world,” said an easygoing, professional Botti, who has a classy, approachable stage presence and showmanship reminiscent of Frank Sinatra, with whom he once toured.

Donning his trademark suit and tie, Botti was joined on stage by his five-piece band for the two-hour-plus outdoor concert, featuring performances by violinist Caroline Campbell and vocalist Lisa Fischer (The Rolling Stones).

Between frenzied crescendos and controlled, romantic melodies, Botti talked about his musical life and the life behind some of his musical selections.

Although a well-known fact to Botti fans at this point, the trumpeter told the Thornton audience how he and his band have become somewhat of a “dysfunctional family” thanks to a vigorous touring schedule. The group has been on the road 300 days a year for the past eight years.

Chris Botti & Violinist Caroline Campbell

He currently is promoting his recent release, “Impressions” (April 2012, Columbia Records) that features eclectic collaborations with country crooner Vince Gill, pianist/composer Herbie Hancock, tenor Andrea Bocelli, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), composer/pianist David Foster and violinist Caroline Campbell.

His eclectic style and songs choices allowed for a comfortable rhythm throughout the concert Sunday. Highlights ranged from jazz (Miles Davis’ “Flamenco Sketches” from “Kind Of Blue”), to pop (Michael Jackson’s rendition of R. Kelly’s “You Are Not Alone”), to classical (Frederic Chopin’s “Prelude No. 20 in C Minor”).

Brazilian guitarist Leonardo Ameudo displayed his airy, ethereal vocals and instrumental tone on “You Are Not Alone,” a duet with Botti.

Another duet, “Emmanuel,” brought Botti and Campbell down into the audience for a moving, intimate piece.

Vocalist Lisa Fischer, a treat to listen to and a personable performer, displayed her vocal range and control on pieces such as Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love.”

Beautiful songs now familiar to Botti’s live performances — “Italia,” “Cinema Paradiso” and Giacomo Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” — also proved to be crowd favorites.

Solos from all five of his band members, as well as Campbell in Fischer, embellished the already impressively technical show.

Thanks to the impressive lineup, Tuscany-like setting, intimate seating,  and wine and food menus, the Thornton’s Champagne Jazz Concert Series — now in its 24th year — is hard to beat when it comes to concert experience.

To purchase tickets for upcoming concerts like Dave Coz and George Benson, call 951-699-3021, visit or text “Champagne Jazz” to the winery at 55469.