Your latest album is titled This Is Chris Botti. Do you mean it wasn’t Chris Botti with the previous album offerings of yours?

The album is a sort of “Greatest Hits” collection.  It’s a title that my record company came up with.  I rely heavily on my record label, and they have done a fantastic job of making me a worldwide star.

Now with 13 albums under your belt, would you say that you have accomplished your musical dreams, the aspirations and goals that you may have set for yourself when you first begun on this magical, mystical, musical journey?

Yes, there is nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to get up onstage in front of a live audience of enthusiastic fans each night and play with my outstanding band.  I have been very fortunate being able to perform on a regular basis and this is what energizes me each time we go out onstage. I’m so appreciative that they’re there.  It’s not lost on me at all that we have fans that buy tickets, take a night off and come to the show.  It means so much. Now, my only concerns are “Do I have a growing audience?” and “Are my fans at my concerts enjoying themselves?” and as long as these two things are taking place, I am more than happy.

What is the message you would like to send across to your fans and the listeners, when they are listening to any Chris Botti song? How about when they are in the audience, watching you perform and serenade live?

I strive to create a specific atmosphere with my music, a romantic, moody atmosphere that can be enjoyed best late at night in a penthouse with a great bottle of wine.

You seem like quite an ambitious kid since young. How did that help shape you as a musician and an artiste?

Yeah, I just basically forgot about everything else or did away with it. At a certain point, you’re committed to something to an extent that you would do anything, and I’ve always been that way since I was a kid. I was really committed to practicing music, very, very ambitious and dedicated as a young person to my trumpet, and so it was many hours a day, many, many hours a day that I practiced. There’s a great quote from Joni Mitchell that said “Being a musician is 1 percent God-given talent and the other 99 percent insanity.” It’s really sort of a joke, I suppose, but it’s really true in a lot of ways. You have to be blinded by your own dedication, and that’s a real important part of it.

What was the toughest part in learning how to play a trumpet?

The trumpet is an instrument that requires daily attention to keep up your chops. Every day I practice.  My practice regiment is the same as it has been for the past 25 years.  I do the same routine that I learned from my trumpet teacher, William Adam, who I studied with in college.  It’s very disciplined with long tones, arpeggios, chromatic scales, classical exercises, etc… to make sure that I’m flexible and that the apparatus is working on the trumpet.  Then the jazz aspects take over in more of a fluid and elusive way, but the core of the trumpet technicalities need to be tended to daily.

How much would you charge me – someone obviously fascinated with everything music, yet not knowing how to play a single instrument – for a session of trumpet learning lesson? What’s the best advice you can give for people taking up learning to play one?

I don’t generally give trumpet lessons unless it’s part of an auction that raises money for a charity.

If I can give a tip to anyone, it is don’t be afraid to do one thing great. A lot of young kids these days want to do many different things, and they have many different distractions. Playing an instrument will give you some grounding point to do one thing great.  It takes a lot to play the cello or classical piano or the trumpet, and I think to focus on one thing and be proud of doing one thing is the number one tip that I would give to someone.

Share with us the music playlist that you are listening to, and how it relates to the current stage in your life right now.

I’m always listening to:

Miles Davis – My Funny Valentine

Keith Jarrett – The Melody At Night, With You

Frank Sinatra – Only the Lonely

With 2011 closing itself as a chapter, what would you like to see 2012 shape up for you?

2012 is going to be great year.  I’ll be releasing a new album.  I’ll continue to tour worldwide and I look forward to coming back to Singapore and the rest of Asia!

In the history book of music, where do you want to see yourself sit in those pages?

See question 2. As long as my fans are enjoying themselves, I’m happy!

Chris Botti performs at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 8th December. This interview was made possible by Universal Singapore.